Vegan food festival celebrates meat-free living — June 9, 2018

Chow down with a clear conscience at Vegfest, where you can find everything from vegan cheese to something called "burger dough."



Philly VegFest
June 9, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Bainbridge Green, 300-400 Bainbridge St., Philadelphia
Free entry, pay-as-you-go food and drink

The cheesesteak casts a long shadow in Philadelphia.

But veganism is increasingly popular here and around the country. Six percent of the population now identifies as vegan, up from only 1 percent in 2014, and Philadelphia has a growing reputation as a vegan dining destination, from fine to fast casual, cocktail bars to coffeeshops.

“Philadelphia is just the right size that there’s still a sense of community,” says Richard Rogers Jr., director of Philly VegFest. In recent years, he’s noticed not only more vegan-centric establishments, but also more vegan options at “traditional” restaurants as well as more commercial brands offering vegan products. He says it’s a response to market demand.

“Vegans aren’t quiet,” he says.

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Nor are plant-based diets the boring, lentil-heavy stereotype they’re sometimes made out to be. Proving that, Philly VegFest returns Saturday after a two-year hiatus with more than 40 vendors, companies and nonprofit organizations showcasing their contributions to the local vegan community. The outdoor event is free to attend and will also include live music, lectures and demonstrations from vegan speakers and chefs.

Rogers says people attend this kind of event not expecting to have to second-guess whether this sauce or that sandwich or that sauce might contain an animal product. Even the musicians he booked for the festival are on a plant-based diet.

The festival isn’t only for vegans though, but for anyone interested in the vegan lifestyle. Rogers says people are drawn in for an array of reasons, including an interest in animal rights, ecological sustainability, or health. As such, the festival has opportunities for “veg-curious” carnivores interested in eating less meat, vegetarians wanting to diminish their consumption of animal products like dairy, and seasoned vegans seeking new dining options.

The event will also feature several vegan speakers. Indra Lahiri is the founder of Indraloka, a sanctuary for animals removed from farms due to cruelty and inhumane conditions. Dr. William Duffy of Penn Medicine, who focuses on “lifestyle medicine,” will talk about the medical benefits of veganism. Vegan chef Lenka Zivkovic will demonstrate how to prepare some vegan meals people can make for themselves at home. And Vincent DePaul of Gangster Vegan Organics will talk about his life and his mission to get kids more into veganism.

More than a dozen food vendors will be on site, offering vegan snacks and beverages. Some highlights include:

· Based in Central Jersey, Macrovegetarian sells prepared grab-and-go vegan meals including noodles, dumplings and salads through Whole Foods and other grocery stores.
· The Kung Fu Hoagies cart has operated around Philadelphia since 2011, serving up vegetarian and vegan-friendly versions of Vietnamese favorites such as bánh mì and phở.
· Luhv Food has a bistro in Hatboro and a stand in Reading Terminal selling vegan soups, salads and “burger dough” in organic markets around the area.
· Ste Martaen is a Chicago-based company specializing in vegan cheese, with artisanal dairy-free versions of Colby, Muenster, and smoked Gouda.

Twenty additional vendors will showcase vegan beauty products, apparel, crafts and other goods, including:
· GSL Organics is a Lansdale-based company that manufactures soaps, creams and other beauty products with a commitment to contributing 10 percent of its sales to local charities and community organizations.
· The Fanciful Fox is a Brooklyn-based “homemade soaperie” that makes and sells vegan bath and beauty products.
· Eighty percent of the vegetables used in Hazel & Ash Organics‘ sauces, salsas and other jarred products come from its organic garden, with the remainder sourced from local farms.
· Redefine Your Mind, Wear Bear Bones, Dynur, and Teeminder offer a range of vegan-friendly fashion options. Because nothing says hypocrite like eating vegan cheese in your leather jacket.

This article is part of a new effort recommending things to do in the Philly region. Tell us what you think.

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