When I first went vegan, I felt like a lonely soul on a deserted island. Finding fellow veegs who shared my plant-based values and passion for animals was hard. But that all changed when I discovered vegan events where I could connect and schmooze with other like-minded veggie lovers.
Vegan festivals, camps, and beyond are popping up all around the world, and attending these vegan events is my favorite way to get to know other vegans. Here are just a few of the events to look out for in the United States.
Veg Fests are family oriented festivals that typically last one to two days, depending on where they are held. The programming varies depending on the city, but they typically include music, entertainment, food, and booths with vendors selling vegan products. Speakers, author presentations, and kid areas are also a common part of the fun. The laid-back, celebratory vibe at these fests make them perfect opportunities to make new friends and celebrate a shared vegan lifestyle. Below are just a few of the many Veg Fests that take place every year across the country.
Los Angeles, California (June) and Portland, Oregon (June)
This super-popular event provides a great opportunity to experience the best in local vegan food and beer, and it gets bigger and better every year. It attracts plant-powered folks of all ages and is family friendly. This is a great place to meet other foodies as well as beer (and kombucha) enthusiasts while enjoying a taste of local vegan eateries.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania (July)
This leading public conference teaches about the benefits of a plant based lifestyle. Listen to dozens of renowned speakers, learn the basics of vegan nutrition, take cooking classes, begin a fitness regimen, or engage in animal rights activism. At the end of this conference, you will definitely have made new friends.
Seed Food and Wine is not just a festival, but a movement! This week-long celebration of ideas, food, and people dedicated to plant-based living includes speakers, panels, workshops, a fashion show, burger battle, a tasting village, parties and a 5K. This is a vegan extravaganza like no other. Among all of the festivities, you are sure to meet many new friends.
Alternates between Los Angeles, California, and Alexandria, Virginia every summer.
Founded in 1981, The Animal Rights National Conference is the world’s largest and longest-running animal advocacy conference. Every year this conference alternates between the East Coast and West Coast. It takes place in a conference hotel, and lasts several days. There are more than a hundred speakers and a large open venue filled with booths featuring animal rights organizations, shops, vegan food vendors, and beyond. This event is special because it welcomes all points of view on achieving animal liberation.
San Francisco, California (October)
For over 18 years, World Veg Festival has brought together vegetarians and vegans to celebrate World Veg Day. With an exciting day full of nutrition experts, motivating speakers, cooking demos, and great veg products, this is plant-based fun for everyone! Come to this educational and inspiring event to join others committed to a plant-based lifestyle and celebrate the joy of healthy, ethic, and sustainable living.
Acton, California (November) and Watkins Glen, New York (November)
Each November, Farm Sanctuary gives thanks to its supporters and the amazing animals in its care at their Celebration for the Turkeys. Mingle with those equally passionate about animals during the event’s open sanctuary time with cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep. Then, enjoy delicious vegan fare, presentations from experts in the animal protection movement, and a “Feeding of the Turkeys Ceremony,” during which the sanctuary’s beloved turkeys are honored with a feast of pumpkin pie, kale salad, cranberries, and squash. Come for the turkeys and stay for the wonderful company that celebrates both human and non-human life.
Farm Sanctuary also has a “Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down” event every summer in New York. The event involves camping on the grounds, visiting with the animals, listening to incredible speakers, enjoying fantastic vegan food, and meeting other compassionate people who share your love and respect for animals.
Massachusetts, New York, and California (July and August)
This summer camp draws 500 teens passionate about changing the world. With camps in California, New York, and Massachusetts, YEA empowers and supports teens to make the world a better place. Combining typical camp activities with activist workshops and discussions, this is the place for vegan youth to connect.
Soul Camp (Vegan-Friendly)
Warrensburg, New York (August) and Wonder Valley, California (October)
This event is not vegan (or even vegetarian), but they do have vegan options and I thought it was worth a mention! You can reawaken the power we all had as kids at Soul Camp, a multi-day, multi-location all-inclusive wellness sleepaway and day camp for adults. Leave your worries and iPhones behind to gather and participate in dozens of workshops, classes and seminars that nourish your body, mind and spirit—including kundalini yoga, oneness meditation, dance, cardio, boot camp, stand up paddleboarding, breathwork, dreamcatcher creating, indigo dying, horseback riding, energy work, essential oils 101, ropes adventure courses, trampoline parks, mala-bead making and more! Make new friends while noshing on vegan and gluten-free s’mores around the campfire, or one of the many plant-based meals and snack options during camp.
Stephanie Dreyer is a freelance writer and author who looks forward to teaching others about the joy of plant-based cooking in her class at Soul Camp West this year.