On February 17th, 2018, the Central Coast Vegans held the first ever Central Coast Veg Fest at the SLO Veteran's Hall on Grand Avenue, just minutes away from the Cal Poly campus. This event was organized by Peggy Koteen and Jenny B. Jones, with much help from Josh Meckel from the Loving Coop in Spokane, WA.

With about 3,000 attendees, San Luis Obispo's first vegan food festival was definitely a success. This event featured 11 different vegan food vendors, several of which sold out, including Lori's Original Lemonade. Inside the Veteran's hall were also many nonprofit organizations as well vegan merchandisers. Veg Fest also hosted a number of plant-based speakers such as Whitney Lauritsen (Eco Vegan Gal) and cycling champion Cherie Moore. Several news stations came and filmed as well, giving the event some much-needed publicity to help spread the vegan message! Now, let's highlight all the amazing food vendors at the vent. 

1. Bliss Cafe

Bliss Cafe, a vegan cafe local to San Luis Obispo, was a popular vendor at the Central Coast Veg Fest. Bliss is one of my favorite eateries in SLO, and I was so pleased to see their booth at this event being patronized by so many hungry vegans (and non-vegans!). Their festival menu featured their most popular items, such as their donuts, bliss balls, eggplant coconut curry, a tofu scramble breakfast, and the ever-so-popular protein buddha bowl. For some some incredible vegan treats, superfood smoothies, and nourishing lunch and dinner meals, visit Bliss Cafe at 778 Higuera St., open from 9am daily. 

Arianna Kotlier

Naturally, although I frequent Bliss Cafe on my own time, I had to stop by their booth at Veg Fest and grab a protein buddha bowl, which features brown rice, roasted golden potatoes, baked tofu, steamed kale, avocado, and a dressing. This bowl is my ideal lunch or dinner– full of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates as well as many micronutrients from the generous portion of kale

2. Southern Fried Vegan

Southern Fried Vegan is almost a vegan cult classic. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, this vegan soul-food eatery shows up at nearly every vegan food festival. Their menu features a wide variety of decadent and comforting southern foods, including mac n' cheese, jambalaya, ribs, philly cheese steak, and fried chicken and waffles. Unsurprisingly, the line for this vendor was incredibly long and all their dishes received rave reviews. I've definitely got my eye on the mac n' cheese and the chicken and waffles for next time. 

Arianna Kotlier

Featured here is the mac n' cheese and BBQ beef on top of their famous jambalaya, two popular items on the menu.

3. Taco Tuyo

Taco Tuyo is a fully vegan and handmade Mexican cuisine vendor based in Santa Barbara, CA. They actually pride themselves on on being the first fully plant-based Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara. Their menu at the festival featured jackfruit nachos, bean and quinoa tacos, mushroom and heart of palm ceviche and chips, as well as a hibiscus agua fresca. 

4. Jade's Acai

Jade's Acai is an organic superfood bowl vendor and catering company that  local farmers markets, events and fairs.Their menu features the classic acai bowl, as well as more exotic combinations such as a pitaya bowl and blue majik bowl. The blue majik bowl is especially eye-catching, made with pineapple, banana, and blue spirulina. They also make their own chia pudding and homemade juices as well. Definitely check out their instagram, @jades_acai for some drool-worthy smoothie bowls and fruity plant-based goodness. 

Arianna Kotlier

5. Mini Drops Ice Cream

Hello, Dippin' Dots! Just kidding, but these are vegan dippin' dots, made from plant milks and natural ingredients. Mini Drops is a Los Angeles based company, and is also featured at many vegan events and festivals. 

Wondering how these little drops are made? According to the Mini Drops website, "each dot is hand made and then slowly dripped into nitrogen to create the Ultra Freezing little drops we all know and love." Their full list of flavors includes chocolate caramel, cookies n' cream, chocolate, vanilla, rainbow, orange creamsicle, french toast, rocky road, banana split, carrot cake, and cotton candy. 

6. Whale Bird Kombucha 

Meet Whale Bird Kombucha, a kombucha brewery local to San Luis Obispo! Small-batch and 100% organic, Whale Bird sells their kombucha in cans as well as on tap at various restaurants and grocery stores in SLO, including Lassen's and California Fresh Market. They have a wide variety of flavors, ranging from ginger sasparilla to jasmine bliss. 

Arianna Kotlier

At the festival a selection of their most popular flavors were served, including grapefruit (aka pamplemousse), mango-guava, lavender lemon, and passionfruit green tea. 

Arianna Kotlier

And that's a wrap! I personally had a great time at this event as a fellow vegan, filling my stomach with delicious vegan food and connecting with fellow plant-based eaters. Organizer Jenny B. Jones is even happier with the event than I was, as she and the Central Coast Vegans succeeded in their mission to "attract, educate and support veganism for the H.E.C.K. of it (Health, Environment, Conscience, and Kindness)!" For anyone interested in helping to organize the 2019 Central Coast Veg Fest, contact info@ccvegfest.org