This Saturday in Byrd Park, Richmond VegFest will show us all the most delicious ways to eat a meat-free diet.
For 16 years, the Richmond VegFest has been the go-to for vegan and vegetarian food throughout the area. Now with the ever-growing population of the city turning toward more vegan-friendly options than ever, the festival is adjusting to meet the growth of newcomers and OGs who have now gone vegan. Brenda Morris and Mark Ogilvie, the event coordinator and volunteer organizer for RVA VegFest, respectively, are excited for people to embrace the changes that have been made.
This year, the festival will be held at Byrd Park instead of Bryan Park. This will be the first time in the festival’s 17-year run where the event will be hosted at a new location. Morris hopes the new location will be able to accommodate the crowd more successfully than their original spot has in the past couple of years.
“Bryan Park is a gorgeous park and we all loved having it there, but we really ran out of space,” Morris said. “The biggest complaint we would get every year is parking… so hopefully people will have less of a problem parking than they had in the past in Bryan Park.”
The date has also changed this year. Having previously held the festival during the first weeks of June, guests were sometimes hit by extreme temperatures. Morris joked that the temperature had an effected on her ability to eat.
“I’m a big eater, but I don’t wanna eat when it’s 100 degrees out,” Morris said.
So instead of having the festival around early summer, RVA VegFest relocated to the season’s tail end, taking to Byrd Park on September 14. While early September can host its share of 95-degree days, Morris expects this Saturday to have cool temperatures as well as great weather.
VegFest veterans should appreciate these changes, but newcomers are sure to wonder what they can expect from this festival. As with every major festival in town, the food tops the list of things you can look forward to. According to Ogilvie, this year, the festival will have about 34 food vendors, ranging from My Vegan Sweet Tooth to In The Raw Soul Catering.
The diverse food choices will give guests who are trying to eat a more vegan lifestyle a bigger variety of tastes to try. In the days before the festival got started, vegans like Morris couldn’t find this kind of variety. However, she believes vegans and vegetarians pressuring restaurants to have more vegan-friendly options played a crucial role in bringing a variety of new tastes to the meatless food world.
“Over the years, they have seen that there are not just vegans that are interested,” Morris said. “There are people who are trying to eat healthier, that do care about the environment. When they go out to eat, they want to have these options available, too. So that demand has helped drive this growth, and I think it’s going to continue.”
Along with a wide variety of food options, there will be cooking demonstrations taking place throughout the festival. One of the missions of Richmond VegFest is to convince those who are not vegan to consider more of a plant-based diet. According to Ogilvie, the cooking demos will offer both vegans and non-vegans the opportunity to watch chefs craft meals, as well as hear personal stories about what made them go vegan.
Along with these chefs, there will be guest speakers who will tell their stories, and explain why going vegan is good for humans as well as the environment. Nutritionist Derek Tresize, who will also be in attendance, will help attendees plan out a vegan diet.
Plus, there’s fun for both human babies and fur-babies, as the VegFest will have a section for the kids called the Kids Patch. Guests can bring their pets along, too, and Ogilvie recommends getting there early so guests can get the full experience of the RVA VegFest (and, of course, find a parking spot).
“I get a little disappointed that you get all this wonderful food, and you know if you have one big meal, it’s like ‘ugh I can’t eat anything else,’” Morris said. “[At the festival], you can eat more of the food that’s there.”
The Richmond VegFest will take place on Saturday, September 14 from noon to 6 at Richmond’s Byrd Park. For details and directions, visit their website.
Top Image via Richmond VegFest