One of my favorite parts about living in Davis is all of the community events that bring both the campus and the neighborhood together. This past Mother’s Day weekend, Davis held their annual Whole Earth Festival, a sustainable, zero-waste event that invites vendors and artists from all over to come and enjoy a multitude of festivities. The festival began on the Davis campus in 1969 as a small art class called “Art Happening” where students used art to teach visitors about activism, wellness, and environmental sustainability. One thing I did not know before I attended, however, was the fact that it is an entirely vegan festival as well. Every food stall at the event served such creative and delicious vegan treats and here are my top picks from what I tried.
Phil Me Up: Pancit
Pancit is a traditional Filipino noodle dish that is typically made with pork or chicken. The Phil Me Up stand, though, revamped the recipe to be made with tofu instead. Despite having some reservations, being Filipino myself, I can honestly say that it was done incredibly well. The vegetables were tasty, well seasoned, and the dish was so filling that I was able to get through most of the festival with just that in my system.
NikNek Lemonade: Strawberry Lemonade
I personally am not a big fan of very sour and sugary lemonades, so when I tried NekNik’s strawberry lemonade, I was very surprised at how toned down the flavors were. Rather than leaving me pucker-faced, it was refreshing and nice to sip as I browsed through all the stalls. I had been wanting to try NikNek ever since I first saw their lemon-shaped cart at the farmers market and I can say that the wait was worth it.
Upper Crust Baking: Soft Pretzel
At first, I regretted making such a spur-of-the-moment purchase, but as soon as I took a bite out of that soft pretzel I immediately forgot about all the money I had spent that day. The pretzel’s warm, inviting aroma and its perfect balance of chewiness and softness transported me to a place of pure satisfaction. In fact, I would even go as far as to say it is comparable to Disneyland’s pretzels. I was able to share it with friends as well (because they were just that big) and they all said that it was one of the best pretzels they had ever had.
The Eggroll People: Pad Thai
This one was probably the biggest surprise out of all the vegan foods I had tried at the Whole Earth Festival. I am very used to having my pad thai served with some sort of meat so I really did not know what to expect, especially because I thought that is where the dish got most of its flavor. However, the dish came out to be incredibly delicious. The lack of meat really gave the peanut and other flavors a chance to shine and I think also felt much lighter in comparison to its other counterparts. My plate was left clean after and I thought about the vegan pad thai for so long after that I even made my own version of it at home.
The Whole Earth Festival at Davis was such an amazing experience and I am so happy I got to take part in something that was truly dedicated to protecting our environment. One thing I would like to add is that all restaurants at the festival either served their food with reusable plates and silverware or with compostable materials. After seeing this sustainability in action and noticing how simple it was for the organization to put together, I hope that more events in the future attempt to follow in the Whole Earth Festival’s eco-friendly footsteps.