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Creating a Solutionary World...One Solutionary Event at a Time

by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer 


Am I proactively contributing to solutions for this world, or am I unconsciously adding to its problems? This is a valid question that’s been coming to the forefront of more and more conversations as our society absorbs the impact and responsibility we have on earth. It’s also a question that local organization Solutionary Events is hoping to answer through its inaugural Sarasota Veg Fest next month.  

Promoting a conscientious and compassionate mindset toward humans, animals and the planet, Sarasota Veg Fest is part of a larger initiative to spark community engagement in making the world a kinder, safer, healthier and more sustainable home for all beings. As this festival approaches its eagerly awaited launch date, I spoke with event coordinator Jenna Bardoff for a glimpse into what attendees can expect at this first of many Veg Fests to come.    


Natural Awakenings: How long has the planning process for this event been in the works? 

Bardoff: The planning process for Sarasota Veg Fest began in March 2017 when we selected the date, May 5, and venue, Sarasota Fairgrounds. Originally, the event was going to be held at Oscar Scherer State Park, but after learning the park had a maximum capacity of 3000 visitors, we realized a larger space was needed for an event like this 

We still wanted to partner with Oscar Scherer though, so on November 25, the Solutionary Events team coordinated Sarasota's Solutionary Health Festival, the first of many local plant-based festivals geared toward inspiring our community to make healthy choices that benefit people, animals and the environment.  

Sarasota's Solutionary Health Festival has helped raise awareness for Sarasota Veg Fest and the need for similar educational events in this community. Our team has no doubt that Sarasota Veg Fest will be a success in terms of its educational mission, and we have solid plans for it to continue as an annual event.  


NA: What kinds of entertainment will the attendees get to experience at Sarasota Veg Fest? 

Bardoff: Sarasota Veg Fest is unique because it welcomes a diverse range of vendors, activities and entertainers, but everyone is united in the like-mindedness of making our world a better place. There will be health-oriented vendors including wellness centers, plant-based physicians and dietitians, massage therapists, acupuncturists, yoga studios and chiropractors.  

There will be a raw zone with whole food plant-based meals from restaurants such as Old Earth and other local favorites. Educational food demonstrations will include both raw and cooked healthy meals which are simple to recreate at home. In addition, free plant-based food sampling will be offered all day.  

There will be an animal rescue zone with local and state-wide rescue groups and sanctuaries. Some rescues are even bringing animals for adoption. In addition, this event will feature an eco zone and animal rights zone with non-profit organizations committed to creating a more compassionate world for animals and an eco-friendly world for everyone.  

There will be a total of seven speakers and two film discussions, one of which features John Corry, the producer of Forks Over Knives and PlantPure Nation. Our youngest speaker VeganEvan is just seven years old, and has a heavily followed YouTube channel.  

Food vendors will offer a variety of plant-based dishes, desserts, snacks and beverages. Vendors are using compostable cutlery, plates and cups, so we can succeed in our goal to create a zero-waste event. While snacking on delicious foods, visitors can enjoy live music from talented bands such as Hatley, MJ Baker, Raspberry Pie, Mwiza, Tyler Costanzo and The Fickle Souls. Dance performances will occur between the music sets. We also anticipate yoga being an integral part of Sarasota Veg Fest, and classes will be taught by several different instructors 

While parents are engaged in these offerings, we are also excited for kids to be entertained with their own activities at the veggie kids zone which includes eco-friendly paint making, story readings, ongoing veggie workshops and rock climbing. In addition, we are introducing The Factory Farm Experience, a museum-style exhibit that immerses visitors in what it’s like for animals being raised on a factory farm. This activity is appropriate for all ages.  

The activities listed are just a few examples of all that’s taking place at Sarasota Veg Fest. This event features an endless stream of opportunities for learning, community engagement and life-changing experiences.  


NA: Which causes will Sarasota Veg Fest raise awareness for, and why does education matter? 

This planet is shared by all living beings, and we have just one Earth—we are all connected. It’s important to make connections between health, compassion and sustainability in order to be equipped to create effective solutions for people, animals and the environment.  

Sarasota Veg Fest will raise awareness for many of these solutions to problems such as deforestation, water depletion, climate change, pollution, animal cruelty, preventable illnesses and social injustices. Education and advocacy are the most powerful tools to enact positive, long-term and meaningful change.  

Instead of considering what might happen if we don't grasp the magnitude of protecting our planet now, we believe in considering what might happen if we created a regenerative world by making healthy lifestyle choices.  


NA: What does it mean to be solutionary, and how are you working to spread that message? 

A solution is the opposite of a problem, just like solutionary is the opposite of problematic. Being a solutionary means choosing to take part in the world's solutions instead of its problems. Solutionaries are individuals, groups or organizations who are empowered to make conscientious decisions on a daily basis.  

Some of these include being zero-waste, adopting a vegan lifestyle, and understanding the connection between people, animals and the environment. Those of us who consider ourselves solutionaries are not perfect—because nobody is—but we strive to continuously do better, both for ourselves and the planet.  

The team at Solutionary Events believes that humans have an opportunity and responsibility to transition from being known as a problematic species and become a solutionary species instead. Our team spreads this message by coordinating socially responsible festivals, races and walks, film screenings, beach and park cleanups, workshops, school programs and other educational outreaches, both in the state of Florida and beyond.  


Sarasota Veg Fest is taking place on May 5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Sarasota Fairgrounds located at 3000 Ringling Blvd. Admission and parking are free, but donations are appreciated as this event is hosted by Solutionary Events, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information, call 941-730-4745, visit or, and like “Solutionary Events” on Facebook.   


Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog features practical tips for embracing an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.  

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