Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Article: Texas VegFest 2013

Enjoying a vegan cupcake from Capital City Bakery
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending an annual event called the Texas VegFest. It is basically a one-day outdoor expo for vegans, with food, special events (mainly speakers), and live music. I was most interested in the food area. Read on for my thoughts.

The VegFest was larger than I expected, but still a modest-sized event.  It took us about two hours to walk around and enjoy the various vendors, although this included time to sit and eat. There were quite a few people and we parked several blocks away. Traffic wasn't too crazy around the event site, Fiesta Gardens, a large park near downtown Austin (located near the lake).

There was a broad range of vendors at the event. There were about 10-15 tents for prepared food suitable for meals, ranging from the usual (salads and wraps) to the unexpected (shepherd's pie). I tried mac and cheese and shepherd's pie from The Happy Vegan Baker, and it was quite delicious. I especially enjoyed how many of the prepared food vendors offered smaller sizes at lower prices, encouraging sampling. Other food vendors included bakeries with pastries and desserts, ice cream (Nada Moo and Sweet Ritual), protein powders (such as Plant Fusion), and snacks (such as Beanitos chips). There were several vendors offering samples. Some vendors seemed to be there simple for publicity, while others offered goods for sale.

There were a few other exhibitors, such as activist groups (PETA, Action for Animals, the Humane Society), vegan stores (such as Herbavore Clothing Co. and Food Fight) and even one beauty product company (NYR Organic). The focus was definitely on food, and there were few vendors who didn't offer food in some form.

The biggest drawback I found to this event was that certain vendors were running out of supplies when we got there (less than halfway through the festival). The event ran from 11-6, and we came looking for lunch around 2 pm. My friends were particularly disappointed that we had missed the beer, and the original Good Seed burgers (a local veggie burger). The other disappointment we found was that the music was located in the center of the vendors, and the volume was so loud that conversation with my friends and the vendors was sometimes difficult.

Also of note was the fact that there were legitimate bathrooms inside the building where speeches were held, there was a suggested donation but no admission fee, attendees received a good map of the events, and there was an abundance of people ready to answer questions, who were clearly visible in red shirts. It was a well-organized event in general, and I felt like it was a nice taste of vegan culture, particularly in Austin, but with a few out-of-town guests. I feel lucky to live in a city like Austin that puts on such a large event to help promote veganism and show the food at its best.

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