Vegan Street Fair Is Back With An Even Bigger Cruelty-Free Food Lineup

By Jessica Hamlin

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Vegan tacos! (via Facebook)

If veganism conjures images of bland salad, then you haven't experienced the vegan food renaissance happening in Los Angeles.

Enter the Vegan Street Fair—happening for the second year on March 20—which will host over 90 of L.A.'s hottest vegan and non-vegan vendors. They'll be serving up cruelty-free specialties like tamales, tempura, cupcakes, ice cream, pizza, donuts, and gumbo meant to satisfy the tastes of the strict vegan crowd and their carnivorous comrades.

"It's not about preaching to the choir," Vegan Street Fair co-founder Jessica Schoech tells LAist about the all-vegan event that debuted last year on a rare day of hail in LA. "A lot of [non-vegan vendors] believe veganism is on the rise and they want to be a part of it. We want to show them that we really like to eat just like everyone else."

As a New York native who formerly worked in the food service industry, Schoech attended all kinds of food festivals and wanted to create a vegan version of a New York street festival married with Taste of Chicago, which has sample-sized portions so people can taste a variety of food.

"Street fairs are typically about culture, love, family and community," says Schoech.

Since it's impossible to get to every vegan spot in L.A., from the Westside to Pasadena, Schoech and her husband Ken—both vegans—created the Vegan Street Fair as a one-stop shop to eat ALL the vegan things. This year's fair is already slated to be at least three times bigger than last year's debut event, speaking to veganism's surging popularity and choices in LA.

Newcomers at this year's Vegan Street Fair include Blue Window, which serves up comfort food like chili cheese Frito tamales; Casa Coqui's Puerto Rican gluten-free potato balls and green banana fritters; Instagram-worthy Shojin sushi; Yoga-urt soft serve; and Reno's the NomEats food truck.

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Vegan jambalaya and cornbread from Krimsey's (via Facebook)

And if you like goats and cheese—but not when the two mingle—the Sanctuary at Soledad is also making its fair debut. The former goat cheese maker turned vegan last year and now makes its luscious cheeses without the animal element while remaining a sanctuary for former dairy goats and other rescue animals.

Vegan food fan favorites like Divine Dips ice cream, Highland Park's Donut Friend and Sage Organic Vegan Bistro will be returning along with many others. We can't get enough of Sage's buffalo cauliflower.

Since veganism isn't limited to food, vegan fashion vendors including Beet x Beet, Vegetaryn and Vegans Rock Apparel will be hawking tees with slogans like, "Plant Based Party," "If looks could kale," and "I got 99 problems but protein ain't one."

Admission to the Vegan Street Fair is free, but like a carnival from childhood days (and other food festivals), event vendors will only accept tickets, available for 50 cents each at ticket booths.

"We save one to two minutes per [vendor] transaction with this system," Schoech says.

Last year Vegan Street Fair debuted to about 10,000 people and only five ticket booths so this year Schoech says they'll be better prepared with 30 ticket booths. The fair will also be two hours longer and the space will be wider this year to accommodate a large crowd.

Food samples from each vendor will cost about $3 so attendees can divide and conquer the fair and stuff their faces with an array of animal-free eats. Some vendors will also serve a special full-sized, full-priced dish for those who want to pig—er, tempeh?—out on their favorites.

Vegan Street Fair plans to post vendor menus ahead of the event so attendees can plan how many tickets to buy once they arrive. Each food vendor plans to sell one to four items.

Limited VIP tickets are available for $40 and will act like a fast pass to the front of lines.

Schoech advises folks to get to the fair early since there's no knowing how many will flock to the cruelty-free feast this year. Carpool, rideshare or public transit are also recommended. The fair is steps away from the North Hollywood Red Line stop.

Vegan Street Fair is Sunday, March 20, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. in North Hollywood at 11223 Chandler Boulevard between Lankershim Boulevard and Vineland Avenue. More information can be found here.

Jessica Hamlin is a journalist, web producer and editor born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. So she’s, like, a bonafide Valley Girl. Jessica formerly worked as an editor for AOL’s hyperlocal news start-up Patch and her work has appeared on KPCC’s website and in LA Downtown News, Pasadena Weekly and Pasadena Magazine. A Kombucha addict passionate about wellness and nutrition, Jessica likes making and discovering tasty and healthy food and started taking pictures of meals back when everyone used film cameras. You can find her work on her website, Twitter and Instagram.