Arts & Events

Vegfest in Seattle preserves Washington’s fervent vegetarian culture

On Mar. 24 and 25, vegetarians, vegans and foodies alike gathered in the Seattle Center to partake in a festival of vegetarian feasting.

Vegfest is an annual event that goes beyond providing tasty treats: it also educates and creates awareness about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

Vegetarians of Washington, a non-profit group, are the masterminds behind Vegfest. They gather the sponsors, promote the festival and attempt to create a fun and educational experience for everyone each year.

Along with offering food, books on vegetarian/vegan living are sold, and guest speakers and food demonstrations are provided as a spectacle.

There is an ever-present population of vegetarians at the University of Puget Sound. When an event like Vegfest comes along, it brings out support from the Puget Sound vegetarian community.

“It makes me realize that I am not the only one who is a vegetarian,” student Kara Klepinger said.

“It is nice to be surrounded by a lot of people who share the same vegetarian values as me,” Lisa Tucker said.

The Vegetarians of Washington claim that it is their mission to educate as many people as possible about the health benefits and social effects of vegetarian food. Many vegetarians and vegans have different reasons for why they made that choice, and Vegfest attempts to shed light on most of them.

At Puget Sound, many of the numerous reasons to become vegetarian are represented in the university’s student body.

“My decision to become vegetarian was a sort of activism for me. It was the first big decision I’ve made based on my political and moral beliefs, and it was a decision I made about my own body,” Erika Barker said.

“I am a vegetarian for environmental reasons and though it may seem that I play a small part in the food industry, I feel better that I am trying to make a change,” Tucker said.

“Regardless of the reasons why people choose to be vegetarian, it encourages me to see so many others because enough vegetarians and vegans can really make an impact on the meat industry or environmental factors,” Klepinger said.

Many people who attend Vegfest feel that they are perpetuating change, much like Barker, Tucker and Klepinger.

While social change is clearly important to Vegfest, personal health is also greatly promoted. Along with educational demonstrations, Vegfest provided cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose tests at their festival.

As Vegfest continues on yearly, the benefits of the festival for vegetarians and vegans increase and it continues to excite vegetarians who have not had an opportunity to attend.

“It’s super exciting. It’s a giant gathering of people who appreciate vegetarian food. It’s a place to find new recipes, discover to veg-friendly companies, or to jump-start your palate,” Tucker said.

Beyond being an exciting event, Vegfest establishes connections and enforces the strong presence of vegetarian or vegan living in communities.

“Having something like Vegfest also normalizes vegetarianism or veganism by showing vegetarians or vegans that there are plenty of other people like them,” Barker said.

Although Vegfest occurs only once a year, the Vegetarians of Washington are a non-profit group that is always working to raise awareness about vegetarianism. They thrive as a community that works to provide knowledge about the advantages and positive change vegetarianism can precipitate.