What a day! It was in the planning for weeks, securing the site (which turned out to be awesome, by the way, located in the South Branch of beautiful Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village), getting the word out, and planning, to some extent, the food. We knew it would be a great event…IF people came and IF they brought food. But here’s the kicker. The original plan was to have a Picnic/Potluck, which sounds simple enough, everyone loves to eat and share their favorite foods, right? But OUR potluck was different than most. But we had two requirements. The first was that this was to be a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) potluck. In other words, there was to be no meat, no fish, no cheese, no dairy, just whole plant based foods. And the second requirement was that the dishes must be prepared without using any added oils. No olive oil, no coconut oil, no canola oil, none, nada, zilch!
So with those stipulations in place, we changed our “invitations” to read Picnic / (Voluntary) Potluck because we were concerned that if people were “required” to bring a dish and we “required” that they be WFPB-NO (Whole Food Plant Based-No Oil, they might decide not to come at all. Personally, I was having panic attacks…LOL. I literally had nightmares that we’d have a big event with lots of people…and NO food! We did decide to supply a “build your own tacos” section with lots of fixin’s, but you can’t have an entire event on just build your own tacos, can you?
Then people began to arrive. At first it was a trickle (97 people had signed up for the event, but it was HOT outside, temp in the mid 90’s, so we weren’t sure whether people might want to avoid the heat.)
Then more and more showed up…and just about every person brought a dish to pass. And they were AMAZING! Pastas and chilis and potato salads and baked beans and wraps and sauces galore and brownies and “crab” cakes and fudges and…and…and! You get the idea
The event was kicked off with Cardiologist, Dr Steven Lome, welcoming the guests and giving them a brief peak at what the Plant Based Nutrition Movement here in Chicago is all about, and inviting them to enjoy the food and join us in this great adventure…to help spread the word that a whole food plant based way of eating is not just great for your health, it’s fun and delicious as well!
All afternoon people made their way to the long tables of food. I need never have fretted that there would not be enough…there was a LOT of food. Several people said they’d never been to such a great potluck!
It was wonderful to see how spontaneously people seemed to begin chatting with one another, forming small groups. Most of our guests did not know anyone else at the event. Some said they’d heard about plant based eating, but they didn’t know anyone who ate this way. Others said they had begun eating plant based, but didn’t realize there were so many others who did as well. Finding so many that have also made this discovery was a very welcome surprise!
And whereever people gathered, there was FOOD being enjoyed! The enthusiasm that afternoon was palpable! It’s like people were being energized…not just by the food, but also by the enthusiasm, the laughter, the very real desire to make a difference in other people’s lives. That sort of energy is contagious!
And the food! So much vibrant color and so delicious! Anyone who thinks eating plant based means having “boring” dishes needs to come to our events! And this was just a small fraction of the tasty delights that day!
The assortment was amazing! One of the guests commented that at most potlucks he’s been to there are a lot of “duplicate” dishes. Given the large number of people (yes, roughly 100 did show up…a few that were scheduled weren’t able to make it, but several people came that weren’t on the list. They were a very welcome surprise!) he was surprised at the great variety of dishes to sample and to choose from. Several other people mentioned how thrilled they were to be at an event where they could literally choose any dish on the table and know it would be healthy for them to eat! It felt really good to have been a part of making that happen for them!
If you are one of the people who were able to join us on the 4th, we want to THANK YOU! We’re THRILLED at the response we received from everyone and consider our very first public event a success because of YOU! If you were not able to join us, or if you didn’t know about it, we invite you to connect with us so you can join us for upcoming events! To keep abreast of our schedule, you can visit our Events calendar on our website. You can also connect with us on Meetupf or upcoming events.
And by all means, please check feel free to connect with us via the “Get Involved” link on our website. We’d love to hear from you! And we’re very grateful for any level of involvement at all. We’re all in this together…and together we CAN make a difference.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead