16 Vegan Dishes to Try at VegFest O’ahu

Gratin ‘Ulu, black bean brownies, nachos ‘ulu, chili ‘ōlena, a vegan tasting tent, and all the plant-based treats you could want.
The down-to-earth Spicy Tofu Poke will be one of the dishes featured at Vegfest O’ahu 2018.

Type #veganrecipes into Instagram’s search box and over 2 million posts will appear. These aren’t pictures of salads or fruit platters, they’re imaginative recipes for mouth-watering baked goods and entrees. Once considered a niche, plant-based foods have become mainstream.

“I think it’s actually a cultural shift,” says Sisi Kong, community outreach team leader at Down to Earth Organic and Natural supermarkets, sponsor of the upcoming VegFest O’ahu. “The internet has made it so easy to find information, so I think people are taking more ownership and having more of a stake in understanding where their food comes from, and you know, they’re researching how it’s produced.”

Those looking to add more plant-based foods to their diet will have the opportunity on Saturday October 13 at VegFest O’ahu, described on its website as a celebration of island life, plant-based and sustainable. This year’s free festival takes place from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Frank Fasi Civic Grounds. The event is in its third year and has also seen a surge in interest – the first festival attracted around 3,500 attendees compared to last year, which had nearly 5,000.

How exactly does the event appeal to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores? By having a variety of speakers, entertainment, cooking demonstrations and food stalls. Kelly Stern, co-founder of Yogarden, a Waimānalo farm that provides yoga and volunteer farming opportunities, hosts a cooking demonstration and thinks the festival is an opportunity for people to try foods that may seem scary. She makes a nine-ingredient breadfruit gratin that replaces ‘ulu with potatoes and uses coconut milk to replace dairy products.

Ulu Gratin YoGarden VegFest Oahu

‘Ulu au gratin by Yogarden.

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t intimidating, something that was doable,” Stern says.

VegFest will feature a total of five chef demos, including Stern’s. Madeline Kammerer, Community Assistant at Down to Earth, will show festival-goers how to make spinach lū’au and spicy tofu. Chef Mama T Gonsalves of ‘Umeke Market will be making vegan falafel using ingredients like chickpeas, tahini and kale. Chef William Digiorgio will prepare zucchini and oat pancakes. And Kim Oshita, registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente, will make a tofu mix with black beans and kale. After learning how to prepare these dishes, participants will also have the opportunity to try them.

Down to Earth Spinach Luau

Spinach Lū’au down to earth.

Saturday’s festival will also have more than a dozen food stalls with prepackaged treats and prepared meals available for sale. Some notable vegan restaurants that will be there are ‘Umeke Market and Peace Café, which will offer seven items, including its katsu sandwich ($8) and mochi cake ($3). Attendees will want to leave room for dessert. Ke Nui Kitchen, a North Shore catering company, will offer a black bean brownie made with cocoa, coconut oil and, of course, black beans, while Down to Earth will offer white chocolate cookies. and macadamia nuts ($2). Ke Nui Kitchen and Down to Earth will also have tickets available for sale.

SEE ALSO: First Look: Juicy Brew Kaimukī

Jennifer Meleana Hee, chef at Juicy Brew, says “getting more people using ‘ulu is one of Juicy Brew’s missions.” Those looking to bite into breadfruit can purchase the restaurant’s baked ‘ulu nachos with organic jackfruit, ‘ōlena pepper, cashew ‘cheez’ and pickled vegetables (price TBD). For more ‘ulu goodness, attendees can sample 2018 Best of Honolulu award-winning hummus ‘Ulu Mana’, which replaces chickpeas with breadfruit. There will be four flavors available to try and buy—Totally Turmeric, Hoppin’ Jalapeño, Bangin’ Beet, and Sweet Potato—as well as fresh ‘ulu chips ($7 or 3 for $20 for all items).

SEE ALSO: Best of Honolulu 2018: Food

Ulu Mana VegFest Oahu 2018

Hummus from ‘Ulu Mana.
Photo: David Croxford

People looking to take home vegan snacks and specialty items can visit a handful of kiosks, including Hitch Distribution. The local business is a plant-based foodservice distributor that will sell Tofuna Fysh Sauce ($5), Butler Soy Curls ($4), and Louisville Vegan Jerky ($5). Kōkua Market, a food cooperative in Honolulu, will also offer items for sale, such as cookies and chips. There will also be a vegan sampling tent where people can try things like vegan meats and cheeses.

VegFest Oahu Soy Butter Curls 2018

Soy Butler curls.

“We’re appealing to people who have at least been open to this idea of ​​maybe going lighter on meat and dairy,” says Joy Waters, who organizes vegetable festival Ohhaha. “We are still very much geared towards the omnivorous meat eater who bornI do not really know.

Lorraine Sakaguchi, president of VegFest’s sponsoring organization, the Vegetarian Society of Hawai’i, thinks people will leave VegFest with a new perspective on plant-based eating.

“I think they’re going to see that a plant-based diet isn’t a grueling thing you have to put yourself through to be healthier or to help your planet or the animals,” she says.

The event is not just about food.

There are retailers such as Vegans Rock Apparel, which sells clothing and accessories, and Indigo Elixirs, which offers beauty and skincare products. Attendees can listen to speakers who will discuss topics such as health and climate change. One of the speakers, Genesis Butler, is a teenage activist and former TEDx Talks presenter who has lectured on animal rights and the environment. The festival will also feature musical performances, dance classes – you can learn to belly dance – and yoga.

“When you introduce people to diet, it naturally comes with lifestyle, because it’s not just about the foods you eat, but also the products you use,” Kong says. “It’s kind of a very holistic approach because the plant-based lifestyle is very holistic.”

VegFest O’ahu will take place on Saturday, October 13 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Frank Fasi Civic Grounds, 558 S. King St. vegfestoahu.com.