The second annual Central Coast VegFest took place Feb 23, an all-vegan event consisting of over 50 different vendors and speakers.
The event had food options such as vegan cheese, vegan milkshakes and even vegan bacon crisps. The festival also had apparel and nonprofit booths, where attendees could grab merchandise from the event and talk to nonprofits, such as the Central Coast Vegans.
Over the years, there has been a rising trend of veganism and vegetarianism. According to GlobalData, 70 percent of the human population is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.
“There are so many reason people go vegan, it really is a miracle on some level,” said event organizer Jennifer Jones. “Our entire culture is not that. No one I know is born vegan, but to make that shift it really is almost a 180 degree from the standard American way of living.”
Philosophy professor Joe Lynch was one of the speakers at the Veg Fest and believes people should go vegan for both the environment and for animals.
“I think for most people, the best evidence shows you can be at least as healthy on a vegan diet as on a diet where people eat meat,” Lynch said.
Although veganism is on the rise, it is not a new trend. Donald Watson coined the term vegan in 1944 when he cofounded the first Vegan Society in England, according to Time Magazine. Tuberculosis had been found in 40 percent of Britain’s dairy cows the year before, and because of this Watson claimed that going vegan would protect people from getting sick.
Veganism has, however, become more prominent in the American culture, as well as in the Central Coast, according to Vegan Bits. Jones said she created the Veg Fest for vegans in San Luis Obispo to have a place to meet other like-minded vegans, get health tips, and learn from speakers.
“There are a lot of committed vegans in the world who feel very passionately about being vegan and want to tell the world,” Jones said. “The Veg Fest to me was this very fun way to help spread veganism.”
According to The New York Times, an estimated 12 percent of millennials say they are “faithful vegetarians” as compared to 4 percent of Generations X, and about 1 percent of baby boomers. This is a large reason why consumers are seeing more vegan and gluten-free options at restaurants, and why the meat industry is declining.
Biology senior Alana Billik has been vegan for two years, and loved how many different food options were available at the Veg Fest.
“There are so many good food options if you are vegan that I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything by not eating meat, and this festival really showed me all the different foods you can eat while still being a vegan.” Bilik said.
Valerie Gasparini and Laura Cassin also contributed to this story.