International VegFest 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia & The Vegfest Phenomena By John Davis

Article by John Davis  Source: VegSource

Before the 1980s it was all more serious – vegetarians and vegans had congresses and conferences. Then it all began to change:

1981 – International Vegan Festival – started in Denmark. In the smaller European countries you don’t have to go far to be ‘international’.

The idea seems to have arisen from music and other arts festivals which go back a very long way in Europe. We have a record from 1948 that the German Vegetarian Union held what was formally called a ‘Vegetarian Week’, featuring a high proportion of music, literature and art – and they informally referred to it as a ‘festival’.

There was a similar tendency in British and American vegetarians, as far back as the 19th century, to refer to an event informally as a ‘festival’, though the official title was always a more formal conference or congress.

1985 – Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair – this seems to have been the first of this kind of event, more recently renamed as a Festival, joining the trend.

By the mid 1980s – the North American Vegetarian Society had been running an annual North American Vegetarian Congress for ten years, then they renamed it as the ‘Vegetarian Summerfest’ – subtitled ‘Annual Conference of the North American Vegetarian Society’. It was almost certainly the Americans who began the general word shortening process.

In the age of the keyboard, and more recently the mobile phone keypad, it took too long to write all those formal titles. So these vegetarian and vegan festivals became Veg Fest, then VegFest, the just a new single word: Vegfest.

This doesn’t seem to have made it into any of the bigger dictionaries yet, though Wikipedia has a Vegfest page and some online dictionaries are beginning to absorb that.

We have a definite record of a DC VegFest in 1997, it would interesting to know about any earlier uses of the name.

I found below some vegetarian/vegan festivals around the world, with a lot of variations in the official titles, but many of them known locally as ‘the vegfest’ – how long before that becomes a standard?

Meanwhile IVU now has a series of World Vegfests rotating around the world, especially in developing countries, partly in the hope that where we help to launch the idea it might continue as an annual event in the same place.

VegFest Event Scheduled as;

  • 2012, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California;
  • 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
  • 2014 in Africa;
  • 2015 South America;
  • 2016 India or the Middle East;
  • 2017 Europe – often combining with local events.

For further details for International VegFest 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , please contact:



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