In a meat-and-potatoes town like Pittsburgh, it can be kind of lonely to be a vegan. That’s why Leila Sleiman and Natalie Fristick decided to create Pittsburgh VegFest, an all-day, meat-free celebration of healthy living.
Now in its second year, Pittsburgh VegFest will return to Allegheny Commons Park East on Saturday, July 30.
Sleiman, a real estate agent, and Fristick, owner of 1944 Skin Care, were moved to launch Pittsburgh VegFest last year, after seeing a need for a family-friendly, outdoor festival that incorporated all aspects of vegan living. The two, who met at an animal-cruelty protest and founded the animal-rights organization Justice for Animals, wanted to create an event that wasn’t just vegan-friendly, but would be fun for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike.
“The vegan-curious are very welcome,” Sleiman says. “It’s just supposed to be this big, awesome party where everyone is included.”
Sleiman says that about 70 vendors will be participating this year, selling art, crafts, handmade products, and plenty of vegan goodies.
“We’re really going to have some of Pittsburgh’s best food available,” says Sleiman. “We’ll have well-known restaurants like Franktuary, and more underground businesses like Onion Maiden, too. They completely sold out of their vegan hot dogs last year, and they’ll be bringing them back.”
Participating restaurants, including Apteka, B52 and Loving Hut, will only be serving vegan dishes, which Sleiman says will give them the chance to showcase menu items that might be otherwise overlooked.
“We look at it as an opportunity for non-strictly vegan places to put their best vegan food forward,” Sleiman says. “Franktuary is obviously known for their hot dogs and meat, but they have so many different veggie options that people will have the chance to try here.”
The non-profit event will also feature a yoga demonstration with Yoga Hive, cooking demonstrations, and a full lineup of live music. Pittsburgh VegFest will be free to attend, and the first 250 people through the door will receive a complimentary gift bag.