By Kenia Marrufo
Falafel meatless tacos, enriched spicy buffalo cauliflower wings and dairy-free treats had a surprisingly delicious taste at the first ever Inland Empire Vegan Festival.
Over 1,000 guests attended the event at the Rancho Cucamonga Epicenter Stadium on March 30.
Over 40 volunteers and 100 vendors came together to show the Inland area the truth behind the progressive vegan lifestyle.
Kwani Brown first started to organize food festivals in Long Beach alongside her husband Edward to show everyone how healthy and tasty cruelty-free food actually is.
“This is our second home,” Brown said. “We’ve been seeing veganism grow here and we wanted something here as well. It’s going to open people’s minds more and the people here who have already been curious, now they have somewhere to fuel that, learn that and cultivate it.”
Due to the massive amounts of fast food chains around the Inland area highways, many locals haven’t had their palettes expanded. Attendees tried new varieties of food they had never experienced before.
“I think people who have more ideas of food (should) not be afraid to get the license and just pop-up and then collab with other poppers. When you pop-up the vegans come” animal-rights activist Paige Parson Roache said.
The festival also held both a fitness and activist panel to provide information for the attendees about the health benefits of having a plant-based diet and how it reduces climate change.
Many highly known vegan brands attended the event such as GT’s Kombucha, Orgain Protein and Califia Farms. Small starter pop-up vendors like Mama Chingona Vegana were there to support more animal-free restaurants to open.
“Just cut it raw, go plant-based it’s good for your health, animals and the environment.” Amber Rose Martinez, owner of Mama Chingona said.
An activist from the Animal Alliance network, Eder Lopez, 33, started his activism when he started to protest and hold pig vigils at the Farmer John’s company in Vernon and hopes others will be inspired to be as involved as he is.
“I have traveled the world doing activism. I just literally want to help change the world as fast as possible and the way I do that is by being active and doing stuff about it.”
For many attendees this was their first vegan festival and a life changing event.
“I hope the IE brings more events like these,” first time attendee, Veronica Arriaga said. “It helps me and my family understand more about our health in the long-run.”
For more information on future events go to ieveganfest.com.