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Salt Lake City VegFest, organized and presented by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, hit Salt Lake City Library Square September 8 with a combination of over fifty different vegan vendors, food trucks, restaurants and nonprofits. The community came together over live music, speakers, workshops, a film screening, a children’s area and a beer garden.

According to the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, this event was a unique opportunity for non-vegans to learn how easy it is to eat vegan. With a recommendation to bring empty stomachs, the plethora of animal-product-free vendors gave festival-goers access to a wide variety of vegan foods. For the entire festival duration, a long-line could be seen leading to the popular LA-based Southern Fried Vegan. Other local eateries Vertical Diner and Zest, and Ogden-native Lavender Kitchen and Z’s Hot Sauce were also in attendance. Locally brewed kombucha, beer, and other beverages could be found across many of the various vendors.

A Vegan Health & Fitness panel was held featuring Nurse Practitioner Martie Nightingale, CNM, DNP, certified nutrition specialist; Personal Trainer Health Coach Lexi Purrington; and PETA’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door 2015 winner Victor Ivan.

As well as being an animal rights activist and fitness enthusiast, Victor Ivan eats primarily a whole-foods plant-based raw vegan diet.

“I seasonally change my diet habits,” said Ivan. “During the summer, I try to be as raw as possible. Anything that is cooked or heated I don’t put on the table. It’s actually easier than you think. I turn Ceviche into a raw vegan version for lunch. My diet is mostly fruit and vegetables, and I love greens.”

In response to the question, “where do you get your protein?”, the panelists responded after a period of laughter from the audience.

Ivan continued the discussion with, “If you do the research, there is actually protein in everything we eat. Even as a raw vegan, it’s really not that difficult for me to find protein. I’ve shifted my thinking from ‘Am I getting enough protein?’ to ‘Am I getting enough greens?’”

“You do get quite a big amount of protein from fruits and veggies,” said Nightingale. “For people that are really concerned, they can do the tracking on a program like Fitness Pal or Chronometer, and see where they are getting things, and I think they will be shocked at how much is really in there and how quick you get it.”

Purrington added, “Greens are a big source people definitely don’t look at. I get a lot of bigger guys as clients, and they hear vegan, and it scares them because they don’t know about it and they may not know that green things do have protein in them.”

Ivan mentioned that plant-based sources of protein are cleaner and do not have the saturated fats and cholesterol that animal-based protein has.

According to the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, over 5,000 people attended the conference last year.

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