Austin, Texas (my hometown) will soon be hosting its first vegetarian festival, the Texas VegFest. In light of this exciting upcoming event, which I will write about more in the near future, I’m excited to have this guest post from Matthew Nunn, detailing some of his favorite vegetarian festivals around the world.
5 Vegetarian Festivals Around the World by Matthew Nunn
Vegetarians, amongst many other weird and wonderful characters, are nothing if not creative. We may have our differences when it comes to the confines or borders that we operate within, but vegans and veggies can all attest to a history of culinary ingenuity. This is nowhere more evident than at Veggie Festivals, where people the world over congregate to sample, savor and show-off all manner of vegetarian food. Consequently, feast your eyes upon this roundup of some of the top veggie festivals around the world.
International Vegetarian Union (IVU) World Congress
The International Vegetarian Union holds the IVU Congress, or Vegfest, which in 2012 will be hosted in both San Francisco and Los Angeles from October 5-16. Numerous sponsors get involved and offer packages for accommodation and city guides, and it is clear that with two great host locations this year these festivals will feature fun-packed holidays for those attending.
San Francisco has long been a city not shy of breaking the boundaries, and as hosts of Vegfest we know it’ll create an environment and atmosphere bold enough to step up and create an event worthy of such an important title. With notable landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Park, you’ll find plenty of places to work up an appetite for the festival.
For those of you considering travelling around the world to such events, or wondering when the next vegetarian festival will be near you, then the IVU World Congress is one to keep an eye on. The two previous years it was held in Jakarta/Bali and Dresden with plans afoot for the first IVU World Congress in Africa. They also regularly hold a number of regional festivals as well.
Veggie Fest, USA
Veggie Fest is a 2-day summer event held in the States and in 2012 it will be held in Naperville, Illinois from Aug 11-12. This is a great festival if you like a well-organized, well-sponsored set up, something that is clearly evident in the food courts on offer. Live music, entertainment for children and a well-branded affair, it’s easy to see why this is one of the biggest vegetarian festivals in the States.
There’s also the opportunity to get involved beyond simply eating the delights on offer, with food demonstrations showing you how it’s done. They also set the ‘Vegetarian Challenge’, so if you are considering vegetarianism or have a partner who you would like to introduce to this healthy lifestyle, then partaking in this is a great eye opener for potential visitors to this event.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
For a bit more flamboyance and bang with plenty of fireworks on display, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival has definitely carved a distinct character for itself. Combining Asian flair with the vegetarian cuisine takes the meals on offer to another level, and the festival is a treat for your eyes and ears as much as for your taste buds. Lasting nine days, there are many traditions and beliefs tied into the festival. The date ranges yearly as it is held from the first to the ninth day in the ninth lunar month, which to Western countries is from September to October. There are also underlying religious beliefs, as the festival was borne out of a time of disease and illness that apparently stopped when the population reverted to a vegetarian diet!
With tattoos, fire, dancing and extreme feats of endurance (walking over hot coals and sharp blades), this is a colorful vibrant festival for any veggies looking for a more authentic experience. You can view festival photos, blog posts, and an estimate of 2012 festival dates here.
Toronto Annual Vegetarian Food Festival and Veggie Pride Parade
Toronto keeps the momentum going for North American vegetarian festivals and hosts the annual Vegetarian Food Festival. This is a three day affair with free admission and many consider it to be the largest event in North America. The Festival drags together many varied speakers who cover different topics, from vegetarian cooking, to dietary benefits and even vegan blogging.
For anyone looking to take it further there’s the additional Veggie Pride Parade. Hosted in Toronto, this is an opportunity to get involved and even dress up in the name of everything veg! This parade is a great example of educating people on the benefits of a vegetarian diet, as well as supporting the traditional beliefs and causes held by many vegetarians.
Moving over to Europe, there’s a keen following of the vegetarian persuasion in the UK. VegfestUK claims to be the biggest Vegan event in the world and this year it will be held in Brighton (March 17-18, 2012) and Bristol (May 25-27, 2012).
The festival features a standard array of over 100 stalls of food, bodycare and information, as well as a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ contest involving expert vegetarian cooks. VegfestUK also takes live performances to the next level, with music, DJs and theatrical shows on throughout the weekend. The event also focuses on diversifying its offering, so alongside the food and health tips there’s also animal care shows and help on offer.
Matthew is a lifelong backpacker and blogger who always finds time for the edible delights when travelling. This year, he’s going to explore more of Europe, and is looking forward to his next holiday in Greece.