On Friday night I tried to grab a quick vegetarian meal in Bogotá’s center. The four vegetarian restaurants we looked up turned out to exist in the ether, and asking elsewhere, the answer to “vegetarian food?” was a simple “no.” Feeling there’s no room at the inn for a vegetarian is a genuine pain, but if chicharron and gallina criolla aren’t for you, the Eco Yoga Festival can put city life frustrations into a relaxed trance, and satiate your appetite for the natural.
In Bogotá’s botanical gardens, the Jardín Botánico, on an almost monthly basis, the city’s most active eco brands and personalities join to take a deep breath and celebrate a side of Colombia not yet topping its tour guides. This 18th edition of the Eco Yoga Festival celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Revolución de la Cuchara.
The worldwide ‘Spoon Revolution’ explores the philosophy that vegetarianism is a solution to problems from cancer and world hunger to deforestation and climate change, and prioritizes animal welfare. But this is still only one element of the festival’s message, with 60 stalls and workshops addressing practical ways humanity can live more harmoniously with nature.
Entering the gardens, the only high rises in sight are the impressive collections of wax palms. Traffic fumes are replaced by the scent of grass and pines, hugely important for Bogotá. Here, the main cause of death among young children is pollution-related respiratory diseases, according to a 2010 report by the Swiss Polytechnic College of Lausanne. So this family day out is just what the doctor ordered, with activities for children “aged 1 to 100”. Further into the gardens, among the trees, a group takes off their shoes and socks for a barefoot trail, part of the growing movement earthing, or grounding, which believes when walking barefoot we absorb electrons from the earth, neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation.
The distant chatter of a laughter yoga workshop is quickly drowned out by the main event, with live performances including Afrikan Soul, a ska reggae band that got the all ages crowd to their feet. The physical element of the festival is very present; the schedule is organized so that you could spend the entire day in yoga workshops which include vinyasa, hatha, partner, or children’s yoga.
If the only way you want to get physical is through taste, you can meet the personalities behind some vegetarian start-ups, including Maha, a healthy and delicious vegetarian restaurant based in Chapinero, or Veggie Cakes, a family business born to bring healthy and vegan deserts to Bogotá.
The Eco Yoga Festival brings together organizations and individuals from across Colombia who promote health, sustainability and compassion for the local community and the planet. The Jardín Botanico is Bogotá’s perfect setting to get in touch with mother earth, not just on the day of the festival.
Jardín Botanico José Celestino Mutis. Av 63 No. 68-95