She was sick, in a wheelchair before she founded vegan food festival

Alison Burgos (left) was facing a crisis after years of being overweight and fighting rheumatoid arthritis. (Charles Trainor)

Alison Burgos realized things were dire when she needed a wheelchair.

For years, the pain had been building. In her hands, her wrists, her ankles, and especially in her knees. First, the newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult to walk. Then impossible. Some days, just getting out of bed sent lightning bolts through her joints. Eventually, she needed a right knee replacement.

She was 41.

Burgos made a drastic change. Overweight most of her life, Burgos started with a three-month cleanse, a supervised diet of strictly fruits and vegetables, and transitioned into a full vegan diet.

She lost more than 60 pounds. She got out of the wheelchair. She got off four of the five medications she was prescribed for her disease. And when she decided to propose to Gaber, she got down on bended, surgically replaced knee, captured in a YouTube video that still makes both of them cry.

That lifestyle shift is the reason, three years ago, she and Gaber started the SEED Food and Wine Festival, which runs Nov. 2-6. The event highlights the benefits of a plant-based diet, with everything from a chefs’ battle to see who can make the most delicious plant-based burger (meat-eating clarion Sef Gonzalez, aka Burger Beast, is among the judges) to swank cocktail parties and farm-to-table dinners, culminating in a SoBe-style grand tasting Nov. 5.

READ MORE: She was sick, in a wheelchair before she went vegan — then she founded a food festival


What: SEED Food and Wine Festival highlighting a plant-based diet and lifestyle.

When: The festival runs from Nov. 2 to 6, with the main “Tasting Village” on Nov. 5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: The grand tasting is at Mana, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Events throughout the week are at different locations. The event kicks off with a ticketed cocktail hour at 27 Bar and Restaurant, 2727 Indian Creek Blvd., Miami Beach.

Tickets: Prices vary by event, from $15 to $125 per event, to $559 for an all-access pass to every event.

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