March 19, 2015 by
Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor
by Marc Bernstein (age 11 – vegan since age 8)
Never before has there been an event like this.Never before has there been a vegan crowd like this. On March 1st, the vegan community of Los Angeles held the first ever Vegan Street Fair. The streets of Bakman and Weddington in North Hollywood were closed off. Months in advance city permits had to be filed and approved to be able to do this. Over fifty food vendors were arranged and set-up early that morning. The Board of Health and the Fire Department went through and inspected after set-up and gave their okay. The DJ started blaring music.Crowds were waiting to enter the streets. At 11:30am food ticket booths opened and at 12pm food stands began serving, which they did non-stop doing for the next six hours when the event ended at 6pm. The fair began with a crowd and it never seemed to shrink throughout the six hours of the event despite Mother Nature.
Crowd gathering at Vegan Street Fair in LA
Mother Nature decided to visit this event in full force. She must be vegan and wanted to celebrate with us. Rain came and went with major downpours. That was so un-LA especially for March. Even more extreme than that, though, was the hail that then came down. The hail pellets were like lentils pouring from the skillet in the sky. Some people complained but some of us danced and sang in the rain and hail.
Why does the vegan world, though, seem to have so many negative people? Instead of appreciating the precipitation that LA so needed, some whined and complained about it. Some people therefore left, but no matter how many left that many more seemed to still come. The complainers were outnumbered by appreciators about 100:1.
Some people also complained about the crowds and some even bashed it online and were telling others not to go, but still the crowds came and came. Most of us really appreciated it.How amazing it was that about ten thousand people packed the streets for the first ever Vegan Street Fair especially in LA where people are usually afraid of precipitation of any kind.
Still, so many people packed the streets. Not everyone, though, who went was vegan. That was great because even non-vegans enjoyed the totally vegan foods and stuck it out through the crazy weather. They enjoyed tasting and learning about being vegan. The event was right by the Orange and Red Metros, and people heard and saw something going on and came to check it out. Also, some of the non-vegan restaurants brought in non-vegan customers to try their new vegan foods. According to Veg Kids, about half of the families who stopped in the Kids’ Area were not vegan. At least they were vegan open and vegan curious. They had plenty of opportunity to learn there. This was a great event because of the outreach and growing the vegan world. Since it was free to attend, plenty came.
Credit goes to Jessica Shay and Ken Schoech who dreamed up this amazing Vegan Street Fair (www.VeganStreetFair.com) and made it a reality. It took a lot of work to make this happen and they deserve a lot of credit. Credit also goes to Vegan Camp director Andy Mars (whose is entering his 23rd summer of vegan camps www.VeganCamp.org) and of Veg Kids (www.VegKids.org) who helped put the amazing Kids’ Area together.
It is hard to say whether the best part of the event was the crowd, the food, or the games. In the Kids’ Area, there were activities for kids who need to move, activities for kids who want to create, and activities for kids who like to think. The kids’ area had air hockey, animal origami, chalk-in, conscious coloring, cool comics, friend or food, giant twister, guessing jar, healthy info, hexagonal hockey, hopscotch, peace banner, tic tac toss, vegan jello, and word games.
Beyond that, the vendors included AFC Soy Foods, Azla Vegan, Beet x Beet, Best Gumbo in the Hood, Blöde Kuh Artisan Tree Nut Cheese, Bramble Bakeshop, Broke Hungry Vegan Catering, Charlie’s Brownies, Clean South, Divine Dips Vegan Ice Cream, Donut Friend, Doomie’s Home Cooking, Follow Your Heart, H.O.P.E.- Healthy Organic Positive Eating, Health ‘n Spice, Herbivore, Hugo’s Tacos, Hummus Republic, Ihsan’s Falafel, India Jones Chow Truck, Jones Soda, Joni Marie Newman, Just The Food, Karma Baker, Le Beaux Chocolats, Life is Sweet Bakeshop, Luscious Organic Desserts, Main Squeeze Lemonade Truck , Mud Hen Tavern, Om-Brosia, One Veg World, Organix, Plant Food For People, RawFiv5 Rachel’s Cosmic Cuisine, Rabbit Hole Cafe, Ridiculous Baking, Sage, Shugah Mama, Southern Fried Vegan, Sub Zero Ice Cream, Sun Cafe Organic, Vegan Pizza, Vegans Rock, VegeTaryn, Vegucated, Vromage, Whole Foods of Glendale.
Not all the vendors were vegan businesses but everything they had at this event had to be vegan. It was good for some people to see that they can get vegan food even at nonvegan places. It was also really good for the nonvegan places to see how many people want vegan food. Maybe some of them will expand their vegan menus. But some of the vegans attending only wanted to support the totally vegan places, and there was plenty there for them to enjoy. [www.veganday.com has the list and a map of the totally vegan places around LA.] We are pretty lucky to be vegans living in LA where being vegan sometimes seems so common and normal. It is the way the world should go and it is the way the world will go. Hey, we had close to ten thousand people packing the streets of The Vegan Street Fair to enjoy the variety of vegan foods!
Vegan Slider at Vegan Street Fair in LA
One of the things that made the Vegan Street Fair so great was that it was made like a real New York style street fair and the vendors were not allowed to charge more than $3 for any food item (but there were surcharges on buying tickets and that brought some food items to $4). That made it so that we could each try a bunch of different foods from different vendors. Smaller prices made it more affordable, and smaller portions made it more possible. But to quote my cousin Ben, I was “an eating machine.” I bought $32 in tickets (well, yah, it was a special one day event to splurge) and got to eat beefless skewers, chickun drum stix, a chocolate truffle, a corn dog, creme brulee, a donut, fried ravioli, a ham and cheese croissant, a pizza bagel, porridge, a slider, and smoky nut cheese. Some people complained about the lines, but I had no problem getting to eat from ten different vendors. Everything I had was really excellent except I felt I wasted money on a pizza bagel that I could have made better myself in the toaster oven at home. I had never had something like fried ravioli before and that was so good. The corn dog was totally amazing. The chickun drum stix were delicious. I am hungry now thinking about all of this. Pretty much everything was so good. I am sorry that I could not try every single food at the fair but I did my share.
Vegan corn dog at Vegan Street Fair in LA
And despite or maybe partially because of the rain and the hail it was such an exciting day. It was one of my favorite days ever. My favorite part was when Andy Mars started singing really loudly in the middle of the street to raise people’s spirits and get them to sing with him, “Let the Sun Shine In.” Someone’s grandmother even started dancing with him singing under the rain and hail. He brought sunshiney smiles to many peoples’ faces.
What an amazing first Vegan Street Fair it was. I don’t know if we can ever top it but we sure can try. I can’t wait until the second annual Vegan Street Fair.
by Marc Bernstein (age 11 – went vegan at age 8 due to his positive experience at and positive influence from Camp Exploration ) with assistance and editing by his cousin Ben (age 16) who prefers to remain relatively anonymous.