Pittsburgh VegFest 2016

Published On May 27, 2016 | By Cassie Majewski | Community

After a successful first year, VegFest is back again to bring a free day of animal appreciation to Pittsburgh’s North Side.

The annual outdoor food festival was designed to bring our community together while broadening compassion for animals and sustainable lifestyles.

People of all ages are invited to enjoy Pittsburgh’s best vegan and vegetarian foods, art and vendors, while listening to live music and various guest speakers.

The festival will take place July 30 at Allegheny Commons Park East from 11AM-5PM.

vf1VegFest was born from locals Leila Sleiman and Natalie Fristick, who also founded the non-profit, Justice for Animals (JFA)—a Pennsylvania-based organization dedicated to organizing efforts for animal justice.

Along with VegFest, JFA is currently working to pass the exotic animals ordinance to end circus cruelty, orchestrate wildlife cleanups, and grow the Meatless Monday initiative as well as citywide spay-and-neuter programs. The ladies were also responsible for hosting last fall’s VegFeast–Pittsburgh’s first vegan Thanksgiving celebration.

Now into its second year, Sleiman and Fristick are ready to beat the nearly 5,000-guest attendance from last summer; and they’re packing the day full of even more amazing, animal-friendly entertainment.

We spoke with Sleiman recently, who shared a few details on new additions for VegFest 2016:

“The most notable change is a full music lineup and a big stage. We rented a professional stage, sound equipment, etc. for this year’s music festival installment … And then we added a green spin, too. We’ve noticed many residents are becoming more environmentally conscious, or adapting to green living, so this year’s festival will combine elements of that, as well.”

Live performances will come from The Beagle Brothers, Anti-Flag Acoustic, Fire Safe Cigarettes, Endless Mike, and more. There will also be speakers from The Humane League and 412 Food Rescue, along with a nutritionist, lifestyle coach and wildlife speaker.

Older festival-goers can engage with the cause through yoga classes and cooking demos, while younger kids can enjoy a bouncy castle, face painting, coloring and crafts. Additionally, a raffle will be held with prizes awarded throughout the day.

And, of course, we can’t forget about the food! Some of Pittsburgh’s best veg restaurants–including Franktuary, Onion Maiden, Chip & Kale, and Gluten Free Goat–will be serving their finest foods alongside vendors like The Happy Vegan, Sweat and Butter, and Vegan and Beyond.

In addition to shopping, food and music, Sleiman shared she’s looking forward to this year’s various guest speakers, including keynote speaker Jon Camp from Philadelphia’s Humane League, a top-ranking, national animal welfare organization.

“[Jon] will talk and host an audience Q&A session after … He used to work for an organization called Vegan Outreach, and is very knowledgeable on veganism, on lifestyle, on problems, on issues, on how can you transition … Some people maybe don’t want to transition to a full vegan diet, but they want to make some lifestyle changes that can help them…”

Whether you’re familiar with animal rights activism, love healthy foods, or just enjoy hanging out with furry friends, there’s something for everyone at this year’s edition of VegFest.

Be sure to arrive early–the first 250 guests in attendance will receive goodie bags with tons of freebies and coupons!

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