The Activist Behind Berkeley’s Only Vegan Food Festival

The Activist Behind Berkeley’s Only Vegan Food Festival

Due to the fact completely committing to veganism in 2016, The Bizerkeley Vegan has been obtaining to the plant of the matter by sharing her expertise about vegan life with the general public. Her most important feat? Arranging the Bizerkeley Foods Festival in 2021—Berkeley’s to start with and only vegan foodstuff competition.

At first slated to debut in May perhaps 2020, Hazel was forced to pause her options until finally the next year, when she been given sponsorship from Berkeley to launch the city’s initially-ever vegan fest to a group of in excess of 1,000 attendees in the parking whole lot of Athletics Basement. The occasion showcased local vegan suppliers, relatives pursuits, and academic means for group members of all ages. Now in its next calendar year, Hazel appears to be like forward to growing its radius to include more sellers in order to gain much more folks.

But the success she’s now looking at wasn’t cooked up overnight—and it was not a solo energy, either, thanks to her family members and local community members who have “wrapped close to (her dietary alternatives) instead of rejecting (them).”

“My dad made use of to eat Burger King and McDonalds, and now he’s super mindful of meat intake,” Hazel tells me. “I tell him, do you want to meet your grandchildren? You have to try to eat right. Sicknesses like diabetes normally run in family members because of particular consuming patterns.  You gotta have anything environmentally friendly on your plate. Try to eat your steak, but consume more vegetation, as well.”

For the previous eight several years, she has been volunteering, observing and connecting with vegan places to eat, festivals, and companies close to the state to to make a vegan foodstuff pageant whole of “culinary wizardry.” She owes a good deal, she claims, to the Vallejo Healthful Food items Festival, as very well as to companies like the Food items Empowerment Job in San Jose.

“I’ve been motivated by the hustlers out below,” she says. “I 1st achieved the Vegan Hood Cooks in their early days when they just had a table at Bay Location pop-ups. Now they have their personal food items truck, catering enterprise, and are highlighted on VICE. Looking at them expand, and coming from our communities, that produced me recognize the spirit of hustling that helps make our vegan scene so dope.”

Looking at other Black women of all ages like Vegan Hood Chefs gain nationwide recognition by way of their Southern-design cooking and unbiased grit and appreciating fellow Vallejo business owners like E-40 for his contributions to food stuff culture, her passion now is sharing how the Bay is a earth-class destination for any vegan.

The Activist Behind Berkeley’s Only Vegan Food Festival
Supporting nearby vegan organizations like Vegan Warmth is a precedence for Hazel (Jeffrey Litman)

At getaway activities and cook dinner outs, she exams recipes like buffalo cauliflower instead of rooster wings, or adapts Filipino dishes from her neighbors to make vegan sisig. In meat-dependent and quickly meals-saturated environments that affect several reduced-revenue, East Bay communities, Hazel is cooking up strategies to rethink how everybody can advantage from vegan tactics.

“There are so lots of ways to be vegan and healthy,” Hazel claims. “It’s not an unattainable, white hippie issue. I want to consider the whiteness out of veganism, since it’s truly for everybody.” 

Functioning with corporations like the Meals Empowerment Undertaking in Petaluma and coordinating the Vallejo Healthy Meals Pageant from 2019 to 2021, Hazel has been joyfully marinating in the Bay Area’s numerous vegan group and sharing what she has figured out with others. 

She might be a self-proclaimed “tree hugger,” but Hazel isn’t overly idealistic about her solution to switching consuming habits for people living in her neighborhood. Now, she is functioning on a cookbook with her mom that gives possibilities for dishes that are commonly enjoyed in her domestic, this sort of as black-eyed peas. She is also collaborating with tiny enterprises in the region, including Physician Hop’s Serious Difficult Kombucha, Liquified Juicery, Eclipse Ice Product, and Nixta Pupusas to “put on for the underdogs.” 

For any person skeptical of veganism’s practicality, The Bizerkeley Vegan has a simple reminder: “Anything you can eat, I can take in vegan.”

Capture Erika serving much more information about Bay Region vegan lifestyle on her site, or view as she suggests her favorite vegan pizza joint in San Francisco on an episode of KQED’s “Check, You should!”.