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New Orleans Veggie Fest 

  The expanding variety of food in New Orleans isn't just about different ethnic cuisines and unconventional dining venues. The choices for vegetarians and vegans also are more expansive than ever, a major change for a city where seafood was once widely, and earnestly, proffered as a "meatless" option at restaurants.

  This weekend, May 11-12, the collective momentum will be on display at New Orleans Veggie Fest. Now in its fifth year, the festival will be held at the New Orleans Healing Center (2372 St. Claude Ave., 504-940-1130,

  Planned by the Humane Society of Louisiana, the event is a showcase for the vegan lifestyle, which goes well beyond diet. There are cooking demonstrations and a bazaar of booths featuring local resources and national suppliers ranging from raw food producers to fair trade coffee importers. Attendees can nosh through samples of everything from vegan ice cream and dairy-free dips to mock meats, and local food vendors will offer vegan dishes as well. A slate of national speakers will give presentations on topics including nutrition, fitness and preventative medicine.

  On Saturday, there is an after-party at Cafe Istanbul with music, burlesque and belly dance performances and drink specials. Veggie Fest is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets begin at $10 and $5 for students. For details, visit

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