Asheville VeganFest 2016 expands to two-day event

COMPASSIONATE COOKING: Smiling Hara Tempeh co-owner Sarah Yancey fries up some of her product at last year's VeganFest. This year's festival stretches over two days and will feature more than 100 vendors along with panel discussions and educational workshops. Photo courtesy of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue

Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or carnivore, Asheville VeganFest, organized by Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, offers plenty for everyone. Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, VeganFest will celebrate compassionate living with a goal of inspiring those who consume animal-sourced food to give the vegan lifestyle a try.

This is the second year for the festival, which serves as a fundraiser for the new Brother Wolf Animal Sanctuary.

“We hope that folks who eat a meat diet will come out to Asheville VeganFest to learn about why a vegan lifestyle is important to Brother Wolf and also to taste all the amazing food our vendors will have,” says Leah Craig Fieser, Brother Wolf’s events director. “The aim is to show people how delicious and easy a vegan diet is in our modern world and what impactful, positive changes a vegan diet can bring about.”

The inaugural VeganFest was a half-day event, but this year’s festival has expanded into a full weekend of events that kick off Friday evening with a party at downtown vegan bar THE BLOCK off biltmore.

“It was so popular last year. There were people from out of town that wanted to spend the whole weekend doing something of this nature,” says Denise Bitz, founder of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. “We want to show that vegan tourism is a viable thing.”

On Saturday, June 11, VeganFest will offer a welcome reception followed by a whole day of panel discussions at the YMI Cultural Center.  Speakers from across the U.S. will present on topics ranging from the positive effects of a vegan lifestyle on health, fitness and well-being to the impact of veganism on saving animals’ lives to the connection between spirituality and plant-based eating.

On Sunday, VeganFest moves to Pack Square Park where more than 100 vendors will be on site serving vegan fare, local beer and showcasing vegan lifestyle products. The list of vendors includes well-known local businesses such as French Broad Chocolates, Farm To Fender, Nectar, Sanctuary Brewing Co. and Highland Brewing Co. among many others.

Food and drinks will be for sale, and free refreshments and samples will also be available. There will also be music and educational presentations.

Fieser is clear that VeganFest does not seek to convert anyone to a completely vegan lifestyle, but emphasizes that every step a person takes toward cutting out animal-sourced food is a step in the right direction.

“We want folks to know that every little bit helps; maybe they are interested in going meat-free for one day a week, maybe they want to cut down on the amount of butter and cheese they consume, perhaps they are looking to eat a healthier, plant-based, whole foods diet, or maybe they’d like to check out some meat alternatives,” Fieser says.

Asheville VeganFest takes place Saturday, June 11, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m at the YMI Cultural Center, 39 S. Market St., and Sunday, June 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Pack Square Park, 212 College St. The Asheville VeganFest kickoff party will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, at THE BLOCK off biltmore, 39 S. Market St. All events are free and open to the public.



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About John Mallow
John Mallow is a senior mass communication student and Editor-in-chief of The Blue Banner at UNC Asheville. He enjoys running, mountain biking, ska and punk music, pizza and beer. He also wrote this bio himself, in the third person. Follow me @jmallowjr

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