Article originally published by The Chronicle
Charleston is known nationwide for its rich Southern-stamped cuisine. Whether it’s seafood, grits, anything fried or the Gullah Geechee staples like rice, they have all seen their days in the spotlight locally with lavish festivals and substantial representation in media. One group of motivated cultivators are attempting to make a difference by offering something a bit different to the buffet table, while combating the uninformed stigmas surrounding their cause.
Mitchell Felder, “Chef TR” Tasha Robinson, Khet Waas Hutip and Victoria Felder have teamed up to create the Charleston Sol Food Veg Fest, a first of its kind celebration of healthy lifestyles that seeks to break barriers within the Black community and throughout the food-obsessed Lowcountry.
Promoting a “wholeholistic” approach with an emphasis on the power of the sun and nature, the Charleston Sol Food Veg Fest cultivators are a part of a burgeoning wave of health conscious African Americans in the food and beverage scene that are changing the face of Charleston cuisine expectations. By celebrating veganism on a wide scale with this festival, they have entered a plane of existence not yet reached by local tastemakers of any backgrounds.
In modern times, African Americans have struggled with health concerns such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes that have affected them at higher rates than other racial groups. Lack of nutritional education and access to sufficient or affordable healthcare have both contributed to higher chronic disease mortality rates among Blacks. The Sol Food Veg Fest won’t be a cure-all, but still can serve as a much needed step in the right direction with a positive and powerful message that may be a gamechanger for the Black community.