Vegan District At The Pike

Guests line up for vegan grub — from the likes of the popular Cena Vegan — earlier this year at the first monthly Vegan District at the Pike, which is also organized by partners Kawani Brown and Edward Yniguez.

It's the largest annual get together of meatless food vendors in Long Beach, and the event is bigger than its ever been.

That would be the Long Beach Vegan Fest, and it's happening this Saturday at The Pike Outlets.

"We have more vegans now, or at least people who are curious and willing to try vegan food," Kawani Brown, organizer and cofounder of the event, said. "It seems like it's becoming more common these days, if you say the word 'vegan,' people know what it is now, and they embrace it."

Brown, along with her husband Edward Yniguez, debuted the Vegan Fest four years ago, in 2016. The event was smaller and took place at Rainbow Lagoon Park.

Now, the event has moved to The Pike Outlets — also where the monthly Vegan District takes place — to allow more room for events and activities like live music and cruelty-free shopping (meaning goods that use no animal products, like vegan leather textiles in place of regular leather).

And with more than 100 vendors, Brown said that it's easier than ever to find something delicious to chow down on, even for non vegans.

"The event keeps getting bigger every year," she said. "We've had to find a larger area to host this every year, so that means even more good stuff for everyone." 

That means smoothies and acai bowls, as well as nachos, burgers and fries.

Vegan Fest Food Truck 2018

The Original Herbivore food truck from San Diego was at a previous Long Beach Vegan Festival, which took place at the Long Beach State Walter Pyramid.

There's more entertainment on the schedule too, with a stage on Bay Street and a Main Stage on the green in front of the ferris wheel. Artists include Long Beach's folk rock artist Brandi Alexander, environmentally focused rock band Slushbox and DJ Senay Kenfe.

One other change this year is that there is no entry fee, allowing people to check out the venue and purchase something if they want, or leave if they don't. But there are VIP tickets available for $55 each. That includes a swag bag, drink ticket and access to shaded VIP areas to escape the summer heat.

Finally, in hopes of reducing single use drinking cup waste, all guests will receive a free aluminum bottle to use for drinks. The bottles are available at designated hydration stations and can be recycled or reused.

Brown added that she's proud to be a part of a growing movement that promotes vegan living, but welcomes everyone regardless of their vegan, or lack of vegan, lifestyles.

"Before, it (veganism) was an oddity," Brown said. "Now you go to a restaurant and its normal to see vegan options on the menu, or to see vegan leather items in stores, or to be non-vegan, but to order a vegan dish, and that's a really good thing."

The Long Beach Vegan Fest is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at The Pike Outlets, 95 S. Pine Ave. The event is free to attend.

For more information, and to view a full list of vendors, go to lbveganfest.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com

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