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The seventh annual Texas Veggie Fair takes place October 22 at Reverchon Park to share plant-based food and fun with veggie lovers. All products featured at the event are vegan; meaning no meat, dairy, eggs or other animal products or byproducts are used in the making, baking, cooking or brewing processes. Founder Jamey Scott, who has been vegan for more than 10 years, wanted to organize a celebration that caters to those that follow or are interested in a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. “Fall is a time of many festivals and events, but often there are little to no plant-based options,” says Scott, “I wanted to create a gathering that has all the fair favorites, like vegan corn dogs and funnel cakes, in addition to healthier options.”

There are three main reasons why someone may choose to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet. The first is ethics; many feel a moral obligation to boycott industries that mistreat cows, pigs, chickens, fish and other animals, and instead opt for foods that are cruelty-free. Another crucial reason people make the switch is for their health, because studies have shown that eating animal proteins and fats may increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer and disease. Also, many people give up meat for environmental reasons in light of the fact animal agriculture accounts for more than 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Health, animal rights and environmental organizations will be present to discuss these topics and more in depth.

In addition to sampling and meals of delicious vegan ethnic cuisine, soul food, smoothies, veggie burgers, desserts and more, great emphasis is placed on education and outreach. “One of the goals is that we want to appeal to people who are interested in learning more,” says Scott, “Maybe someone already does a Meatless Monday, but wants to go to the next level. We have several resources that are geared around education.”

Cooking demonstrations and workshops are scheduled throughout the day in English and Spanish. “Bone Breaker Mike,” a vegan arm wrestler and owner of a gym in Austin, will share the story of how a vegan lifestyle helped him overcome chronic health issues. A panel of speakers from the vegan fashion industry will explain how animals are used in making garments and ways using plant-based materials instead can be more sustainable for the planet.

The first Texas Veggie Fair back in 2010 accommodated 700 people and attendance has grown to more than 10,000. “For our attendees, it is a celebration of their lifestyle and a way to join together with people who have similar beliefs, all within a fun festival-type environment,” says Scott. There are attractions for all ages, and companion animals are welcome. Activities and amenities include yoga, musical performances, face painting, story time, bounce houses and a beer garden featuring vegan beers and gluten-free ciders.

Highlights include national vegan food product vendors such as Daiya and Follow Your Heart, cruelty-free makeup, supplements, clothing, accessories, candles, soaps and much more. “The Texas Veggie Fair is all about inclusiveness and openness,” says Scott. “We want to ensure that a range of people coming with different perspectives can take part in the celebration.”

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