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The Vegandale vegan food festival is set to take place in Chicago’s Grant Park this weekend, attracting diners to queue up to try the offerings of dozens of vegan vendors who travel to the festival from across the country. But, Eater Chicago reports, several of those vendors have dropped out after Vegandale organizers posted a notice that they would not be asking for any documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative test results from participants.
According to the City of Chicago’s reopening guidelines, as of August 20, 2021, confirming vaccination or negative test status is “recommended” for all public gatherings and events. If organizers are not able to confirm status, masks should be work all times that social distancing cannot be maintained. Large events in Chicago, like the recent Lollapalooza festival which saw nearly 400,000 people attending, have followed that guidance and checked vaccine cards and test results at the entry. Vegandale, however, has decided not to check its expected 18,000 attendees.
A page on the festival’s website about health protocol does encourage wearing masks while waiting in lines and ordering from vendors and asks that participants voluntarily not attend if they have tested positive within 14 days, among other provisions. However, it also makes clear there will not be checking vaccination status. “No proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to enter Vegandale festival,” it notes.
For several vendors, that has raised a red flag. At least three vendors who spoke to Eater – Liberation Donuts, Pie, Pie, Pie My Darling, and Vagabond Vegan Club – all say they’re dropping out over the refusal to check. Representatives from each of the three also reportedly told Eater that it was their understanding Vegandale’s organizers were unwilling to check vaccination records because they believe “the vaccine is not vegan.”
Representatives for Vegandale did not respond to requests for comment on the matter made by Eater or Vegetarian Times.
There are no animal ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines, though some animal-derived components may have been used in the production or development and animal testing was conducted as required by law. Nonetheless, even PETA has encouraged everyone, including vegans and animal-rights advocates, to get the vaccine if able to do so.
“The goal of being vegan and advocating for animal rights should always be to bring about positive change for animals. As long as tests on animals are a legal requirement, refusing to take a medicine on ethical grounds will not help animals who have already been used in tests or spare any the same fate in the future,” PETA’s website reads. “To keep yourself and others as fit and healthy as possible – and allow you to continue advocating for animals – please follow the advice of your health-care provider on taking a medicine.”
VeganMed, a specialty site run by medical experts offering guidance for vegans, echos that sentiment. “It’s important to remember that the COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in managing the pandemic and saving lives,” it notes. “After all, how can we continue to advocate for animal welfare if we are not fit and healthy ourselves? To this end, we stand behind the philosophy that veganism should be embraced as far as practically possible.”