On Saturday, October 27th from 10am-6pm, the 13th annual Central Florida Veg Fest will be happening at Festival Park in Orlando. I talked with Saffy Carson, the Vendor Coordinator for Vegetarians of Central Florida to find out more about this event. She describes some of the delicious food options and activities available at the event, how "there are really only benefits of being vegan," and that you can enjoy ice cream and pizza (both vegan, of course) while helping the environment and maintaining a healthy diet! 

Can you tell us what Veg Fest is and how long has it been a part of the Orlando Community?

Nancy Butler

Veg Fest is one of the largest and most successful vegan food festivals in the country. This will be our 13th annual event and we hope it will be the biggest one yet. We get thousands of attendees and we like to think that Veg Fest has become a staple of not only the Central Florida vegan community but of the Central Florida community as a whole. 

Does this event target only vegetarians or vegans? Are meat-eaters welcome?

Nancy Butler

While this event is an exclusively vegan event in that all of the food vendors sell only vegan food, we hope that vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, meat-eaters, and everything in between come and enjoy the food and the fun! Vegan food is not only delicious, it's good for the environment and your health so the more people eat it the better! 

How does this event showcase the benefits of vegetarianism beyond heath/diet concerns?

One of the critiques of veganism/vegetarianism is that vegans are all annoying food police that only eat beans and rice. Central Florida Veg Fest tries to counteract this image by showing that a vegan lifestyle can be fun, easy, and include food so delicious that you don't even miss the cheese and bacon! Also, many of our vendors are concerned with protecting the environment in various ways and we try to send the message that eating vegan food is good for the environment. 

Who are some of the food vendors that you will have there?

Nancy Butler

Many of the food vendors are Orlando staples even outside of the vegan community. Dandelion Communitea Cafe, Dixie Dharma, Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, and The Vegan Hot Dog Cart will all be in attendance. Some food vendors such as Raw Juicing and Detox cater to people interested in trying raw vegan foods, while others such as Oh My Cod Vegan Seafood and Noo Cow show that vegan food can be as delicious, if not more so, than animal based food. There are so many more food vendors and honestly whatever kind of vegan food you are interested in trying can be found at CF Veg Fest.

Aside from the food vendors, what other activities will be offered?

Nancy Butler

Central Florida Veg Fest hosts a wide range of activities besides eating. We have a speakers tent where influential vegans talk about a wide range of subjects such as the health benefits of veganism, relevant issues about the environment, and how veganism has influenced their life. We also have food preparation demonstrations, a Veggie Kids Zone, yoga and meditation lessons, and live music. 

Briefly, what do you think can be gained from a vegetarian/vegan diet?

Nancy Butler

Being vegetarian/vegan can be beneficial in so many ways. It's good for your health (quitting dairy helped me clear up that acne that everyone told me would go away once I finished puberty but was still hanging around in college) and it's great for the environment - did you know that growing crops to feed cows and chickens is a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon rain forest? Or that emissions from cows (yes, that means cow farts) are some of the worst greenhouse gases? But not only that, being vegan gives you a community of people that are accepting, kind, and cool. I always feel instantly connected when I meet someone else who is vegetarian or vegan because you know that someone who has chosen that lifestyle is probably similar to you in other ways. 

Lastly, what is your favorite part of the event?

Nancy Butler

I am a sucker for vegan ice cream so I always try to get some of that every year. But really the best part about the event is just the atmosphere. The live music, delicious smells, and the bustle of people all contribute to an event that is a fun and relaxing oasis from the troubles of everyday life.

The Central Florida Veg Fest is the place to be for vegans, vegetarians, food-lovers, environmental activists, and meat-eaters across Central Florida. You won't want to miss this food and fun-filled event, which keeps growing as more and more people realize the benefits of being vegan. As Saffy Cason shared, "We need to protect our planet and if that means eating coconut ice cream or cheese-y nachos (made with fake cheese of course), I guess I don't mind!"

*All photos were included with permission from Saffy Cason