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Lives Without Knives hosts vegan small businesses, advocates at VegFest

A sign advertising VegFest is pictured. The event, hosted by Lives Without Knives, featured vegan small businesses and advocates at various booths across Wilson Plaza. (Anna Dai-Liu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Lyah Fitzpatrick

Jan. 28, 2024 11:01 p.m.

Vegan booths and food trucks lined Wilson Plaza for VegFest on Jan. 18 to showcase local businesses and promote a plant-based diet.

The event, hosted by the youth-led organization Lives Without Knives, was held to educate UCLA students about veganism and the ease of a vegan lifestyle, said Chandni Sacheti, the organization’s founder. Around a dozen organizations and businesses were in attendance, selling products including secondhand clothes, curry sauces and vegan bread.

Sacheti, a second-year cognitive science student, said she grew up practicing Jainism, which emphasizes compassion and nonviolence toward all living beings. She added that it taught her to adopt a vegan diet to benefit not just herself, but the planet.

However, Sacheti said she feels veganism has been stigmatized as a radical idea or an undesirable lifestyle. She added that events such as VegFest aim to dismantle that stigma. She said veganism can help to address issues such as the climate crisis, animal cruelty, worker exploitation and facilitate a healthy lifestyle.

As one of the many people promoting this lifestyle at VegFest, Cesar Asebedo stood at a booth for Plant Based Treaty – a worldwide grassroots campaign working to center food systems in fighting the climate crisis. Asebedo said Plant Based Treaty presents at events worldwide to make the campaign more impactful.

“We always talk about fossil fuels, which is true, but let’s talk about the cow in the room, literally,” he said.

Other vendors focused on the health benefits of veganism. Kimberly Vodang hosted a tent dedicated to 24Vegan, a culinary company she founded that manufactures vegan sauces and microwavable meals without harmful preservatives or chemicals.

After hosting a vegan cooking show in Vietnam, Vodang said she wished to start something new and healthy. The booth gave out free samples and offered fresh-cooked, mostly Asian dishes such as garlic noodles and Korean BBQ potstickers.

“I get very good feedback, and it’s really good to interact with my customers,” she said.

Vodang said she encourages students to take the time to get out of their comfort zone and explore vegan options.

(Anna Dai-Liu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
An employee cuts a loaf of yellow-and-purple bread into small cubes. The bread booth was one of several that were promoting vegan foods. (Anna Dai-Liu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

VegFest also featured Unravel at UCLA, which promotes the sale and recycling of secondhand clothes to build a sustainable fashion community. Zoe Yee, a second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said the club sold a good chunk of its inventory at the event. She added that she enjoyed being able to talk to people interested in the club and its mission.

Yee added that she thinks events such as VegFest are important to help educate people who may not have previously had access to information about sustainability and remind them to be mindful of how their actions impact the planet.

“I think it is important to be able to uplift these kinds of behaviors so that we can move towards a more equitable future,” Yee said.

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Lyah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick is a News staff writer on the science and health beat and has contributed to the Daily Bruin since 2021. She is a third-year ecology, behavior and evolution student with a minor in art history.
Fitzpatrick is a News staff writer on the science and health beat and has contributed to the Daily Bruin since 2021. She is a third-year ecology, behavior and evolution student with a minor in art history.
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