All Aboard the 100-Percent Vegan Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise

Food, glorious food! VN Publisher Joseph Connelly spends a week in the Caribbean eating from seven different restaurants.

The 10th Holistic Holiday at Sea sailed the Caribbean March 2 to 9, with VegNews sponsoring the annual vegan and quasi-macrobiotic health cruise. For the third consecutive year, the event took place aboard the luxury Italian ocean liner the MSC Poesia, hosting 1,400 attendees (with 200 more turned away for lack of space).

I was pleased to represent VegNews, and worked closely with directors Sandy Pukel and John Belleme of nonprofit host Taste of Health to add special touches to this milestone tour, which set sail from Ft. Lauderdale, FL and circumvented the northwestern Caribbean with stops in Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman Island; and Falmouth, Jamaica. If you stretch the truth a bit, along with the arcane and asinine US boycott, you could almost add Cuba to the above itinerary, as we literally sailed completely around the forbidden island, at times almost close enough to touch it.

VegNews hosted a screening of the award-winning film Vegucated—so well-received it turned two senior sisters, 85-year-old Jean Scheinman and 77-year old Sue Miller, veg on the spot. After the film the question-and-answer session continued until we had to clear the theater for the next session, a lecture “How Sweet It Isn’t” by VN’s VegWellness columnist, Christina Pirello. Other renowned speakers on deck this year included Neal Barnard, MD; T. Colin Campbell, Phd.; Rory Freedman; and 86-year-old macrobiotic pioneer Michio Kushi. 

Of course the highlight of all vegan gatherings is food. Each dinner aboard the ship is a five-course plated feast, including appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert. VegNews coordinated entrées from a half-dozen of the leading vegan restaurants in the US, served as the last six suppers. The delicious dishes and participating restaurants included Lentil Stew with Millet-Almond Pilaf (Millennium, San Francisco), Tempeh Cakes and Mashed Corn/Millet with Shiitake Gravy (Candle 79, New York City), Portabello Ballotines with Grilled Polenta (Portobello, Portland, OR), Fusilli Pasta with Pesto and Steamed Broccoli (Karyn’s on Green, Chicago), Tempeh with Wild Rice (Real Food Daily, Los Angeles), and Oven Roasted Tofu, Hawaiian Pesto, and Basmati/Wild Rice (Vedge, Philadelphia). 

As if these six restaurants aren’t enough, the night before the cruise set sail I attended the now-annual Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine fundraiser at Fort Lauderdale’s fabulous Sublime. Owner Nanci Alexander served as our table’s host, and the courses kept coming and coming. Our quartet savored the incredible Frito Misto (cauliflower), Upper Crust Flatbread (vegan caviar), and Caprese Salad (to-die-for cashew cheese over sliced tomato and basil) appetizers; devoured the Sublime Picatta, Portobello Stack, and Mushroom Risotto Cake entrées; and topped it all off with a dessert trio of Chocolate Nirvana, Coconut Cake, and Apple Pie Crumb a la Mode. And yes, all the food was (gulp) … sublime! 

To see photo albums of food, people, and sites from the 2013 Holistic Holiday at Sea, visit Veg News’ Facebook page.

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