September 2017

VegFest: Hilton Head Island’s Meat-Free Meet Up

Author: Barry Kaufman

To those of us outside the inner workings of the vegan lifestyle, veganism can almost appear a little impenetrable, like a secret club we haven’t learned the secret handshake for. There’s the strict adherence to a set of dietary principles, the relentless altruism when it comes to animal rights, and the constant messaging about the environmental disease that is factory farming.

But here’s something you may not know about vegans. These guys can party.

“We had around 500 people at last year’s VegFest, and we’re thinking we’ll have around 800 this year, especially because we have two bands,” said VegFest organizer Carla Golden.

Golden is a member of the Palmetto Plant Eaters Club, the group that will hold its second annual VegFest from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 21, at Shelter Cove Community Park. And if going vegan means rocking out to some great live music from The Nice Guys and Cranford Hollow at a massive street party, then pass the kale, because we’re in.

But it turns out, you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy VegFest. “We formatted VegFest this year to be attractive to vegans and non-vegans equally. The vegans will get there early and get the best pick of food and the free swag and speeches, and then the music will draw in people who aren’t as familiar with the lifestyle,” Golden said.

For the vegans, there will be a rousing speech from Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, whose philanthropic works have created safe havens for hundreds of animals. They’ll also have a chance to dine on some of the area’s finest vegan cuisine from area restaurants.

And for those of us carnivores and “weekend vegans,” there will be music, entertainment for the kids, and a chance to educate ourselves on living a healthier lifestyle.

But no matter which kingdom your food hails from, animal or vegetable, you’ll be able to come together with friends and neighbors over those great equalizers: vegan beer and wine. Wait, beer isn’t vegan already?
“That was one of the most popular questions at last year’s event,” Golden said. “A lot of traditional wine and beer methods involve filtering through fish bladders. Plus, beers that contain lactose, which is a milk-based sugar, and beers that have honey would not be vegan.”

And if you think the benefits of veganism stop at “not drinking from fish bladders,” think again. Heart disease kills 600,000 people a year, and you’ll never guess which diet is the only one scientifically proven to prevent it. “If we had some kind of outbreak taking out 600,000 annually, there would be an uproar,” Golden said. “That alone should wake up everybody. We all have a heart.”

If not dying of heart disease sounds like your kind of thing, you can learn even more about the vegan lifestyle at this year’s VegFest. Even if you don’t walk away healthier, you will have heard some great music and maybe enjoyed a few vegan beers.

Visit for details.

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