VegFest Oahu Strengthens Hawaii’s Plant-Based Community

Positive Media Hawaii is proud to be one of the sponsors of  VegFest Oahu 2016, which was successful beyond expectations.  Held on the grounds of the Mayor’s office in one of downtown Honolulu’s most beautiful spots, the festival was packed with people (from a wide variety of ages and ethnicities) from beginning to end.  The Mayor’s staff called it “unprecedented attendance for a first-year event.”  They estimate more than 3500 people came to celebrate, learn, and taste how good vegan living can be from the 40+ booths encircling the grassy lawn with abundant shade trees.

“This huge attendance proves the growing openness here in Hawaii towards vegan values and sustainable solutions,” says Joy Waters, VegFest Oahu Producer.  “We want VegFest Oahu events to be the tipping point towards more plant-based island culture.”

VegFest Oahu was a grassroots effort organized by an all-volunteer team of local island leaders in the plant-based and environmental movements and sponsored by a coalition of organizations that support a healthier Hawaii (complete list of sponsors here).  VegFest Oahu’s mission was to give the public a fun-filled opportunity to to learn about the many benefits of choosing vegan foods and lifestyle to improve health, contribute to solutions for climate change and encourage compassion for animal welfare.

The Inspirational Speaker Series Tent presented five dynamic talks from authorities in health, sustainability and animal compassion.  Every seat in the audience was filled and the talks sparked lively Q&A sessions.

The Learning Kitchen Tent was standing room only as festival attendees watched four expert chefs demonstrate how to make vegan dishes.  After the cooking demo the audience was treated to a generous sample of the dish. Cook demo videos coming soon, in the meantime watch Facebook Live video clips here.

The Free Samples Tent passed out hundreds of mini-sandwiches made from donated products from vegan food companies.  Most of the attendees crowding around the tent had never tried vegan “meats” and “cheese” before and they were clearly delighted. See the recipes and watch a video clip here.

Many of the food vendors sold out and sent urgent messages to their restaurants for more supplies, then sold out again as the number of festival goers swelled throughout the afternoon with island residents curious about vegan cuisine.  VegFest Oahu food vendors provided a variety of types of food that demonstrated the diversity of vegan dining. Highlights included: Indian curries, Hawaii local favorites veganized (watch a short video of a vendor cooking Tempeh Katsu), unique falafel bar with Moroccan and Mexican sauces, gourmet Sliders with three different flavors, Ceasar salad, dairy-free gelato, brownies and even fresh cut coconuts.  Local food entrepreneurs offered their island made products such as: fresh lemonade made with tropical fruits, cultured Macadamia Nut cheeses, salads made with polynesian produce such as ‘ulu potato salad and taro dips.

A main theme at the festival was to present sustainability and lowering your carbon footprint as core reasons to choose more vegan options.  The festival Press Release proclaimed “VegFest Oahu provides solutions to Health Care Crisis and Climate Change” and included a Fact Sheet for reporters. The headlining speaker was co-Director of the documentary Cowspiracy, whose talk clearly made the connection between animal agriculture and climate change.  Event organizers got funds from The Pollination Project to produce 20 huge Infographics banners hung between tents showing statistics about the planetary costs of factory farming.  People lingered in front of the 3 feet by 3 feet Infographics Banners as the walked through the festival. The emphasis on sustainability was further evidenced by having a Greening Coordinator, Doorae Shin, who developed a Zero Waste Trash-Plan which included providing a Water Refill Station offering free filtered water for those with reusable containers.  This eliminated the need for thousands of plastic water bottles.  All vendors were required not to bring single-use plastics to VegFest Oahu and all food was served in 100% compostable containers.

The Free Literature Tent offered stacks of pamphlets, magazines, free recipes, vegan starter kits, etc.  Every single piece of paper was taken by the end of the day by eager people who wanted to learn more. The House of Truth set up multiple laptops creating a pay-per-view station offering to pay $1 to people willing to watch a 4 minute video about where meat comes from. Hundreds of people watched throughout the day, including entire families together, and most of them donated the dollar to Animal Rights Hawaii.

VegFest Oahu’s Festival Director, Michael Wall, explained two important goals of the event:  “We want to show how vegetarian food is nutritious, yummy, and easy to prepare. This festival is a way to meet caring folks who are passionate about making a better world and get to know them in a casual, friendly environment.”

Honolulu Mayor, Kirk Caldwell, made an appearance and spent a few minutes on stage declaring the importance of having healthy events like VegFest Oahu for the local community (video of his remarks coming soon!)  At the conclusion of the event, Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard presented a framed Certificate of Honor to VegFest Oahu Producer, Joy Waters, congratulating her on her community efforts. Watch video of the presentation and read the Certificate text here.

Festival attendees had lots of opportunities to integrate the message of wellness directly into the body. The Movement Morsels Tent gave 20 minute mini-classes all day long in dance, yoga, hula and more.  There was a Silent Disco giving out headsets and holding space for a free dance party jam.  There was a Gong Meditation tent with people stretched out on mats absorbing the sound vibration healing. Vendors offered naturopath, massage, and color acupuncture.

From the sacred opening blessing of hula and chant until the ending dance party, the talented stage performers provided the perfect soundtrack of peace and love music throughout the gorgeous Saturday afternoon under the trees.

Thank you to the photographers who contributed their wonderful pics to VegFest Oahu: Jon Tsujimura, Rex Jakobovits, Frank Santana, Kelli Soileau, Frando DeDrace Ryu, Carlos Garcia, Erin Closmore, Mike Kickler, Davey Kay. (Please let us know if we’ve missed your name).

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