VegFest Serves Food With a Side of Education on March 24

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The second annual Rice VegFest is on the way! On Sunday, March 24, the Rice Vegan Society will partner with Houston non-profit Peaceful Planet Foundation to host the vegan-centered festival from noon to 7 p.m. in the Rice Memorial Center (RMC). The event will showcase the value and tastiness of a plant-based diet. Admission to the event is free, and there will also be free parking the day of the event in West Lot Three. The first 700 Rice students will receive a $5 token to use at any of the food vendors, a free door prize ticket, and more. However, the event is also sustainably-focused, so attendees should bring their own utensils and water bottle.

Rice Vegan Society leader Christoph Wagner said this event has taken a year’s worth of planning. The event will feature several Rice performance groups in the RMC Grand Hall, 25 food vendors serving cuisine from around the world in Sammy’s, and breakout sessions and workshops in Farnsworth Pavilion. There will be outside activities in Ray Courtyard, and Rice Coffeehouse will offer a limited-edition plant-based beverage.

Rice VegFest will feature three world-renowned speakers — Dr. Will Tuttle, Linda Carney, and Sailesh Rao. Tuttle is the author of “The World Peace Diet” and has been an advocate for peace, social justice, ethics, and animal rights for the past 30 years. Linda Carney is a primary care and lifestyle physician who is a board member of the recently-founded American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Sailesh Rao is the co-executive producer of the trilogy of documentaries which include “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.”

“[Veganism] is not about an ideology, a trend, or a hype,” Wagner said, noting a plant-based diet is at the core of VegFest. “It is a global responsibility and a moral obligation to foster well-being for the people, for the earth, and for the animals. A plant based diet and lifestyle is the logical consequence of the scientific evidence if we talk about topics such as environmental sustainability, health, social justice and world peace.”

One of the goals of Rice VegFest is to show how delicious vegan food can be. Vegans and plant-based diet advocates point to benefits for human beings, animals, and the planet — food and agriculture contribute to approximately 30-40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Rice Vegan Society encourages a plant-based journey that is a gradual transition to a plant-based diet.

In accordance with their mission statement, the Rice Vegan Society said they aim for VegFest to educate the Rice community on topics such as climate change, world hunger, social justice, health, ethics, and animal rights. Attendees will have access to a forum to discuss solutions for how Rice University can take a leading role in manifesting institutional, sociological, industrial, economical, and global changes through an open dialogue about the power of food in its holistic, global context. The Rice Vegan Society also said they hope VegFest will foster collaborations among sustainability/health/ethical related student organizations, the SA and GSA, and institutional offices and departments. For example, the event is sponsored in part by the Rice Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM), which is Rice’s sustainability office.

Beyond VegFest, the Rice Vegan Society aims to offer long-term solutions for both the Rice and Houston Community. They have partnered with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the Peaceful Planet Foundation to create a Rice-specific plant smart kickstarter guide which will detail a path to a plant-based journey. They are also creating a zero waste guide for Rice events as a resource to event hosts on campus.

Rice VegFest promises a fun, festive atmosphere with a live band, DJs, dancing, a photobooth, lawn games, stimulating educational programming, and of course, great food.