First VegFest Mela fosters plant-based diets, compassion for animals

Festival featured sessions, including verbatim theatre, short film screenings, and talks about benefits of plant-based food

By
Shaharyar Khalid
VegFest banner seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

The inaugural VegFest Mela, which took place on Saturday, emphasised the significance of locally grown vegetarian food and promoting a compassionate society for animals. 

The event, brainchild of activist Aliya Khan Gulay, hosted at the Music and Dance School in collaboration with Animal Alliance Asia, saw a diverse turnout of professionals, students, senior citizens, and children. The festival featured various sessions, including verbatim theatre, a short film screening, and talks about the benefits of plant-based foods. 

Theatre performer Shah Fahad introduced attendees to verbatim theatre, illustrating its potential to advocate for causes such as animal rights and plant-based diets. Participants engaged in numerous fun activities that set an enthusiastic tone for the event.

Theatre performer Shah Farhad (left)conducting a session alongside a participant (right) seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

A notable feature was the screening of the short film 'Halal?', which highlighted the mistreatment of animals in the livestock industry, documenting the daily suffering and abuse they endure.

Screening of the short film 'Halal?' seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— reporter

Vegan food blogger and research scientist Marriyam Hasanay shared her journey to veganism, detailing the social, logistical, and mental challenges she faced. She provided insights into how individuals can transition to vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.

Content creator Marriyam Hassnay sharing her journey to veganism in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

Local chai dhaba owner Haris Ibrahim from DHA spoke about how helping injured stray cats inspired him to create a space in Karachi that accommodates stray animals. His chai dhaba is renowned for hosting friendly stray dogs and cats, which interact with customers. Ibrahim noted that he and his sister had long been advocates for stray animals.

Attendees were treated to a plant-based lunch featuring dishes such as mushroom biryani, daal kababs, and siwaiyan.

Vegan lunch items served to participants seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

Following the lunch break, social activists Hafeez Baloch and Akhtar Rasool led a session titled 'Who Feeds Karachi?'. They discussed the traditional cultivation of vegetables and fruits in Karachi, particularly in the Malir district, and explained how rapid urbanisation and climate change were threatening this vital ecosystem.

Social activists Hafeez Baloch (right) and Akhtar Rasool (left) seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

Social activist and classical dancer Sheema Kirmani spoke about the benefits of household remedies, sharing her personal experiences and noting that Western medicine is increasingly recognising the value of home remedies due to the side effects of allopathic medicine.

Social activist and classical dancer Sheema Kirmani (right) and one of the organisers Zoha Alvi (left) seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter

The event concluded with performances by folk artist Bhagat Bhoora Lal and his group, who entertained the participants with their vibrant performance.

Folk performers Bhagat Bhoora Lal and his group seen in this image taken at the VegFest Mela on June 8, 2024.— Reporter