Israel hosted on Monday what organizers say is the largest vegan festival in the world. Vegan Fest 2014, a daylong event featuring workshops, lectures, panels, concerts and (of course) meat- and dairy-free food, was expected to attract some 15,000 people to Park Leumi in Ramat Gan.
Despite the Israeli love for the outdoor barbecue, especially prevalent during the current Sukkot holiday and on Independence Day, Israel actually has the highest number of vegans in the world per capita, at about 4 percent of the population, according to an Israel21c report.
Israelis’ awareness of veganism — eating a diet free of animal products — has skyrocketed recently, partly due to the efforts of activist Tal Gilboa, who in August won Israel’s version of the reality show “Big Brother.” During her run on the popular show, Gilboa was outspoken about her vegan lifestyle, and even convinced several other contestants to change their diet.
A Globes poll later showed that a full 60% of viewers were considering changing their diet as a result of watching the 2014 season of the show.
Vegan Fest organizer Omri Paz told Israel21c that the issue “is completely exploding all over Israel” and that more and more vegan items are becoming available to the consumer.
One of the festival’s sponsors is Domino’s Pizza, which in 2013 introduced their first-ever vegan pizza option in their Israeli branches.