Nashville VegFest – 024
Good morning, Nashville, Tennessee. This is episode 024 of “Two Vegans On A Mission” Podcast.
Thanks for joining us today! We’re going to talk about the Nashville Fairgrounds, where we stayed a couple nights, and then we’re going to tell you about the VegFest we were able to attend, as well as where we ate at the Sunflower Cafe, a vegan restaurant in the heart of Nashville.
So, thanks for joining us, and stay tuned!
Introduction to the Podcast
Welcome to the “Two Vegans On A Mission” Podcast.
I’m Louisa, and together with my husband, Michael, and our dog Sugar, we’re traveling and living full-time in a Winnebago Class C Motorhome, visiting animal sanctuaries and animal rescues all across the country.
Each week, we’ll share what new camping spots we’ve found, what great vegan meals we’ve eaten, and our latest vegan outreach activities! So, please join us as we strive to inspire, educate, and support you in your efforts to be vegan.
We got to Nashville with the intent of going to the VegFest, which we will talk about in a little bit. But first, we want to tell you about how we found our campsite, and what it was like. What do you think, Michael?
I believe we found this campsite through Campendium, which is real critical when you’re on the road all the time. It would have been a magnificent campsite, RV park for the location at Nashville for our upcoming VegFest, but there were some problems that we experienced there.
Nashville Fairgrounds Camping
Well, first of all, I want to just make sure people know that I got on the internet, and I called the guy in charge, and he said I had to fill out an application, so I did that. And then I tried to send it back to him, but of course, from my phone, I couldn’t do that because it didn’t allow me to do a PDF.
That went back and forth a couple of times, and eventually he said, “Just put your information about your RV and what day you want to come in, and put it in an email”…and he’ll reserve a spot for us, which was very exciting!
I really was excited about going to VegFest and having the campground right at the venue was going to be perfect in case we wanted to go back and forth and see Sugar while we were going to the VegFest. It was $35 a night, and we got electric and water, but we had no dump. There was a restroom up the road a little bit you can walk to, but it was only open until about 9:00 in the evening. What else do you think?
That sounds real exciting and we always feel grateful when we can find a spot that meets our needs, because it’s competitive out there in RV world, finding RV parks and a place that has all your hookups, and water, and potentially a clean shower. I’m always happy when we can find those places.
However, this one has a few issues. First of all, it is a parking strip, so calling it an RV park is a real long stretch. Next thing is when we did pull in, we found that the grounds were about 15 parking spaces. The electrical posts probably haven’t been inspected in years.
We had to move two spots because our surge suppressor indicated that they had grounding issues or not working at all. Also, one of the things that I was really concerned about around the electrical post, the grass was really overgrown. A couple of them had wires sticking out, et cetera. That was really disconcerting. I found one that finally worked.
It wasn’t level. We had to use a little bit of leveling pads, but that’s okay. That happens all around in RV world. Then, as you looked around the parking lot, we noticed there were a couple of full-timers there, which was fine in itself, but these full-timers had old vehicles that they were working on. They were leaking oil. They were jacked up.
They were friendly enough people, but kind of giving you the picture that this was more of a place of extreme convenience. Most people probably would have pulled through there and not stopped. The kicker for me wasn’t necessarily just the poles or the full-timers, because you’re going to see that stuff all over United States.
This RV parking lot was sitting about 200 yards from one of the biggest race tracks in the United States! We understand they race year-round, and because they race year-round, a lot of the racers are practicing, doing their tune-ups, their practice runs, from about 8:00 until the sun went down!
These top, world-class racers are going around the track. I’m not a race fan, but you can imagine it is exciting to see a race car going around a track 190 miles an hour, unless you have to live there.
Well, we weren’t living there! We only stayed two nights.
The decibel level was way above the threshold for comfort. Matter of fact, we probably should have walked around with headphones on to reduce the sound. Then, on top of all of that, this is built by, very close to a rail station and a freeway, so …
Yeah, so if it wasn’t a train going by or the race cars going around the track, or just the fact that there were a lot of people coming to the event, it was a very busy place! I have to say, I like the fact that we didn’t have to come in, in the morning and find a place to park, pay $5 for parking, and then wonder if Sugar was going to be okay, because we had electricity on.
We could have turned on the air conditioning if we needed to, and it didn’t get that warm, but we were able to check on her without any problem! We could also go back and have a little snack if we wanted to do that as well.
The Nashville Fairgrounds is not number one on our list for campgrounds, but if you’re going to attend an event there, which is why we stayed there, then I recommend it. But, get out of there and go to the next place soon as you can because it is pretty barebones parking lot.
We met a couple of nice people who were camping overnight there, and they just came in for the night because they need a spot, and they said the places that they had checked on were $100 a night! That seems horrendously expensive for the area, but again, it’s Nashville, so maybe that’s why it was so expensive!
Yeah, Nashville is a music city. Yeah, the Grand Ole Opry is there. Also, in the next couple of weeks, the NFL draft will be there for the entire week, so finding spots are going to be a premium, and we understand that parking downtown is really challenging, so it is a spot.
Yeah, and we were glad to have it. Next up, we’re going to talk about our visit to the Sunflower Cafe in the heart of Nashville, so stay tuned.
The Sunflower Cafe – Vegan!
We drove in from Chattanooga into Nashville, and of course, we were hungry! So, we decided that we would find ourselves a great vegan restaurant using either the HappyCow app or the Vanilla Bean app. We filed this report from the field. Here we are, sitting in our RV.
We just finished eating our lunch from Sunflower Cafe here in Nashville, Tennessee, and so we’re going to give you a little overview of what that was like.
We first drove up into the neighborhood and realized we weren’t going to be able to park the RV in front of the restaurant, nor could we get into the parking lot because it was a tight turn right off the road, and that’s because this appears to be a restaurant that used to be in a neighborhood of houses or homes, and so they renovated some of the buildings to make them into places of business now. We drove down the road and parked at, in a wonderful Walmart, which was across a busy road and took the dog in her little carrier and hiked back up to the restaurant.
It’s a pretty, little, yellow building.
We went in and obviously, we didn’t know where the front door was. We walked in the patio door, and walked all the way through the restaurant to the front, which was very cute. They had a nice menu on the wall and one in your hand that you could look at, so we realized that the entire place is vegan.
Okay. Now, we’re talking about the food and what it was like in the restaurant. Michael, what do you think?
Well, first of all, we found this place using our HappyCow app once again, and it’s a lifesaver when you’re visiting new cities that you don’t know the restaurants. I was amazed at this restaurant. First of all, it is very unique inside. When you go in, it almost looks like a serving buffet. You have the cooks standing there, serving you meals.
Along the walk through the restaurant, you’ll see the food that you’re actually going to order for the most part, and they have a menu that’s a little different. It’s all plant-based Vegan. I had the vegan veggie burger, and you get to pick the bun, and then you get to pick the specific burger that you wanted, and you can pick your desserts and side dishes. By the way, I had a side of kale. The burger was one of the best burgers that I’ve had this year.
According to the cook, the base is beets, onions, black beans, brown rice, and mashing it all together very well. Then, I also had garlic mushrooms, onions and tomatoes on there, and then I had … I don’t know why. I decided I wanted a gluten-free bun, which added to the price, and that’s something I did want to talk about. A little pricey.
All these restaurants tend to be a little bit pricier than your average restaurant. My burger was $7, and then the side costs a couple dollars, and the gluten-free bun added another $1.20, so you can do the math. This is starting to be an expensive lunch. That’s our constant concern when we are at vegan restaurants. The atmosphere was wonderful. We sat out on the patio because we had our little doggy with us, but it was still nice and warm there, good place to sit down, relax, and have a vegan lunch for the day!
The thing that I liked, like you said, you could see the food before you ordered it because it was like a cafeteria style behind the counter. But, they also assumed we’d already been there, and so they weren’t as helpful as I would have liked in telling us what we could choose! Everything was a la carte, and so like Michael said, we get $6.99 for the burger basics, and then you add a la carte other things, and of course that means our meal was about $25 by the time we finished with it, but it was good! What did you think overall for the flavors?
I thought the flavors were absolutely delicious, wonderful, spicy! A lot of flavor to my burger, and I would highly recommend anybody coming through Nashville, this would be my number one choice!
I want to just make sure you know that this is the kind of place that you cannot drive your RV up to. So, if you are driving a Class A, or even some of the bigger Class Cs, or even our small Class C, you’ve got to park it down the road at the Walmart. Then walk across the highway there, which is really busy, and that could be a little scary for a lot of people.
You might want to take your tow vehicle if you have one.
Or you can take your tow vehicle, but then, you have to unhitch just to go to lunch. That might be a little crazy for people. That wraps up our Sunflower Cafe review.
Next up on the podcast, we get to talk about the main attraction, the VegFest in Nashville on April 6th, that we were able to attend, so stay tuned.
Report from the Nashville VegFest
Okay. We’re at the VegFest, and Michael, what do you think about it?
Well, first of all, I was absolutely shocked about the number of people attending. I figured it was Nashville, we’re in the deep south, and we take our time to get out there and there’s almost 500 people in line.
It’s like, “Oh my goodness!” That was our first big shocker. Matter of fact, I know I was in line for about an hour just to get to the front door.
I met some cool, retired Navy people who are plant-based, and had changed their lives, and who we’re just excited as I was to get inside to meet the vendors, taste some food, and just enjoy the day!
Yeah, and while you were standing in line, going through that, I was standing in front of the booth that had “Action for Animals“. It was with our new friends, Dave and Abby since I stood there for about an hour, looking at their products that they’re selling.
They’re a nonprofit that helps animals, and they sell T-shirts and stickers to support the cause. They also had free literature that they handed out to people. Abby went up and down the line for you guys who were waiting in line, handing out free recipes, vegan recipes, so that was nice of them to do that, but we had a nice chat about their life on the road.
They also live in a van, and they travel from VegFest to VegFest, and they support the animals, so that was a very exciting time for me to chat with them while you waited in line. Then finally, you got to the door, and we were able to go in, and what was the first thing that we did?
Well, there’s so many vendors. We started looking at people who were selling vegan-type clothing. You could smell all the wonderful dishes being served at people, and just walking around like we were in the candy store. Only thing, we were in the vegan store!
Yeah, everybody’s vegan there or wants to be vegan, or wants to learn about being vegan, and so it didn’t feel like anybody was going to roll their eyes at us when we asked about their products, and you got a shirt, right?
Yeah, I got a vegan shirt, and then I started looking at different literature about plant-based foods and medicine, and then I found the speakers board for the lecturers, and went to a couple lectures during the day.
Yeah, we went to The Gentle Barn with Ellie Laks and her husband. They gave an overview of The Gentle Barn there in Tennessee, and they did a really nice job, I thought with their presentation on video. Then, they spoke about it as well, and lots of people were there listening to their presentation.
We talked about The Gentle Barn because we had already visited that a couple weeks ago, and that was cool. Then, we sat through The Bearded Vegans’ presentation, and he spoke with a lady named JL Fields. They did a panel discussion about fat-shaming and how there are not always skinny vegans. So, how to fight through that stereotype was part of their presentation.
The Bearded Vegans Podcast
It was really fun listening to them and meeting Andy from The Bearded Vegans, because they have their podcast…he and Paul… and so we’ve been binge-listening to their podcast as we drive around the country. Again, Andy is one of those kindred spirits, I believe, because he’s in a van, and he travels around from place to place. He also has a T-shirt company called Compassion Co, and he sells T-shirts and stickers for the benefit of the animals.
He and his co-host, Paul are very knowledgeable about veganism, and they have great topics that they talk about. Their podcast lasts about an hour and a half each week, but if you are interested in learning more about veganism, then that’s the one to go listen to. It’s called The Bearded Vegans, and I really enjoy listening to them! So, shout out to our new buddy, Andy, and hopefully one day we’ll meet Paul, but in the meantime, what else did we go see, Michael? You went to the presentation with that PhD lady.
Yeah. Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name, but she discussed all the recent research about plant-based eating, and nutrition, and also just making sure that everybody is welcome in the big tent. There are people who are transitioning to vegan options, people who are vegetarian who are transitioning, and to try to open up, be open and supportive of those people as they transition to being full vegans.
Well, you know me, I wrote down her name. Her name is Dr. Tiana Jenkins. I don’t know if it’s Tiona or Tiana, but it’s Jenkins, and she has a PhD.
I got there a little late because I was out, checking on Sugar, I believe at that time. So by the time I sat down, it was almost half over, but you said it was a very nice presentation as well, right?
Yeah. She talked about cooking, research and reaching out to everyone to get onboard.
Of course, we did not just sit and listen to people, we bought some food.
No, we ate. We ate. We ate our way through the VegFest.
Which was not really true.
Rose Gold Vegan Bakery
We stopped at one booth that looked really yummy. It was called Rose Gold Vegan Bakery, and we bought two sweet potato muffins, right?
Yes. Those people were based out of Huntsville, Alabama.
Right, and they were very good. Two muffins for $5, which sounds kind of pricey, but they were very tasty, and we took those back to the RV, and sat there with Sugar, and ate our muffins. It was kind of like a brunch muffin, but it was very tasty, I thought.
Yeah, very tasty, and I believe very healthy also.
Yeah, it was-
A lot of fiber.
A lot of fiber, but not a lot of … I think it had some sugar.
Yes, but remember, not all sweets are good for you because sugar is vegan, as long as there’s no bone char that it’s processed with.
The Viet Grill
Then, you have to double-check that, so we just enjoyed the muffins at any rate. Then, we also had some lunch a little bit later, and I got that from, what’s called the Viet Grill. They had spring rolls, and, I believe, they are a food cart, and they are not in Nashville. We had two spring rolls, and those were tasty. Those were huge.
You had one, I had one, and they were two for $7. That was a really good price, I thought.
Real good price, and I like the peanut butter dipping sauce, which was really unique. If you don’t have problems with nuts and peanut butter, it’s something to try.
Araba’s Sweet Spot
Yeah. Then later, of course my sweet tooth came out again, and I came up upon, what a place called Araba’s Sweet Spot, and she was selling chocolate chip cookies, vegan style. I asked her, “Where are you located?”, and they don’t really have a storefront yet.
They rent out space from other restaurants or other bakeries, and so what they do is make their cookies, and then sell them at places like this festival. Here’s my concern about theirs. I bought two small chocolate chip cookies for $5. You could buy three for $8, but again, that’s a lot of money for just a cookie.
What I noticed at the end of the day is she took up probably a big bin that might have had six dozen, at least, chocolate chip cookies that she took home. So, you my analogy is like a garage sale, where you want to sell all your stuff, but you put the prices too high, and so people come along and like,
“Well, that would be good, but it costs too much, so I’m not going to buy it”. And then you end up taking your stuff home. Well, that’s what she did. I think she should have priced them for a lot less and sold all of them, and then she would have everybody talking about how much they liked them because they were very good. But, they were too expensive!
So not everybody bought some, and then she ended up taking a lot of them home. I don’t know the point in that. You bring them to sell, and then you overprice them, nobody buys them, and you take them home.
Yeah. It’s a continuing thing. I would love to see in the plant-base vegan world, that there’s more competition, so that you drive down the price. Because if you want people to be in our bigger tent, you’re going to have to drive down prices so that they compete with places like a Burger King, or McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, places like that where for $10, you can get, I don’t know, a dozen donuts, et cetera.
Well, also, the places like McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr., whatever it is now that they’re doing, the veggie burgers, we’re never going to compete with getting rid of those places, and so I think that we should probably not go to those kinds of places just to have their vegan burger.
I would prefer to support the restaurant like the Sunflower Cafe that is purely vegan…put our money there to keep them going because if we don’t buy vegan burgers from Burger King or from Carl’s Jr., they’re still going to sell their animal products, and so I would rather not put my hard-earned money into their pocket. Wouldn’t you agree?
I agree, but if you’re out on the road in the middle of Texas somewhere…or you don’t have anything in your car or your RV … (we usually have extra food in our RV) and you have a Carl’s Jr., it is now nice to know that you can ask for an Impossible Burger. And, make sure that they don’t put their sauce or their cheese on it, and have a vegan meal for the day. But, absolutely, I agree. Let’s support organizations that are 100% plant-based Vegan. Let’s put our money there right now, help those places grow and flourish!
Exactly. In the future, when you see a VegFest coming to town or Earth Day’s coming up in a couple of weeks, a lot of places will have a big celebration for Earth Day, I say go to it! This cost us $10 each to go through there, but it’s to maintain the support of the function, and so money well-spent I believe, don’t you?
And so, another episode of our podcast comes to an end. Thank you for staying this long and listening to us. It’s been 26 minutes, and that’s about the length of all of our podcasts, so join us next week as we head toward Hermitage, Tennessee! We stay at a campground on the Corps of Engineers, as well as go to another wonderful restaurant in Nashville.
And we visit the Animal Rescue Corps in Lebanon, Tennessee. We’re excited to share those with you, so please join us next week, same place, same time. In the meantime, you can go to our Instagram page, which is @heaveninaclassc, or you can join us on our website at www.vegansonamission.com.
Leave a comment there. We’d be happy to hear from you, and if you’re so inclined, please go to iTunes and leave us a review. That way, we can be found by more people who would like to be vegan, so continue on your journey forward, saving animals and, be vegan!
We are a retired teacher, Louisa, and a retired physician assistant, Michael, married for 39 years, who want to help busy travelers begin and maintain a healthy life-style while on the road.