Sixth annual VegFest returns to Tallahassee

The VegFest welcome sign. Photo by Noella Williams

The Tallahassee vegan and vegetarian community flocked to the sixth annual North Florida VegFest on Saturday at Tom Brown Park.

Vegans, vegetarians and those without a specific plant-based diet filled the dog-friendly event at a high capacity during the festival that focuses on sustainability, plant-based goods, and health. VegFest also featured free beginner yoga classes, live music, vegan food samples and cooking tutorials.

Natt Elsamra is an organizer for the North Florida VegFest, which strived to involve local businesses in the event for this year.

“Basically, we try to get as many local businesses in town that have vegetarian or vegan options, and they can just showcase them here. We also try to reach out to any surrounding areas, so most of our vendors are from Florida, like the vegan seafood or Ethiopian food,” Elsamra said.

Throughout the park, the event was split into two sections for appetizing food trucks and their variety of vendors. The vendor list included familiar businesses, like Greenwise, Native Nurseries and Farm to Fork Meals. Interactive experiences for attendees were also available, such as Namaste Yoga hosting four live yoga classes for beginners.

Personal chef Jarvis Williams attended the festival to explore their food options and natural health products, even though she isn’t vegan or vegetarian.

“Throughout my week, I do not always consume meat. Meatless Mondays are a thing, or sometimes it lasts a whole week,” Williams said.

On the opposite side of the venue, the food trucks encompassed a majority of the park while live music played in the background. The food options were all plant-based, with menus featuring vegan seafood, soul food, desserts, Ethiopian cuisine, and even a food truck that specializes in plant-based tater tots.

Hunter Van Skyock, a Florida State University student and president of the university’s Ethical Vegan Association, is the co-owner of Sungrown Bakery, a locally owned bakery.

“We picked flavors that people have loved over and over again. We want a variety of items that really speak to everyone’s taste buds, so that meant a lot of chocolate, but also cinnamon, and for the first time ever today, strawberries in our ‘Strawberry Treats Forever’ cupcake. It’s all about providing balance and variety for our sunflowers,” Skyock said.

The appeal of Sungrown Bakery doesn’t solely stem from their vegan desserts. Their products also happen to be infused with CBD oils.

“We also had about 75 percent of our food infused with CBD, because the benefits of this ingredient are becoming widely known, and we want to ease human anxiety all while reducing the Earth’s carbon footprint,” Skyock added.

The annual food festival will return to Tallahassee next spring, but until then, local restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options — like Soul Vegetarian, Sweet Pea Cafe, The Bark and more — can be found via the Happy Cow app.