Southern Californians who missed the highly anticipated Vegan Street Fair Nights (September 1st and 2nd) have a second opportunity to celebrate all things plant-based as summer winds to a close.
On Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17, U.S. Veg Corp returns to L.A. to host a weekend’s worth of vegan food, speakers, and live entertainment. U.S. Veg Corp founders, Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda, emphasized that this is more than just a food festival. We sat down with them to discover what makes this event unique, and what attendees can expect.
First, a bit of history. Gross and Paliwoda are a transcontinental team. Gross, a New Yorker, lends her expertise through her work in the non-profit and vegan food space as the founder of Rescue Chocolate, a vegan chocolate company that donates 100% of its profits to animal rescue organizations in the United States. Paliwoda, an Angeleno, offers experience in the event planning and management field through her work with Two Shes Productions, LLC, her event and marketing business. The two met at a charity event almost a decade ago and created U.S. Veg Corp with a mission to unite, support, and promote the plant-based and environmentally conscious communities. The organization accomplishes this goal by hosting events centered around plant-based food and education. The inaugural New York City Vegetarian Festival launched seven years ago, and the team has since expanded its annual events to Arizona and Los Angeles.
One fact Gross and Paliwoda want to make clear: you do not have to be a vegetarian or vegan to attend one of their events. They strive for inclusivity. “Our events are for everybody,” Paliwoda explained. “Its all about education; there’s no shaming.” A “flexitarian” herself, Paliwoda said they want to encourage the veg-curious to see what they have to offer.
Gross, a vegan for the past eighteen years, echoed the sentiment. “Our goal is to make plant-based living fun, easy, and community-oriented. We don’t use the word ‘vegan’ because of the preconceived notions of the word. We design our events to appeal to the largest possible audience through delicious food, speakers, exciting activities, and music. The goal is ultimately to help people reduce their reliance on animal products.”
Like many events, there is a cost to attend the festival; however, Gross and Paliwoda are determined to provide the ultimate value to satisfy the ticket price. The one day $20 General Admission ticket will grant full access to the festival, speakers, cooking demos, fitness classes, children’s activities, and vendors. Food will be for purchase, but there will also be a variety of free samples for festival-goers to nibble on and sip. For the ultimate plant-based experience, the $75 VIP ticket tacks on a goody bag, preferred speaker/demo seating, express entrance, and a festival t-shirt for both days.
The two have curated an impressive and exiting line up of speakers and entertainment. Paliowda is especially looking forward to the cocktail demonstrations by the prestigious Los Angeles-based Cocktail Academy. They’ll be shaking up organic juice-centered adult beverages all weekend long. Nutrition junkies should bookmark Juliana Heaver’s talks (both days), while athletes will find appeal with speaker and influencer, John Lewis. In between presentations, participants can learn from the various cooking demos from celebrated chefs such as The Naked Chef, Ravana, Ted Lai, and Sweet Potato Soul.
Although not the only draw, there is no denying that outstanding food is the key to a successful plant-based event. Gross and Paliwoda have this covered with a plethora of mouth-watering vendors, such as Cena Vegan, Scandylous Delights, Punk Rawk Labs, Vegan Dots, and Word of Mouth Truck. As part of the goal of the event is to support vegan businesses, the team is focused on establishing relationships and featuring the best Los Angeles has to offer.
“We love working with mom and pops and their new products,” Paliwoda gushed. “Every time we do an event, there will always be something new and interesting that no one has ever seen before.” Further, the event will include a few non-vegan vendors that will veganize their menus for the event. The hope is to demonstrate the demand for more vegan items and encourage these companies to offer more plant-based options on their regular menus.
Finally, the founders established a partnership with Best Friends Animal Society to add a charitable element to the event. Best Friends will host onsite adoptions at the festival to connect homeless pets with a forever home. And Best Friends will receive 100% of the proceeds from the raffle contest.
Vegans, omnivores, and health junkies alike can all find something to fit their interests at the California Vegetarian Food Festival. Purchase your tickets, delight in some plant-based eats, dance to some great music, and perhaps learn something new.
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