VegFest for All
In the past few years, VegFest has worked to make the festival accessible to people of all abilities
By Elizabeth Zanmiller
Veganism has grown exponentially in the past few years, with thousands of people making the switch each year. Often, an argument arises that veganism is not accessible. In some ways, this is true. Veganism can be difficult for those living in food deserts or with little money. But VegFest, a vegan festival held in the Twin Cities every year, is starting to change the narrative around accessibility and veganism. I first attended in 2014 when it was held in TCF Bank Stadium, which was tight and non wheelchair accessible. It was extremely crowded and hard to get around with an abled body, let alone for someone in a wheelchair. The stadium was loud and could easily be overwhelming for someone with sensory issues. Veganism is hard to do, and events organized like this only make the switch look less appealing.
Five years later, the coordinator, Compassion for Animals, has made huge strides towards making their festival accessible, starting with a better venue, Harriet Island. The number of vendors was huge, and foods from mac and cheese to ice cream were available, showing people that their favorite foods could be vegan. More importantly, people with both mental and physical limitations got a much warmer welcome than in 2014. Sign language interpreters were available at the demos, and there was a quiet area for those with sensory issues. Areas for service dogs to rest, a private breastfeeding area, and wheelchair ramps were also provided. Volunteers were readily available to wait in lines for those unable to spend long amounts of time standing. On VegFest’s website, they note that accessibility is prioritized, and this was proven to be true. As more people are able to attend and be comfortable at these events and therefore be exposed to veganism, the movement will grow stronger. I applaud VegFest for working hard to expose people of all backgrounds to veganism.