If you're interested in learning more about what a vegan diet entails, or just curious about plant-based cooking in general, the place to be this weekend is downtown Scottsdale.
The Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival, now in its fourth year, returns to the Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.
The two-day event will feature a speakers tent, food demo stage, an entertainment and live music area, and a "Mind & Body" area where yoga instructors will be leading sessions on both days. The family-friendly event will also have a designated kid zone. The festival is expected to attract about 6,000 folks to downtown Scottsdale over the course of the weekend.
This year, the lineup of speakers includes author, vegan guru and podcaster Victoria Moran, who has written 12 books on health and spirituality, including the influential tome on vegan living, Main Street Vegan. Moran will be speaking at the event on Saturday.
Local and internationally based chefs will be presenting vegan cooking demos throughout the weekend, including José Gamiz of Phoenix's popular vegan Mexican food trailer, Mi Vegan Madre. Gamiz will be cooking for the crowds on Sunday.
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Of course, with all this talk of food, you're bound to get hungry. Local food vendors selling food at the event include Pho King, Simon's Hot Dogs, Mi Vegana Madre, and Freaks Brother Pizza (whose first brick-and-mortar is forthcoming at The Churchill, the new restaurant and retail complex coming to downtown Phoenix this spring). Vegan beer, wine and cocktails will also be available.
The festival, which is described as "a showcase of 100 percent vegan innovation," is organized by U.S. Veg Corps, a New York-based event production and marketing company that's focused on growing plant-based and green living markets in the U.S. The Arizona Vegetarian Festival is one of the company's flagship events.
General admission is $20 per day, $25 at the door. A GA ticket gives you access to speaker presentations and demos, as well as any free goodies passed out by participating event vendors. VIP admission is available for $75; it includes "express" admission on both days of the festival, plus a goody bag and access to all the activities on both days. These prices don't include ticketing fees and taxes.
If you're on the fence about whether to go or not, check out the Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival website to see the full lineup and schedule of events.