August 6-7, 2011 marked Farm Sanctuary’s 25th annual Hoe Down in Watkins Glen, NY.* It is an enlightening event consisting of lectures and presentations by noted authors and professionals, yoga workshops, food, sanctuary time, a bonfire, barn dance, and overall excellent company. Having been my second year attending the event, I went into it knowing what to expect, and just like last year, I walked away with so much more inspiration and love for the vegan lifestyle than ever before. As you can probably tell from the photo above, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the animals that reside on the farm.
Not only did I enjoy the animals, I also had the pleasure of enjoying some delicious food while in Ohio and New York. Below is a summary of my trip:
Leaving Chicago at 3:45 on Friday morning, my sister, Lauren, and I enjoyed the sunrise while driving through Indiana. 3:45 AM is pretty early but it paid off as there was very little traffic and we avoided rush hour! We stopped at around 9:30 AM in downtown Cleveland and hit up The Flaming Ice Cube, a decently priced vegan cafe and gift shop. I enjoyed the Dijonaise Panini and Lauren had the Berries n’ Cream Panini and Summer Rolls. The Dijonaise Panini was a-freakin-mazing!!! We made the decision then and there to stop back by on our way home from the Hoe Down.
After loading up with some naughty snacks (a brownie, peanut butter crunch bar and mini s’mores) from the shop, we were back on the road to New York. We arrived in upstate around 4:30 PM and enjoyed a fancy schmancy dinner at the Stonecat Cafe. While not entirely vegan, they did have a few tasty gourmet vegan options and were able to modify an item or two from the menu. We ordered the Garlic Bulb, Olivada (both served with foccacia bread), Maple Cured Smoked Tofu and Shiitake & Spinach Risotto. The risotto was probably my favorite and all of the food was extremely fresh. Not to mention the view of Seneca Lake from the back patio was breathtaking. I recommend this restaurant if you enjoy fresh, organic food, and have a few extra $$$ to spend.
We ended the day by enjoying some vanilla soft serve ice cream from The Great Escape Ice Cream Store. The soft serve was tasty although I do not recommend the mix-ins as they taste artificial. Either get the plain ice cream or order a topping to go with it.
Lauren and I arrived at Farm Sanctuary at 9:00 AM the following morning and signed in. We then poked around in the gift shop as they always have cool shirts, books and doo-dads. I was very excited to find the new Go Max Go Cleo’s (similar to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) and Snap! (similar to Crunch bars) candy bars for sale! Needless to say I bought the Cleo’s version since I hate peanut butter so much (kidding of course). Yummy stuff!
We enjoyed presentations by Allan Kornberg (Farm Sanctuary Executive Director), Gene Bauer (Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder), Kris Carr (cancer survivor and author of Crazy Sexy Life) and Susie Coston (Farm Sanctuary national shelter director). Susie’s presentation was probably my favorite as she spoke about the sanctuary’s newest rescued animals, what they had been through, and how they are doing now…complete with cute photos of the animals happily frolicking around! These stories, while sad (with the abuse the animals have gone through), are also very sweet and uplifting. Farm Sanctuary provides these animals with the happy lives they deserve.
For lunch we had mixed rice salad, chili with vegan Parmesian cheese and tasty polenta with mushroom pesto. Next we had sanctuary time with the animals. Such amazing beings! The sanctuary has chickens, cows, goats, pigs, rabbits, sheep, turkeys, etc. After this was a presentation by Zoe Weil (Co-Founder and President of The Institute for Humane Education), Robert Cheeke (vegan body builder and author of Build a Better Body on a Plant-Based Diet) and Dawn Moncrieffe (Founding Director of A Well-Fed World).
Next we enjoyed a cocktail reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the farm. Following shortly thereafter was dinner consisting of blueberry salad, roasted potatoes, spanikopita and peach salsa. Dessert was gluten-free chocolate cake along with chocolate chip cookies. Ending the spectacular day was a barn dance complete with contra dancing. It was fun! I’m not good at dancing but I had perma-grin for this one.
Sadly, this was our last day at Farm Sanctuary. While I was sad to realize that all good things must come to an end, I enjoyed every last bit of our visit. We started it off by enjoying a mixed fruit salad along with blueberry, coconut, peach, raspberry or strawberry yogurt, and granola topped with our choice of almond, soy or sunflower seed milk. We then attended lectures by Nick Cooney (author of Change of Heart: How Understanding Psychology can Make us Better Animal Advocates), Bruce Friedrich (author of Effective Animal Advocacy) and Victoria Moran (The Care and Feeding of an Advocate). The vegan community is truly blessed with such amazing, intelligent, talented people. They really make you stop and think about things you haven’t really considered before.
For lunch we had bean salad, marinated tomatoes and kalamata olives with basil, BBQ chicken shreds and pita bread. Dessert was our choice of chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate, or french vanilla ice cream, along with toppings such as shredded coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, chocolate and mint chocolate syrups, peanut butter, Ricemellow Creme, and crumbled Oreo-like cookies. YUM. You had better believe I put peanut butter on my ice cream! I apologize for not taking photos of all this food, but I needed my food fix and I needed it STAT!
Sadly, after dessert it was time to head back home. Lauren and I purchased some more candy bars and crackers from the gift shop, said goodbye to our friends, then headed back out on the road again.
Though the fun and excitement of Farm Sanctuary’s Hoe Down had come to an end, we still had a night of camping in Cleveland to look forward to. Those 12 hour drives can be pretty taxing! Having arrived in Cleveland at 6:00 PM that evening, we first stopped by Chipotle for dinner. We each had a vegetarian burrito complete with black beans, rice, mild salsa and guacamole, these puppies are delicious. Needless to say Lauren and I ate the entire things. Bellies full, we went to the campground and set up our tent, enjoying another night in the wilderness.
Bright and early the next morning we were back on the road yet again. Since we were in the area, we couldn’t help but to stop back by The Flaming Ice Cube for more delicious eats. I ordered a Mellow Yellow Smoothie and Pesto Burger and Lauren had the Peanut Butter BananaJama Panini and Fruit & Yogurt Parfait. After devouring those, we each ordered more food to go. I, again, had to order the Dijonaise Panini and Lauren got the Mediterranean Panini. SO DAMN GOOD.
What a wonderful vacation filled with sweet animals, wonderful people and excellent food! I always have a great time at Farm Sanctuary, and Gene Bauer himself is a damn good guy. I highly recommend the event!
Here is a slideshow of some of the delicious food we enjoyed on our trip:
*Though this event doesn’t revolve entirely around food (the focus of my blog), I wanted to talk about it as the vegan lifestyle heavily emphasizes how important and beneficial it is to have a plant-based diet.