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Selena Holmes, Justin Holmes, and Tamara Pavesi, the three founding members for Bellingham Veg Fest.jpg
Selena Holmes, Justin Holmes, and Tamara Pavesi, the three founding members for Bellingham Veg Fest

Celebrate all things vegan at Bellingham Veg Fest

On Sept. 18, Bellingham's Barkley Village, a 250-acre urban setting, will see its park area transformed from a quaint grassy knoll into a day-long party of food, games, and fun. And it is all vegan!

This marks the third year for the Bellingham Veg Fest, a celebration of all things vegan. This festival is all-inclusive, welcoming everyone, be they veg-curious or longtime, experienced vegans. The festival is free to attend, family-friendly, and geared for all ages to have a blast while learning about the vegan lifestyle.

Festival Director Selena Holmes, also a founding member, says, "We are about compassion, education, inspiration, and community. We stand for compassion towards human and non-humans alike, hold a commitment to the health and sustainability of our planet, and create ways to support our vegan small businesses and community."

Holmes and her husband met Tamara Pavesi ( the third founding member) while participating in various outreach programs around Bellingham. The three got to talking about ways to make the vegan community more accessible and stronger. It was soon after that the Bellingham Veg Fest was born.

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"We learned there are many people who wanted to go vegan and/or plant-based but did not know where to start," said Holmes. "Our goal was to create a warm and welcoming space for anyone and everyone who wanted support."

But where does one start?

If you are curious or considering veganism, you might be wondering where to start and where to shop. It may seem like a perplexing or even overwhelming proposition, but Bellingham Veg Fest is here to show you it is easier than you might think. At this event, you will find free vegan food sampling from some of the finest eateries and vegan businesses in town. Never tasted dairy-free sour cream? Give it a whirl with the French onion dip on a chip! How about vegan yogurt and cruelty-free cheeses? Try the yogurt paired with granola or the cheese sliced on a cracker. Perfect for your next charcuterie board and it is all vegan. Curious about all the sundry ways to eat tofu? They have got you covered here, too, for they will be serving cubed tofu for the tasting.

Fill your senses and satisfy your tastebuds with over 50 vendors to explore all out on the green. Popular vegan restaurants, such as Sage Against the Machine, will be serving their breakfast sandwich made with a house vegan sausage. Lumpia Luv is serving vegan Lumpia and Veggie Pancit, while over at JoJoe’s Doughnuts, find the most delectable dessert in a donut big enough for two. The wide variety of dishes from gyros to poke nachos showcases the vast array of foods a plant-based diet can offer. For the vegan foodie, this will be a smorgasbord!

But where to shop to find the makings for your at-home gyro? Merchants such as the Community Co-op, Alchemy Creamery, and V-GO'S grocery provide sourcing for shopping. At the same time, the folks at Sensibly Sprouted are happy to chat about nutrition and its role in a healthy, happy life.

Meander with the kiddos over to the kid's corner where a storytime, sing-along, or magic show may be in progress.

A plant-based pantry sits stocked with non-perishable items for anyone to browse. The concept is to take as you need with no cost or questions asked.

"It is important to us that people can come and enjoy the event with or without funds," Holmes said.

Though most people may associate veganism with a diet, Holmes is quick to point out it is much more than that, it is a lifestyle that anyone can begin with baby steps, "It’s a lifestyle that does not support any product or enterprise that exploits animals. We believe a vegan lifestyle can be fun and accessible to all."

Bellingham Veg Fest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the park at Barkley Village, just off the Sunset exit on I-5.