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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Vegfest focuses on sustainability, vegans in Tucson

    Jonathan Terry
    Toni Leo, owner of Sparky’s Cantina, stands at the window of her vegan food truck at VegFest on Sunday, April 25.

    Herds of people wearing patriotic vegan T-shirts were crowded in the center of a rustic plaza on Sunday, listening to a musician strum an acoustic guitar over the sporadic sounds of nearby passing trains.

    Sunday marked Tucson’s first Vegfest — an event focused on sustainability and veganism. The event was sponsored by Food in Root and featured food trucks, live music, guest speakers and cooking expeditions. The event was held at The Whistle Stop Depot and lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Their mission was simply to “make it easier to get information about the food you buy,” according to

    The family-friendly food event had everything from children’s activities, to local music, guest speakers and, of course, great food. All aspects of Vegfest revolved around a sustainable and healthy lifestyle through veganism.

    “It’s nice to see people eating healthy,” said Toni Leo of Sparky’s Cantina. Leo said that while she doesn’t open her vegan food truck to the streets, she makes a point to attend as many local health-food events as possible.

    Heather McClaren, was in line at Sparky’s Cantina for a second serving of Sparky’s Cantina’s delicious strawberry rhubarb bar. McClaren said she heard of the event through Facebook and was happy she chose to attend. In addition to the quality food, McClaren was most looking forward to the array of lectures focusing on social justice.

    Other food trucks, such as Veg in a Box, were a sight for sore eyes for local vegan street-food junkies. Veg in a Box features vegan street-food cuisine and can be found at various locations in the downtown area.

    Other vendors were oriented toward animal rights awareness, local farms and even vegan apparel — which was undoubtedly the source for at least a few of the patriotic vegan T-shirts spotted throughout the event.

    Lectures and cooking demos were held in several of the plaza’s indoor rooms, as well as outside on a main stage.

    Speakers included vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke, Milton Mills M.D., Sunizona Family Farms and many more. All speakers focused on themes relating to a clean, plant-based lifestyle and covered topics such as fitness, the positive effects of a plant-based diet and gardening.

    Cooking demos were held by some of Tucson’s most-loved vegan chefs and from restaurants including Urban Fresh and Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Those attending the demonstrations were able to witness firsthand the magical process of making vegan soups, hummus and stir fry.

    Other events within the plaza included a small fashion show, as well as coloring, snack making and gardening for children.

    Vendors and consumers alike are hoping to make Vegfest an annual event and, given this year’s substantial turnout, odds of it being around next year look promising. To find out about local food events focused on sustainability, check out Food In Root’s website.

    Follow Jonathan Terry on Twitter.

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