Plant-based food festival showcases healthy living

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The fourth annual Healthy Taste of Knoxville festival returned Sunday at the Knoxville Expo Center. 

The festival celebrated and promoted plant-based diets like vegetarianism and veganism which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can provide health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. 

“Our goal with this event is to provide anyone considering a plant-based lifestyle, no matter the reason, access to helpful resources and support,” organizer of Healthy Taste of Knoxville, Stan Wolcott, said. “We have seen an increased interest in plant-based living in our community and we want to connect those people with like-minded vendors and businesses across the region.” 

Janice Church, the volunteer coordinator for Healthy Taste of Knoxville, grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin but never knew she suffered from a dairy intolerance. 

By the time she was 49 years old, Church said she weighed 275 pounds and was extremely depressed. But that all changed after she became vegan. 

“It completely changed my life, but I never knew I was ill until I changed,” Church said. “And once I changed, I’m looking back, and people say, ‘Oh how can you live like that’ and I’m like why would you want to choose food that kills you every day?” 

Church, now at the age of 73, says she enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking and biking with her granddaughter. 

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