Inaugural Veg’N Brew Fest coming Oct. 6

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The organizers of Veg’N Brew Fest want everyone — from dedicated vegans to those who have yet to dabble in vegetarian food — to come explore the variety of plant-based offerings that can be found in Fort Wayne.

The inaugural festival will take place Oct. 6 at Headwaters Park from noon-6 p.m., with a special VIP hour from 11 a.m. to noon.

The festival will include local and regional restaurants offering vegan items, vendors, cooking demonstrations, a speaker, children’s activities, local breweries and more.

There is a growing interest in eating less meat both locally and around the country, said Karen Asp, one of the festival’s organizers.

“I think more and more people are exploring (eating less meat) in Fort Wayne in particular,” she said. “We have many, many restaurants now that are adding vegan options to their menu or making sure they can accommodate their vegan guests if they don’t have a specific menu option.”

In addition to vegan food offerings, the committee wanted to include local breweries for several reasons, Asp said. First, many people considering a vegan diet often wonder if they can still have beer and wine — which they can, in most cases.

In addition, the committee wanted to create a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where people interested in eating more plant-based foods could ask questions.

“We’re hoping with a beer garden type of atmosphere it will be an easy place for people to start talking about eating more plants and taking animals off their plate. And if there is someone next to them who is 100 percent vegan and is willing to answer questions, as most of us are, well great, it starts a conversation,” she said.

Asp emphasized the festival is not just for those who are already vegetarians and vegans, but also for those interested in simply eating more plant-based foods. In fact, the goal of the festival is threefold, she said.

“For those people who are already vegan, we just want to keep their enthusiasm up about what Fort Wayne has to offer,” she said.

“To all of the people trying vegan food for perhaps the first time, what we really want to do is turn their taste buds…(and) show people that eating plant-based is not only extremely nutritious, it is also incredibly delicious.”

“We’re also hoping they get the message that you can veganize or ‘plantify’ any food, including everything they’ve grown up with (like mac and cheese and other comfort foods, for instance) and hope that the food they sample at the festival encourages them to eat more meatless meals, either at home or when they go out to eat or both!” Asp wrote in an email.

The committee has been creating buzz around the festival for the past several months through several fundraisers at Trubble Brewing, Pint and Slice and Hop River Brewing Company.

“We’ve had good showing, good support from the community…the buzz is growing,” Asp said of the fundraising efforts.

The festival is free, with the special VIP hour costing $15.

For more information and a list of participating restaurants, vendors, breweries and more, visit fwvegfest.com.