No harm, no fowl: VegFest returns to South Bend

Published: Oct. 23, 2022 at 11:16 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Thousands of people came out to the Century Center to support local vegan vendors, learn more about veganism, or try the lifestyle for the first time.

“As a vegan of almost two years, it’s exciting to see all these new opportunities and just to have options because when you are vegan, you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to going out to eat or kind of grabbing something that is faster, like a nice grab-and-go meal, so getting introduced to all these different companies that have those options, it’s so exciting,” said South Bend resident Tiffany Taylor.

The festival aims to promote plant-based eating, compassion for animals, and conservation of the environment.

“I’ve been vegan for seven years in January, and I made the switch for health reasons,” said Karen Sommers, Chair for Michiana VegFest 2022. “A lot of people do it from an environmental perspective, and others do it obviously for the animals. So, VegFest is for the planet, for our health, and for the animals.”

There were around 70 vendors, 26 being food vendors, sampling and selling vegan goods and animal-free products.

One of the local vendors was PaddyShack Ice Cream out of Granger, who offered festival goers three vegan flavors to enjoy.

“We realized there are a lot of veg-curious people, vegetarians, and those of us that are vegan, and we wanted the community to know what resources existed within the region and encourage others to be more open to providing vegetarian and vegan foods,” said Sommers.

They also featured guest speakers who spoke on the benefits of going vegan. Martin’s Super Markets sponsored four chef demonstrations showing how simple and delicious vegan meals can be.

“It’s been great to see the growth that’s happened within the vegan community,” said John Lewis, film director and social media influencer. Back in the day, we had one product, which is probably Boca, and now you’ve got impossible, Beyond, Boca, Chow, and Field Roast, so there are so many different options as time has gone along, and the accessibility has become greater.”

For whatever reason vegans give for switching, the main driving force behind it remains making the world a better place, one natural, healthy, animal-free product at a time.

“That’s what veganism is about in the first place. It’s about looking out for others, whether it be human or non-human, it’s about love and compassion and wanting to see everybody grow and be healthy.”

Michiana Vegfest is a nonprofit, and all funds raised at the event will support next year’s event.

The featured speakers:

• Dr. Alan Goldhamer, author of “The Health Promoting Cookbook” and co-author of “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness.”

• Glen Merzer, author of “Food Is Climate” and “Own Your Health”

• Robert Cheeke, author of “Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness,” “Shred It!” and “Plant-Based Muscle”

The featured chefs: Jasmine Bradley of Vegan Bites by Jas

• Chef AJ, cooking show host, author

• Laura Crotty, culinary author

• Crystal Hallwood, Vegan Michiana demo chef