After learning about several vegetarian and vegan food festivals in Dallas and Houston, Adrienne Lusk and her friends decided it was time to create one in Austin. With live music and vegan food trucks, the third annual Texas VegFest will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Fiesta Gardens.
“Whenever you have something like VegFest, you think there won’t be anything for you and it’s really the contrary,” Lusk said. “We try to strive to create an event where everyone can feel comfortable.”
Fletch Brendan Good, communications director for the Vegetarian Network of Austin, said VegFest provides an opportunity for any skeptic to sample a variety of vegan and vegetarian food, including vegan donuts and barbecue.
“Reaching people who aren’t interested in plant-based living is the toughest proposition,” Good said. “The best we can hope for is that people try the food and that they see that it tastes good and that it’s not just twigs and berries.”
The festival will host speakers — including chefs, doctors, activists and even an ultimate fighter — to discuss veganism and vegetarianism. There will also be environmental and animal awareness activities.
“If you do have health issues … you really can reduce those symptoms and issues through a plant-based diet,” Lusk said. “And there’s this whole winding system that puts a lot of environmental strain by having a meat and dairy diet.”
The UT student organization Students Against Cruelty to Animals will have a table at VegFest with Austin for Animals. Alex Bean, president of Students Against Cruelty to Animals, said the organization hopes to educate a larger audience.
“For this festival, we want to let people know that we exist,” Bean said. “There are a lot of great organizations that are experts on these subjects that we want to get involved with so that we can be more effective in the community. Even if you go meatless for a few days a week it’s a huge help to animals and the environment.”
UT student group University Vegetarians also plans to attend the festival. University Vegetarians chairwoman Vanessa Chorush said VegFest is a great opportunity for vegetarian students to get involved in the community.
“I chose UT mainly because of the environment and that it’s open to diversity,” said Chorush. “This festival is symbolic of why I chose this city. It’s a smaller specialization within a bigger place. When there are larger community events, we try to go have a UT presence.”