When Patricia Haddock mentions she's a vegan, the response is often, "Oh, me too." Haddock said, "I realized there was a need for connection," and she soon created VegRehoboth.
On June 1 at the Epworth United Methodist Church, VegRehoboth, a non profit social and outreach organization for the vegan and vegetarian community, teamed up with Compassion Over Killing, a noprofit animal advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles that focuses on animal protection and promotes vegetarian eating to produce VegFest 2013.
A festival that celebrated vegetarian and vegan eating as well as animal protection, VegFest featured more than 30 exhibitors, with nationally known organizations supporting animal rights such as Fin Free, the Humane Society of the United States, and Mercy for Animals.
Other local exhibits included the Delaware SPCA, VegRehoboth and a variety of local restaurants selling their vegetarian and vegan snacks, such as Nage Restaurant, a(MUSE.) and Hobos Restaurant. Cake Break, a dessert company in Rehoboth Beach, sponsored the first cupcake eating contest for VegFest with their vegan and gluten-free cupcakes.
As guests came and went throughout the day, nine different speakers talked to the crowds with encouraging words and cooking demonstrations for healthier and more animal friendly lifestyles. Paul Shapiro, vice president of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States, explained the mission of vegetarians and vegans by saying, “We’re working on [the animals'] behalf as if their lives depend on it, because in all honesty, they do.”
John Schlimm, a vegan activist, educator, artist and author, recounted his decision to stop eating saying, “No human being or living animal should go through life unloved,” evoking an emotional response from both himself and the crowd.
Well over 500 visitors, young and old, from near and far, demonstrated, as Shapiro said. “This idea has reached the mainstream." After seeing the success of the celebration of vegetarianism and animal protection, organizers of VegFest 2013 said they have every intention to make this an annual event.