Worcester VegFest returns to the DCU Center

Circle April 6 on your calendar. Worcester VegFest, a free festival organized entirely by volunteers, will celebrate all things vegetarian at the DCU Center. Its organizers describe the Worcester VegFest as “a free festival that brings the local community together to celebrate vegetarianism: an animal-friendly, environmentally sustainable and healthy lifestyle.”

While I’m not vegetarian, I am someone who has been pleasantly surprised by our city’s commitment to community building and its collective promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Local farming initiatives like YouthGROW Farms, the increasing number of juice bars and healthy restaurants and the growing popularity of exercise groups all point to a city moving in the right direction. Worcester VegFest 2014 will stoke this trend’s flames.

The festival has received acclaim from community organizers. Tina Zlody, co-founder of stART on the Street, said, “Worcester VegFest is one of the best events in the city! It combines education about compassionate practices, along with wonderful vendors who promote animal welfare, vegetarian and vegan living in a festive and warm environment. And the food is great, too!”

VegWorcester, the self-proclaimed “voice of the vegetarian community in Worcester” organizes VegFest, and it has attracted an ever-soaring number of festival-goers since the inaugural festival in 2010. There were 6,000 attendees in 2013 (72 percent of whom were first-timers), and with DCU as this year’s venue, that number will undoubtedly climb. Numerous vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Worcester ~ including Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant, Loving Hut, EVO and Bollywood Grille, among others ~ will participate in the festival.

The popularity of VegFest has also gained more national fame. Jon Camp, an animal rights activist and founder of the renowned Vegan Outreach organization has praised the festival. “As someone who has spoken at and attended many vegetarian festivals throughout the United States, I’ve come to see the Worcester VegFest as one of the best in the country. … The festival is always so well-attended, well-organized, and it teems with high-quality vendors and speakers.” Past speakers include Rich Roll, a vegan ultra-marathoner; Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutritionist and author of The China Study; and Terry Hope Romero, vegan chef and author of Viva Vegan and Veganomicon. One thing remains clear: These speakers do not disappoint.

Worcester VegFest strives to emphasize the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet while also attempting to shine light on the lifestyle ~ which is what these diets truly are ~ in an attempt to bring it into the mainstream. As Erik Marcus, who runs Vegan.com, said, “[I am] constantly impressed by how VegWorcester attracts media coverage that positions vegans as being cool and mainstream.”

Come down to the DCU Center from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 6, to support this cool community! For more information, visit worcestervegfest.com.

By Benjamin McNeil