Your Ultimate Guide to Living Your Best Vegetarian Life at the 2019 VegFest O‘ahu

On September 21, try jackfruit tacos and cauliflower shawarma while learning about a more sustainable plant-based Island lifestyle.
Photos: Courtesy of VegFest O‘ahu


Explore Honolulu’s plant-based food scene; catch a mini-class in yoga, hula or dance; try vegan versions of some familiar comfort foods; and learn more about sustainable living island-style at the fourth VegFest O‘ahu on the grounds of Honolulu’s Civic Center.


SEE ALSO: A Meat Eater’s Guide to Vegetarian Burgers in Hawai‘i


What it is

Organizers put together a full day of activities that include guest speakers, musicians and an eclectic mix of plant-based foods, information on climate change and how to get involved on a variety of issues connected to a better planet. Admission and parking is free for the all-day event though some vendors will charge for food or other products available for sale. 


Event producer Joy Waters promises a feast for all the senses. “It’s not just about the delicious food,” she says. Plant-based food is officially a trend, with sales that grew five times more than total grocery sales in the U.S. this year (11% versus 2%), according to industry data. Dining Alliance Restaurant organization says sales of meat alternatives rose by a staggering 268% from 2018 to 2019, even before Burger King rolled out the Impossible Burger nationwide.


The mini-classes will be run every half hour by the Still & Moving Center. A Harmony Haven tent will offer gong sound baths. And this year’s event coincides with Peace Day so there will be a special presentation by the bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Temple with a choir and dancers performing the Golden Chain Buddhist sutra. And a Peace Day Lounge will provide a history of how Peace Day got started in Hawai‘i.


SEE ALSO: We Tried the Nia Move It Class at Still and Moving Center in Kaka‘ako

Uncle’s vegan ice cream sandwiches


When and Where

Sept. 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds near the Sky Gate sculpture.


Where to Park

Public parking is free at the adjacent government lots on the weekends. Entrance to the underground parking lot is closest to 651 S. Beretania St. from the far left lane, just past Alapaʻi Street, where the metered stalls are free on Saturday. Bicycle: The Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds are at the west end of the King Street Cycle Track, a protected, two-way bike lane. (A bike rack is on the Capitol side near Punchbowl Street.)


How Much It Costs

It’s free to attend, park and try various samples. About 50 vendors will be showcasing and selling their specialties: food, fashion, bags and other products.


SEE ALSO: The 12 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes on O‘ahu Right Now


vegan loco moco from Down To Earth


What to Eat, Drink and Buy

There will be even more food vendors than last year’s event, which drew close to 5,000 people. One of the more unusual dishes is a sandwich that looks a lot like fried chicken but is made with banana tree flowers from Fresh Over Flesh, a Downtown-based pop-up/caterer. Best to bring some cash for ease of purchasing.


Other dishes on the menu include: vegan loco moco from Down To Earth, Juicy Brew’s mochiko chik’n bowl, kakiage tempura from Peace Café, “not pork” kim chee manapua, cauliflower shawarma wrap, jackfruit tacos, falafel waffle, watermelon and veg feta salad, mushroom tamales, roasted vegetable focaccia, kalo brownies, ‘ulu cinnamon rolls, Uncle’s vegan ice cream sandwiches, Daizu-Tei mac nut soft serve, açaí bowls and local Sky Kombucha.


A large booth sponsored by VEDGE Wholesale, a company aiming “to become the local plant-based Costco,” Waters explains, will offer many product samples. She encourages festgoers to try a taste of vegan sausage and cheeses. 


SEE ALSO: We Tried 5 Cauliflower Pizza Crusts From O‘ahu Stores and Restaurants



What to Watch

Five cooking demos are scheduled with expert chefs offering free samples. They include: Kaiser Permanente’s Kim Oshita making local-style cauliflower rice, Down to Earth’s Paul Onishi prepping Healthy Loco Moco, Umeke Market’s Chickpea Taco Salad, and folks from Adventist Health Castle making sushi burgers and vegan pho.


Music will include: Tavana, Paul Izak, Taimane and acoustic rhythm and blues group Hook + Line.


New this year, Waters says, will be a variety of Aloha Activism projects including a tent showing statistics about climate change and Interactive Art Making where the public is invited to draw on fabric squares to create a community quilt. She says folks can make prayer flags that will be displayed at future events.  


An Aloha Activism Street Theater team features actors presenting myth-busting short skits about veganism. Think: “Where do you get your protein?” or “Don't you need milk for calcium?”


SEE ALSO: Jack Johnson on Staying Local, Environmentalism and Superstardom




  • Bring a refillable water bottle to fill up at the water refill station from Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation where folks can get free filtered water instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles.

  • Reusable utensils and containers are appreciated. 

  • Bring a blanket or towel to sit on to enjoy the food, music and speakers.

  • Show up hungry for lunch or an early dinner with a diverse variety of plant-based food available to sample, watch how it’s made or buy to try later.

  • Check out a new perspective on climate change expressed through a LEGO club headed by a scientist with 3D models that represent the statistical impacts of animal agriculture on climate change using LEGO bricks made out of recycled plastic. 

  • Try a product you’ve never seen before. In earlier years, Waters said some vendors launched their businesses at VegFest O‘ahu while others they tried out new dishes at the festival and used the feedback to determine which to keep making.


For more information, go to


Read more stories by Robbie Dingeman


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