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Vegan festival at fairgrounds aims to enlighten, educate

Sarah Funk, left shares some of her berry vanilla, chocolate-salted-caramel, chai-latte cupcakes wit
Sarah Funk, left, shares berry vanilla, chocolate-salted-caramel, chai-latte cupcakes with her mom, Mary, during the 2016 So Cal VegFest in Costa Mesa.
(Photo by Susan Hoffman)

Vegan food, desserts and products will take center stage Oct. 20 to 21 at the fourth annual SoCal VegFest in Costa Mesa.

The OC Fair and Event Center festival will offer free food samples, entrees and drinks for purchase, as well as cruelty-free products, such as toothpaste and perfume.

Also planned are appearances by celebrity chefs and guest speakers. There will be food demonstrations, a children’s area and live music.

VegFest began as a farmers market at Orange Coast College, but event director Maryam Mirshafiee-Arjona said the gathering was moved to the fairgrounds in hopes of reaching a wider audience, including non-vegans.


Vegetarians don’t eat meat but vegans omit all animal products, including eggs and dairy, from their diets. All vendors will provide food samples free of animal ingredients.

Guest speakers include cardiologist Columbus D. Batiste, family physician Joel Fuhrman and Olympic silver medalist Dotsie Bausch.

Mirshafiee-Arjona, who has been vegan for six years, said past attendees have told her that some of the guest speakers resonated with them so much that they transitioned to a plant-based diet.

“Knowledge is power,” Mirshafiee-Arjona said. “We have to give people enough resources so they can choose for themselves what they want to do.”


About 20,000 to 25,000 people are expected over the weekend.

VIP tickets include free, sample-sized alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.

Attendees can register online to participate in the Oct. 20 vegan cupcake competition. Winners will receive ribbons and gift bags.

SoCal VegFest is another way to introduce the benefits of a healthy and compassionate lifestyle that is also good for the planet, Mirshafiee-Arjona said.

“It’s time to change the world,” she said. “This is bigger than anyone one person or animal. The health of our future depends on it.”


What: SoCal VegFest

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 20 and 21

Where: OC Fair and Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa


Tickets: Single day passes start at $5 and go up to $50 for weekend VIP passes. Kids 12 and under, as well as senior 65 and older, are free.


Twitter: @vegapriscella