VegFest, a celebration of a healthy, sustainable and compassionate lifestyle, will return due to high demand Saturday at Depot Park.
The free, family-friendly event was created with the goal for people of all ages to have fun while learning about ways to improve health and lessen impact on the environment.
This year’s VegFest will include 30 restaurants specializing in either food, beverage or dessert, and all of them encompass what VegFest is all about — fresh, natural ingredients and a healthy lifestyle.
According to the website, there will be popular local vendors at the event such as Curia On the Drag, Daily Green, Humble Wood Fire, Big Island Bowls and more. However, there will also be a few who will travel to the event.
Tea Nation USA is a web and event-based store originating in Jacksonville. The team behind the store travel all over North Florida selling their organic hand-crafted tea blends that are geared towards healing.
Kayla Taylor, a co-founder of Tea Nation USA, was a nutritional therapist and holistic healer producing healing teas for 15 years. Kayla started the business with her husband, Samuel Taylor, where she said they work together to make natural healing mainstream.
“We’ve found that those who have committed to a vegan lifestyle are typically highly health-conscious,” Kayla said. “At Tea Nation we aim to educate people about natural alternatives, so VegFest is a perfect fit for us.”
Kayla said she makes each individual tea by hand to ensure consistency, only using organic ingredients. She added that if you aren’t drinking organic, then you’re drinking a cup of carcinogens, which negates the healing properties of the tea.
“We get positive feedback all the time, and that is exactly why we are in this business,” she said. “We are helping people take back control of their health and thus their lives.”
Kayla said that her husband and she both highly recommend their immuniTEA, which was one of the first blends that Kayla developed and has worked miracles for her weak immune system. She said she used to get sick four times per year consistently but hasn’t gotten sick since she first made the tea.
“Not only does this tea seriously work, but the blend of eucalyptus, elderberry, ginger, hibiscus and other herbs is just delicious,” Kayla said. “We always have a pitcher in the fridge.”
Kayla said she’s looking forward to the event to meet all of the health-conscious people as well as to try some kombucha from their friends at Wellspring, who specialize in sparkling probiotic tea.
“People should come by and see us because we will be sampling one of our signature teas in addition to offering custom blends on site, so attendees will have the option to design their own teas,” said Taylor.
In order to promote their goal of reduced animal suffering, VegFest will also include a variety of animal rescues and sanctuaries. These include the Alachua County Humane Society, CJ Acres, Gainesville Rabbit Rescue, Pug Rescue of Florida, Plenty of Pit Bulls, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Kindred Spirits Sanctuary and Another Chance Ranch.
Felicia Sobieska, a 21-year-old UF speech therapy senior, said she was inspired to go to the event due to the countless healthy vegetarian options.
“It’s important for everyone to respect food and understand how badly animals are treated,” Sobieska said.
The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include speakers, vendors, exhibitors, educational booths, music and children’s activities.
Richard Stehli, a veggie fest volunteer, uses an apple cutter and corer for granny smith apples during the VegFest at Plaza of the Americas in 2011.