Vegan Soulfest

August 7, 2016 in Restaurants by cipcipTrip

In 2014, Naijha Wright-Brown, co-owner of The Land of Kush, a vegetarian soul food restaurant in Baltimore City, teamed up with Brenda Sanders, executive director of the public health organization Better Health, Better Life, to organize the 1st Annual Vegan SoulFest. The purpose of the collaboration was to bring information about the health benefits of eating foods made from fresh fruits and vegetables to Baltimore, and do it on a larger scale. “I’ve attended a couple of vegan festivals in surrounding areas,” Wright-Brown said. “We felt the need to bring a vegan soul festival of this kind to Baltimore’s inner city. Making it accessible to people by car, train and bus.”

Better Health, Better Life reached small numbers of people through community-based workshops in churches and community centers. The Land of Kush appealed to people all over Baltimore through marketing and community outreach. By joining forces the companies knew they would be able to tap a much larger audience.

The result: a surprise visit from Stevie Wonder two days in a row.

The inaugural Vegan SoulFest turned out to be more successful than the founders imagined. The expectation was to attract a few hundred people to a free festival about food. Instead, more than 1,200 attended resulting in coverage by Dan Rodricks of The Baltimore Sun who described it as a “new food festival in Baltimore.” People came from all over Baltimore City and the surrounding counties – even as far away as Philadelphia, New York City and Virginia – to learn more about the nutritional benefits of including more plant foods in their diets. They heard from leading experts in plant nutrition and how to prepare delicious healthy foods from local chefs. Best of all, they got to sample delicious foods from dozens of vendors.

In 2015, Vegan SoulFest became more successful by entering into a preliminary partnership with Baltimore City Community College (BCCC). Nearly 100 vendors were present and more than 3,000 people attended – more than double the number from the first year. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten,” Brenda commented. “I’m so honored to be a part of bringing this festival to the people of Baltimore!” With the help of major sponsors like Harbor Bank and A Well-Fed World, Vegan SoulFest was able to expand into the much larger venue of a college campus, bring in more nutritional experts, feature back-to-back cooking demonstrations, and incorporate fitness and live musical performances into the program.”

“Vegan SoulFest has a perfect home at Baltimore City Community College,” said BCCC President/CEO Dr. Gordon F. May. “As a community gathering place where the vital benefits of healthy eating are made available to all during this festival, we want to empower everyone to take responsibility for their personal health.”

Though last year’s festival played to rave reviews, Naijha and Brenda boast they have organized an even bigger and better festival in 2016. The two say it’s going to be “vegansoulicious!” The number of vendors this time is projected to be 125 with an estimated 5,000 attendees.

Vegan SoulFest 2016 is slated for Saturday, Aug. 20 from noon-7 p.m. on the BCCC Liberty campus, 2901 Liberty Heights Ave. in Baltimore. Vegan Outreach will be a premier sponsor of the event. The lineup of speakers includes former NFL defensive lineman David Carter (a.k.a. the 300-pound vegan); Dr. Milton Mills; Kimatni Rawlings; Dr. Terry Victor; and Antoinette St. Claire. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Tee Brown and Baltimore’s own Mova Kween, Poet Deep, Buddah Bass, and Watoto from the Nile. GSE Entertainment and Media Star Promotions will provide sound and staging, respectively.

Radisson Hotel At Cross Keys accommodations are available at a special Vegan Soulfest rate of $169 per night.

For more information about the festival, please visit the Vegan Soulfest 2016 website at