The Maine Veg Fest in previous years took place in Portland, but due to COVID-19, the event is virtual on Nov. 14 this year. Beth Gallie, president of the Maine Animal Coalition, said that the virtual format of the event will give non-Portland residents a better chance of attending. Courtesy photo Beth Gallie

SCARBOROUGH — The 16th annual Maine Veg Fest, taking place virtually on Nov. 14, includes a presentation about how one can reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms with a healthy lifestyle.

The event, beginning at 10 a.m. and free to attend, is hosted by the Maine Animal Coalition, a statewide organization that has worked since 1987 to promote compassion to all animals, according to the coalition’s website.

Dr. Timothy Howe will record a presentation, “Reducing Your Risk of COVID-19 with Lifestyle Choices,” said Beth Gallie, president of the Maine Animal Coalition. Howe is a board certified internal medicine physician, practicing in Brunswick.

“For the past 31 years, he and his wife Lyn, who has her master’s in public health, have worked together teaching how a healthy plant-based diet and thoughtful living can be used in the prevention and treatment of many diseases,” Gallie said. “He and his wife have worked together giving cooking schools and seminars in the United States and internationally. After 30 years in private practice, Dr. Howe recently joined MidCoast Medical Group. He and his wife regularly make presentations for MidCoast Hospital’s program, Food for Health.”

Howe’s presentation may interest people who are interested in reducing their risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, Gallie said.

“If you really look at it, so many victims of COVID-19 who die are obese,” she said.

Two speakers will present through Zoom, one being a Portland resident and two-time cookbook author Collin McCullough, Gallie said. His presentation is called, “How to Skip the Turkey and Navigate the Holidays as a Vegan.” The other Zoom presentation is from Amy Stedman, a Presque Isle business owner, who will discuss running a vegan store in Aroostook County.

Usually, the Maine Veg Fest takes place in Portland, Gallie said. But this year the entire state has a chance to check out the event and possibly learn about the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.

“We’re a statewide organization and people around the state can ‘attend,’ so to speak,” she said.

There are many reasons people go vegan or vegetarian, said Gallie. The Maine Animal Coalition supports people who stop eating meat for health reasons, environment reasons, etc.

“We really care a great deal about animals, and because the biggest sin against animals is eating them, we’re into converting the world into a plant-based diet,” she said. “A lot of people are vegan or vegetarian. Vegan means you don’t eat any animal products, and vegetarians might eat eggs or milk. But a lot of people are going vegan for health reasons. A lot of people are doing it because it’s easier on the environment. People come at it from all different angles.”

She added that the meat industry creates as much harmful pollutants as the transportation industry.

The Maine Animal Coalition offers resources for people who are interested in vegetarianism or veganism, Gallie said. Many people who “wander in” to the Maine Veg Fest each year find that there are a lot of interesting tips and recipes.

“More and more people are understanding the importance of reducing their meat consumption,” she said. “Older people understand the importance of vegetables. They can remember when the American people ate differently. They had food from their gardens and no fast food. It’s an interest of everyone, I think.”

People who are interested in attending can visit mainevegfest.com, call 767-7268 or email [email protected]

Courtesy photo Beth Gallie

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