A growing community coming together
OC Veg Fest Merchandise Booth sells vegan-themed clothing. (Loren Chavez, Lariat)
Vendors and organizers have held the OC Veg Fest to educate others about the vegan message for the past five years at the OC Fair and Event Center. The event houses vendors, advocates, live music, as well as live cooking demos.
According to Vegan Bits, a vegan resource and information website, “Only one-in-four vegetarians — or 0.5% of the USA adult population — is vegan.” However, the growing number of vegans in Southern California has led to the availability of more vegan products, options, and restaurants. This steadily expanding community has therefore given OC Veg Fest the title of “The largest vegan festival in the world.”
A misconception about the festival is that only vegans attend. Attendees ranged from vegetarian to vegan to neither. Of the three high school students, Ali O’Brien, Michael McDonald, and Georgia Minsey, none are vegan. Their incentive for attending this event was for a school project.
“We were trying to find something to do for our broadcast journalism class and we found this and actually being here now, it’s actually kind of cool seeing all the reasons and all the types of motivations people have to go vegan,” O’Brien said.
“I have always found it quite intriguing that our diet could change our lifestyle so much so I kind of wanted to grab more information on that,” McDonald said.
“I think it’s really interesting coming out here for such a separate reason that’s not motivated by a lifestyle and seeing how dedicated people are to it,” Minsey said.
Ryan Prince, a Veg Fest volunteer, has been vegan for almost eight years and was there to provide information for the attendees. Ryan elaborated that his role was to “Give an insight on vegan health and what veganism does for the planet and everything that lives on it.”
The large amount of samples also drew people into the festival, almost every booth inside offered some sort of vegan sample from vegan cheesecake to croutons to protein shakes. Although veganism is more than diet, the vast amount of food vendors had massive lines. Food trucks carrying vegan pizza, nachos, donuts, cinnamon buns, and mochi were just a small sample of the numerous vendors parked around the area catering to hundreds.
Activists also used this event in order to reaffirm their message that we could be doing more to protect animals. Peta, Animal Protection and Rescue League, and Anonymous for the Voiceless also had booths throughout the festival.
Kellie Kahmar was one activist at the Anonymous for the Voiceless booth. She was there to provide information for the Huntington Beach chapter of the organization how people could get involved with their organization.
“Once a month we all meet at the pier and we do what’s called a cube of truth,” she said. “A group of activists come and wear the Guy Fawkes masks and they’ll see either a sign that says truth or a TV or laptop that shows undercover footage of animal agriculture industries.”
Hundreds attended the OC Veg Fest, no matter the reason, all were connected through the widespread sense of community and acceptance.