Written By Sason Bishope Parry
The VEG FEST PHILIPPINES is scheduled to return to Metro Manila on November 18th and 19th and celebrate its 8th year of inspiring the vegan lifestyle. The festival, which takes place at The Spine, Blue Bay Walk in Pasay City, is touted as the country’s first and only festival of its kind and the biggest vegan festival in Asia. The festival, as always, is 100% vegan-friendly and will showcase more than 80 cruelty-free vendors selling and showcasing everything from delicious vegan foods, health and sustainable vegan beauty products, vegan fashion, merch, plant-based desserts, and more. The festival will also feature non-profit and animal rights organizations, documentary film showings, guest speakers, vegan influencers, and environmentally friendly activists educating patrons on the urgency of going vegan and why it’s so essential today.
Additionally, VEG FEST PHILIPPINES will have famous vegan chefs and cooking competitions teaching how to make delicious vegan recipes, including Flora Kulinarya, who will educate fans on plant-based indigenous cooking to reduce our carbon imprint. Other attractions include family fun activities, giveaways, and contests. This year, VEG FEST PHILIPPINES will also have a two-day benefit concert for climate change featuring some great alternative rock and Filipino pop bands, including Bird, True Faith, Clean Slate, Mix Fenix, The Pure, and Dino Pascual.
“VEG FEST PHILIPPINES is filled with many traditional Filipino foods made deliciously vegan, from isaw to lechon kawali to sisig to bagnet. For the sweet tooths, we will have doughnuts, ice cream, and other vegan dessert vendors – Don’t worry, everything has been veganized, and even the most diehard meat and dairy lovers won’t believe it’s all made with plant-based ingredients. Absolutely no meat and dairy”said organizer and co-founder TJ Jocson. “We want to show the public that going vegan, especially in our country, is easier than ever, and it’s fun, and it is relevant.”- TJ Jocson – Founder & Organizer
Since its inception in 2016, Veg Fest has been committed to helping spread the word about veganism and helping towards the liberation of all animals and their exploitation. The festival has continued to grow annually, organized and curated by a group of passionate vegan volunteers, including one of the original and inspiring founders, TJ Jocson. In 2019, VEG FEST PHILIPPINES had a massive turnout of over 12,000 patrons per day attending at its BGC location. Then, as the pandemic hit, the festival was forced to move online, but still garnished a lot of attention, and in 2022, VEG FEST PHILIPPINES returned outdoors at its new venue, The Spine Blue Walk, where it will take place again for its 2023 edition.
“Every year, my vegan friends and I dedicate our time and energy to organize VEG FEST PHILIPPINES, for our love for the animals, the planet, and, of course, for everyone who really needs to stop consuming animals and animal by-products to improve their health. Eating meat and dairy is still the leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases.” – TJ Jocson – Founder and organizer
This year’s theme is “Heal the World with Compassion and Climate Action.” The Philippines is no stranger to the climate crisis—having consistently ranked as one of the top five most vulnerable to climate change according to the Global Climate Risk Index. VEG FEST PHILIPPINES aims to educate people every person can do their part to help reduce the effects of global warming and climate change.
As always, VEG FEST PHILIPPINES is 100% non-profit and donates all of the proceeds from the festival to select animal and eco-friendly organizations, which this year include the SIF CARE, The Climate Reality Project (Philippines), and the Philippine Animal Rescue Team.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to organizer and founding member TJ Lucson about veganism and what to expect at this year’s VEG FEST PHILIPPINES 2023.
Sason Bishope Parry: How are you, and how is life?
TJ: Everything is good and a little stressful because Vegfest is getting near! Haha!
SBP: Are you vegan? How did your vegan journey begin?
TJ: I have been vegan for 12 years now, and I became vegan because there was this girl who wouldn’t date me unless I was vegan and a born-again Christian. Haha!
SBP: You’re the owner and one of the founders of Veg Festival PH in Manila. How and when did that start?
TJ: I am one of the organizers of Vegfest PH, and it’s a community event run by volunteers since 2016.
SBP: What are you doing to support the rights of animals?
TJ: Vegfest PH is our platform to support the animal rights movement. We want the event to be inclusive to everyone/anyone, and we plant the seed of our movement from there.
SBP: Do you believe that a plant-based diet is the healthiest?
TJ: I think it is the healthiest if you talk about wanting to have life longevity.
SBP: Tell us about this year’s Veg Festival, where it will be held, and what people can expect.
TJ: This year’s VEG FEST PHILIPPINES hard sell focus is on the climate crisis and the division of the community because of too much ‘wokeness’ ideology. We need to focus on being compassionate and act accordingly to combat the climate crisis and unite as vegans and those looking to become vegan. VEG FEST PHILIPPINES is going more green by partnering with Blue Bay Walk, located in the ECO CITY of the Philippines, Pasay City. And with PLANT-BASED TREATY, we will also be doing a signature campaign.
SBP: Will there be music and other attractions at VEG FEST PHILIPPINES this year?
TJ: There will be a 2-day concert for climate called TUNOG HAYOP (animal sound) featuring local bands who believe in a climate emergency. It’s going to be entertaining with a cause/purpose.
SBP: What are you most excited about for this year’s festival?
TJ: This is the first time we will do a 2-day concert and have three stages simultaneously doing activities. This is like Coachella but vegan, ha-ha!
SBP: What happened to Veg Fest during the pandemic? Do you think the pandemic has accelerated veganism and a plant-based diet in the Philippines?
TJ: VEG FEST PHILIPPINES did happen during the pandemic. In 2020, we did an entirely online event featuring Sir Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd and currently the founder of the Paul Watson Organization. Also, pro athlete Fiona Oakes and was a very insightful event! Then, 2021 was all about giving, so we did a community pantry all over Metro Manila and different parts of the country. In 2022, we were back live at our current venue, which was exciting. This year will be bigger than ever.
SBP: The Filipino diet is high in meat and fatty meats, especially pork (Lechon), as well as seafood. Is veganism widely being accepted there today, and is there a shift to eating fewer animals?
TJ: I think the Philippines is embracing veganism, especially if you base it on the number of vegan businesses and vegan options in restaurants. I believe Filipinos are now more aware that eating plant-based meals is healthier.
SBP: In the last 5 to 10 years, many vegan restaurants, stores, and vegan brands have launched in the Philippines. Do you see this trend continuing?
TJ: Yes, it is growing. Most of the restaurants in the Philippines have vegan options available on their menus. And there are lots of 100% vegan businesses popping up everywhere.
SBP: What do you say to those who frown on veganism and say that a plant-based diet lacks protein and nutrients?
TJ: Well, I don’t really argue with them, but I always tell them about the vegan alternatives for protein, so it’s more of like educational rather than preaching.
SBP: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
TJ: I am proud of being part of Vegfest Pilipinas. It’s the one accomplishment for me that has more meaning because it’s not just going to work to get by or expecting something in return. I mean, getting good vibes and knowing that people are becoming interested in being part of the vegan movement is something that gives me the energy to continue doing this year after year as a labor of love.
SBP: Does Veg Festival support and donate to any animal and environmental organizations and causes?
TJ: Our beneficiary for the 8th year now is SIFCare Foundation – they educate and feed kids and families from rural areas with vegan meals and how to prepare them. This year, we also have the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART) as our animal rights beneficiary and Mobility Awards – organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), MNL Moves, Climate Reality Project-Philippines, 350.Org Pilipinas, and Pinay Bike Commuter to improve conditions for Filipinos who use bicycles as their mode of transport.
SBP: How many people are you expecting this year over the two days?
TJ: We are expecting around 8,000 per day or more!
SBP: What are some of the vegan brands and businesses you are most excited about?
TJ: Well, I don’t really follow because I’m all over the place during VEG FEST PHILIPPINES. I can only check the booths when they’re sold out already, ha-ha. But really, I’m excited to sleep, watch a scary movie, and put my feet up on the bed headboard while eating some leftover vegan food from merchants given to me for free. That’s one of my rewards!
SBP: How does one learn more information on VEG FEST PHILIPPINES?
TJ: Just follow VEG FEST PHILIPPINES on FB, IG, TikTok, Twitter and even on Couchsurfing we are there lol! You may check this link: https://web.facebook.com/events/s/vegfest-pilipinas-2023/1386671455583451/?_rdc=1&_rdr
SBP: Is there anything else you want to share about veganism or VEG FEST PHILIPPINES?
TJ: We need to strengthen our community and take action by going vegan, being mindful of plastic waste and fossil fuel usage, and being kind to others and, more importantly, to the animals.
SBP: What’s next for TJ Jocson and Veg Festival PH?
TJ: Well, I’m putting up a vegan zero-waste naked store called Croft (a Davao-based store) that we will be bringing in Makati City Metro Manila, and I can’t wait to do the 10th year of Vegfest Philippines because it’s going to be big!
For more info on VEG FEST Philippines visit: