Those who think Bakersfield is just another meat-and-potatoes town ought to think again. Along with all those omnivores, we have a growing number of people following a plant-based diet. Most of those folks are likely to show up hungry for the first-ever Vegan Fest, promising an assortment of the best local vegan offerings along with live music, shopping and more.

That there is enough local interest in plant-based diets for an event is no surprise to Jaclyn Allen, who runs The Hens Roost, which operates three weekend farmers markets — Brimhall and East Hills on Saturdays and Haggin Oaks on Sunday — and a downtown dining spot on G Street. All the ventures have a variety of vegan options and Allen said she has seen interest grow.

"Bakersfield is a hard sell when it comes to veganism but if we do it as a more-relaxed approach, it works," she said. "We're getting more people into trying it and liking it. At our markets we’re coming in predominately vegan."

This first event, which Allen hopes to the first of pop-ups and gatherings for the local vegan community, will take place outside the Kaiser Permanente East Hills complex, which also hosts the weekly Market on the Hill farmers market. In order to keep the festival vegan-focused, it will be located on the other side of the lot by the zen garden.

That's the perfect location for yoga, which will be led by White Wolf Wellness. Attendees can also groove to the sounds of DJ Tony Parson and bands Dancing Tommy and The Akoustics. 

Of course, the big draw is food and many vendors are going all out for this. The Hens Roost will debut some new Mediterranean dishes, while Vida Vegan will unveil a purepa burger, using its pupusa-arepa hybrids as buns for the burger with a Beyond Meat patty that is topped with fried plantains and curtido slaw.

"The platanos are in a garlic mofongo style," said restaurateur Alejandro Ocampo, who is a partner in Vida. "It'll be like a jam spread on the burger."

"It's our take on a burger, Latin-inspired. We’ve never done anything like this before."

The dish is expected to make the cut for the menu at the Vida Vegan restaurant, slated to open later this spring on Stine Road.

Vida Vegan will also bring some of its desserts, which have included carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting and assortment of cookies.

Those with a sweet tooth can also purchase desserts from Better Bowls and iced treats from Paleta Co., which will bring coconut, coconut matcha and berry hibiscus bars.

Ocampo's Bakersfield Pizza Co. will also be slinging vegan pies and its dairy-free mac and cheese.

Flame and Flour Fine Baked Goods will have vegan bagels including a peanut butter variety, made with The Hens Roost's PB Jacks all-natural peanut butter, and a garden salsa one featuring salsa from market vendor Brother Ray's, as well as vegan biscotti.

Other dining options include Chuku Buku's Kitchen, Kelly's Croutons and We Be Grubbin, which will also host a food demo. Other demos will be held by The Hens Roost, Locale Farm to Table and Frankie Reclusado, known for his grilling techniques. 

Non-food vendors include Soapterra, Cactus Amongus, KR Woodworks, artist Alison Beitzel-Mendiola, All Love Co. apparel, and Von Wieting Co., which sells handcrafted coconut candles with a portion of profits donated to animal rescue.

Along with offering a good time, the festival aims to shine a light on the Apple Core Project, which aims to assist those in the community who are food-insecure. Allen, who also spearheads the project, said helping get the word out on resources available to those in need will be part of future events.

For now, Allen is excited to kick off the Vegan Fest at the eastside market.

"The east side of town is gorgeous," she said. "We’re bringing the festival there and I think people are going to love it. They're hungry for things to do. We're going to plant a vegan seed over there."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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