New Festival Celebrates Vegan Lifestyle

Even planners were surprised at the popularity of Miami's inaugural Seed Food & Wine Festival.

By Tracy Block October 24, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

Nearby bakery Bunnie Cakes, known for its vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free desserts, built a playful spread featuring balloons and cupcake towers with Scrabble letters that spelled "Vegan."

Photo: Jorge Martinez

Seed Food & Wine Festival
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Three years ago, at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, event producer Alison Burgos had an idea for a different type of food event—one that celebrated plant-based ideas and ideals. That seed of an idea finally sprouted at the inaugural Seed Food & Wine Festival, which took place October 15 to 19 at venues in Midtown and downtown Miami. The Dirt Box, an event production company created with Michelle Gaber, produced the festival.

About 4,000 people attended the festival, which included enlightening events such as Thursday's Thrive magazine V.I.P. cocktail party at Wynwood Walls, as well as Friday's Vedge dinner party from Philadelphia-based chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby and hosted by actress and vegan Alicia Silverstone at Tongue and Cheek restaurant. Saturday started with the Sacred Space Yoga Class followed by the Festival Day main tasting. The Sprouts Kids Day at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens took place on Sunday. “We really wanted to create a weekend that had something for everyone, so upscale dinners, cocktail parties, an all-day festival, and a kids' day all made sense to us,” Burgos said.

In creating the schedule and recruiting partners for Seed, Burgos and her team first developed a list of locally and nationally recognized experts, dubbing them the “Dream Team.” Soon after reaching out, Burgos was both pleasantly surprised and shocked to get commitments from people like the raw food chef Matthew Kenney, athlete and vegan advocate Brenden Brazier, and Silverstone.

Already a city that embraces fitness, health, and wellness, Miami was a natural location for a large-scale vegan event to spread consciousness about green living and sustainability.

“This is our hometown, and we wanted to share our journey and the tools we've been given to live a life that changes your health, the world, and animals for the better,” Burgos said. A booming niche on the food festival circuit, plant-based festivals provide the same foodie experience, with a more educational mindset. “There have been vegan festivals out there for years,” Burgos said. “Seed was the first plant-based food and wine festival, which was pretty exciting for all of us. We were really focused on showing people through food that making better choices was the 'new cool,' accessible, and delicious.”

“We are thrilled with the love we received in our first year,” she said. “More than the numbers, what really blew us a way were how many people approached us to tell their stories of how they are making changes in their lives whether for their health, the environment, animals, or all three. … We will be back next year, bigger and better, and hopefully inspiring even more people to look at becoming more conscious about what they eat and how it affects us all.”

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