I asked Kristina Addington, owner of V-Grits vegan food truck and co-organizer of the upcoming inaugural Bluegrass VegFest, if she ever craves a burger. There followed what some might refer to as a pregnant pause.
“No,” she finally said. “But I’m a little bit different, as a chef. I missed a lot of foods because my mom cooked very Southern style. Anything I missed, I wanted to recreate. I think it has more to do with that sentimental feeling — that comfort factor we have.”
In other words, it isn’t so much the hunk of meat between two pieces of bread one might crave; it’s the situation in which that meat and bread were delivered. I’d never thought of it in those terms previously, but I immediately got what she was saying. When I was young, my grandmother relentlessly fried frozen quarter-pound burgers for me. I still crave them, several years after her death. But I never found a way to recreate that flavor, so perhaps it was simply the experience.
“I can remember my mom would make fried cornbread all the time,” Addington said, “and she would make fried eggs. I loved it. I haven’t had eggs in 10 years, but it isn’t that I miss eggs — it’s that moment I want.”
And that’s why V-Grits offers up such fare as burgers made from wheat, and barbecue made with jackfruit. She calls it “junk food for vegans.” Well, Bluegrass VegFest will take it a step further, while still offering up some healthful and fun grub for vegans and non-vegans alike in and around Louisville this Saturday, May 28, from 2–7 p.m. at Apocalypse Brew Works, 1612 Mellwood Ave.
There will be plenty available, from all-natural baby food by Farm to Baby to Flora Vegan Treats, which offers vegan pastries (some of them are like Pop-Tarts!). Weekly Juicery will bring healthful juice and smoothies, SnoWhat Snoballs, will have snow cones made with all-natural syrups, and Kentucky Kombucha will offer its fermented tea. And don’t miss Half Peach Bakery & Café, which makes some of the freshest and best food in town (vegan or otherwise), from stir-fry to one mean taco salad.
In addition, Tattoo Charlie’s will have a presence, touting its new vegan ink (apparently there are animal products in certain tat inks), Uplands Peak Sanctuary, a farm animal rescue, will be on hand, and Kristen Lageunesse, author of Will Travel for Vegan Food, will be signing books. And there will be plenty more.
Addington stressed, however, that being vegan is more than just about not eating food that used to have a face.
“It’s a vegan festival,” she said of Bluegrass VegFest. “To most people, vegan means compassionate, animal-friendly, cruelty-free, all-natural — we want to promote the healthy aspect of an all-plant lifestyle. Anybody could live on Oreos.”
And if you think about it, there’s really no meat in Oreos, so her approach makes complete sense — a healthy diet is more than just cutting out the bacon and steak. More and more people in Louisville are climbing on-board.
“It’s growing,” Addington said. The popularity of a vegan lifestyle “has been popular for most larger cities for many years. Kentucky is a little bit behind at times, but we’re a very vegan-friendly city, so it’s very deserving.”
Will V-Grits continue to serve its “junk food”? Absolutely, even if she might not be taking the truck out as often as in the past. Still, V-Grits will be at VegFest, and the truck can usually be found at Flea Off Market as well. But the growing demand for vegan food has her exploring more and more avenues, such as projects like VegFest. She believes that’s a positive thing.
“I’ve been vegan for almost 10 years, so it’s been cool to say, even in the last year, it’s more popular and well-received and common. I hear people say it’s hard to find good vegan food in Louisville, and I disagree. So we want to showcase some of the good vegan products.”