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The City Journals

Annual VegFest celebrates veganism and promotes animal rights

Oct 05, 2021 09:49AM ● By Anagha Rao

The 5th annual VegFest took place Sept. 11. (Anagha Rao/City Journals)

By Anagha Rao | [email protected] 

The 5th annual VegFest took place Sept. 11 at Liberty Square in downtown SLC. This year’s event showcased many plant-based and vegan businesses in Utah, an all-vegan beer garden, live music and a kid’s area. 

VegFest was founded in 2016 by Amy Meyer, Jeremy Beckham, Jordan Halliday, Lidya Hardy and Liz Slusser. This small but mighty team organized this event on behalf of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC). “People in Salt Lake knew what was happening on factory farms and wanted to do something about it but didn’t know how,” said Meyer, the director of the UARC. 

This event is a way for local residents to try tasty, new vegan dishes while supporting local businesses. Seasons Plant Based Bistro brought their house-made vegan mozzarella sticks and mac and cheese balls. Passion Flour showcased its colorful vegan macaron ice cream sandwiches.  The UARC booth distributed their nachos with taco-style meat substitute. 

Despite the name, VegFest isn’t just for vegans. According to attendee surveys, 48% of attendees of their last VegFest event were not vegan. “It’s a great way to show nonvegans the wide variety of vegan foods besides salad,” Meyer said. 

For adults 21 and older, VegFest had a beer garden serving mixed drinks and locally crafted beer from Bohemian Brewery. Also, the beer garden featured unique imported beers from a local brewery in Munich, Germany. 

VegFest provides a sense of community to vegans and nonvegans throughout Salt Lake. Meyers said, “Oftentimes, new vegans can have trouble finding a sense of belonging. VegFest is an opportunity where people can come and meet people in real life and find that this is such a supportive and friendly event.” 

However, the best part of VegFest is that it is free. Although many other vegetarian and vegan events are not free to attend, UARC is committed to keeping it a free event forever. “I think it’s important to keep it as welcoming and inclusive as possible by making it free to come in and see everything,” Meyer said.  

In addition to VegFest, the UARC conducts many initiatives throughout Salt Lake City to promote veganism and protect animal rights. One of their primary campaigns is a project to end gas chamber euthanasia in all animal shelters in Utah. The coalition recently succeeded in ending gas chamber euthanasia in North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS). 

Now, their efforts are turned to South Utah Valley Animal Shelter (SUVAS). At VegFest, the UARC had a booth where participants wrote postcards advocating for the abolition of gas chamber euthanasia. These cards were sent to SUVAS so the shelter staff can see how important this issue is to the public. 

“It is important to end the gas chambers because they are the least humane and most ineffective approach. I’ve heard of mother and baby cats having to go through gas chambers multiple times, which creates needlessly cruel suffering,” said Emily Keller, founder of Keller Kittens (kellerkittens.org) and VegFest volunteer. 

Check out the SLC VegFest website or Utah Animal Rights Coalition on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about this event.