The largest vegetarian celebration in D.C. occurred Oct. 3 with an estimated 15,000 attendees, 23 guest speakers and musicians, 28 vendors, 60 exhibitors and 42 non-profit organizations. VegFest was originally founded by the Vegetarian Society of DC in 1997, but is now organized by Compassion Over Killing, a DC-centered animal protection charity.
The goal of VegFest is to bring plant-based, meatless and dairy free foods to the public as well as encourage the exploration of new cuisines and healthy alternatives. The festival is made up of passionate activists (vegans and vegetarians alike) wearing t-shirts with phrases such as “I don’t eat my friends” and “Ask me why I am vegetarian.”
The growing emphasis on anti-cruelty brought a new crowd to the event, turning a light-hearted celebration into an active animal rights movement. Every booth fervidly advocated for various rights and lifestyle choices that encompassed the motives of the festival, as well as presented trays and baskets displaying dairy free dishes and desserts to back up their beliefs. The vegan alternatives had surprisingly similar tastes to the their meaty counterparts, and by the end of the day the crowds seemed enthusiastic about the animal-free substitutes and the cause that they stood for.
“What I love about this festival is that there’s so many positive people,” said president of the Vegetarian Society of DC, Saurabh Dalal. Whether it be encouraging the adoption of a three-legged dog, passing out hundreds of free bananas, or proudly displaying the recipe to cheeseless quesadillas, the vendors, exhibitors, and non-profit organizations came together last weekend to share their hopes and ideas for a leafier tomorrow.