HI on Veggies

Courtesy VegFest Oahu

VegFest O‘ahu advocates plant-based diet

When the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ranked Honolulu #7 among the top-10 friendliest-vegan cities across the nation, Joy Waters knew it was the right time to introduce her plant-based-diet philosophy to the mainstream.

“For all the SPAM that we consume in Hawai‘i, I was shocked,” says Waters, VegFest O‘ahu producer and a self-described community activist. “So I thought the least we could do was have a VegFest that would showcase how little changes in our diets could make a positive impact on our wellness and our environment.”

Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Frank Fasi Civic Grounds near Honolulu Hale, from noon to 5:30 p.m., VegFest will feature food booths, cooking demonstrations, a Speaker Series, Literature Tent and plenty of free plant-based food samples. The event also aims to dispel some misperceptions about plant-based diets, namely that they are expensive, bland and lacking protein.

“These are myths that we always come up against,” Waters says. “I consider myself a junk food vegan in the sense that I can fry, sauté, grill and prepare my food in the same way that someone would prepare meat, and I can have mayo but it’s a vegetarian mayo prepared with grapeseed oil. The food industry has grown considerably over the years and there are now many alternatives for meats and cheeses. And you’re still getting your flavor and all your protein.”

VegFest O‘ahu’s director Michael Wall believes it’s important for people to know there are dietary choices that help the environment while simultaneously improving one’s health.

“I’m forever optimistic that if people know that they have better and healthier options, they would accept them,” says Wall, who is tasked with the day’s entertainment lineup. “We had a huge turnout last year and it definitely exceeded our expectations. So it was super gratifying to see the number of people who were interested in plant-based diets.”

“Plant-based diets was one of the hottest food trends in 2016-2017,” Waters adds. “And I think we saw that at the inaugural VegFest where we had 4,000 people, an unprecedented attendance, we were told, for a first-year event.”

For more information, visit positivemediahawaii.com.

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