Vegans, mark your calendars because it’s VegFest season! Between now and the middle of fall, dozens of indoor and outdoor community events are scheduled throughout the world to celebrate vegan food and culture. But with so much awesome food and amazing vendors in one setting, feeling the stress of sampling everything can be daunting. As VegFest experts, we know this feeling well, which is why we’ve created six easy steps to ensure your veg fest experience is as fun, fast, and friendly as possible. One last piece of advice? Yes, you want that extra fudge brownie.
1. Plan ahead
In major cities, VegFests attract thousands of attendees and vendors, which creates a plethora of traffic and bodies around which to maneuver. Because of this, planning ahead is key. Festival websites offer plenty of helpful information, such as vendor lists, speaker schedules, transportation instructions, and street closures. If you live near the area, lessen your stress by riding a bicycle, taking public transportation, or calling a ride-share service (the latter is a great idea if you plan to enjoy the beer garden). For those traveling by car, note the street closures and parking suggestions, but be prepared for a long walk, as often it is easier to park a mile away and walk into the event instead of hoping for a closer spot and suffering through the traffic congestion.
2. Make a list
Once you know how you will get to a veg fest, check out the vendor and speaker lists so you can make a note of which vendors you definitely want to try and where they are located. This will not only save you time but keep you focused as well. veg fests are known for an overabundance of tempting vegan options, and, sadly, eating everything on site is impossible. However, having a list of must-try vendors will ensure you get what you want most without being too distracted by the magnitude of delicious food. After you create your vendor list, look up the speaking/meet-and-greet times for any participants with whom you want to take a selfie. Allow time to pick up some food at one of your bookmarked vendors, then eat as you listen to your favorite speaker. With just a bit of research, you can save time and tailor your day to what best suits your taste buds and interests.
3. Bring the essentials
Before you leave your residence, be sure to bring a reusable water bottle, comfortable shoes, your ID, cash, and to-go containers. That’s right—to-go containers because some vendors serve on flimsy paper plates or napkins, which makes leftovers nearly impossible. But with a to-go container, you have the luxury of sampling more without inducing a festival food coma (and you’ll have lunch for the following day). Also—don’t forget to represent your vegan pride by wearing your favorite plant-based t-shirt!
4. Be early
Once you’ve packed and have your must-eat list, do your best to arrive at the beginning of the event. Food vendors often sell out hours before the festival concludes, and you certainly don’t want to miss out on any delicious vegan food. To remedy this potential problem, strategize by visiting the popular vendors during the first hour of the event to avoid long lines, as they tend to lengthen as the event goes on. With the popular vendors crossed off your list, you have plenty of time to grab a snack at booths with shorter lines.
5. Bring friends
Friends are great company, but they also offer key logistical benefits. First, carpooling with friends means you have someone with whom to share your excitement (and parking fees), and designating a driver if someone plans to enjoy the alcoholic offerings (or really strong kombucha) is always the right idea. Next, a friend allows you to compare your must-try vendor lists to determine which booths you have in common. By sharing food, you spend less and sample more! Plus, many vendors sell their goodies in shareable quantities, so your friends can help you finish that pack of eight miniature cupcakes without feeling guilty. Finally, a friend can stand in one line while you stand in another to maximize your time. Designate a meet-up area where you can split your plant-based bounty, and start eating!
6. Be social
Whether you come with friends or go solo, make a point to meet new people. After all, veg fests are community events, so take part by interacting with your fellow plant-based fair-goers. Talk to those in line around you—it’s more engaging than scrolling through your Instagram feed. To break the ice, ask which booths they have tried and what they recommend. More than likely, you are bound to find a few things in common, and because it’s a festival full of vegan or vegan-curious people, they are probably pretty awesome. Make a new acquaintance, network, and pass the time while hungrily eyeing the front of the line where your food awaits.
Tanya Flink is an Orange County-based vegan, foodie, certified Master Personal Trainer, and plans to attend all the VegFests in Southern California.
Photo courtesy of Ethical Elephant