Oktoberfest is an annual German festival that's long been celebrated with large amounts of beer and meat consumption. In fact, to throw a quality Oktoberfest, you really need only two ingredients: steins full of easy-drinking German beer and a bevy of German sausages, or wursts, some of which combine veal, liver, smoked pork, beef and blood inside snappy skins made from animal intestines (schnitzel, another common dish, is fried tenderized meat — yum!).
So imagine how weird it sounds at first to say the words “vegan Oktoberfest” and how odd a billboard advertising the new Santa Monica event happening Oct. 4 would appear to anyone accustomed to washing down their Oktoberfest brews with traditional meat-filled Bavarian dishes.
But in vegan-loving Los Angeles — also home to the first-ever Vegan Beer and Food Festival — an animal-free Oktoberfest not only makes sense but was almost inevitable.
Though some beer utilizes animal products as part of the filtration process, most are vegan by default, making the assortment of specialty food vendors the main difference at the world’s first Vegan Oktoberfest.
Focusing on already vegan German favorites such as pretzels, potato pancakes and sauerkraut, food trucks including Sage, Urban Pie, Green Truck and Beyond Meat are preparing themed menus to be consumed with beers from the nearly 20 local breweries (Hangar 24, Golden Road, Angel City and Modern Times) already confirmed. Southern Fried Vegan is even adding a special beer brat to its menu, which will come loaded with kraut on a pretzel bun.
While some have been calling it the “wurst” idea ever, the Vegan Oktoberfest will be similar to most other festive Oktoberfest celebrations — at least when you get past the meatless food, which carnivores probably will be able to do pretty easily once they start drinking. Thus, live polka bands (plus a modern pop cover band), stein-lifting contests and beer maidens walking through the oceanfront festival grounds in authentic Bavarian garb.
For $45, you get a ticket good for five hours of unlimited beer tasting, plus a souvenir stein by which to remember this historic, plant-based Oktoberfest.
For more information on the Vegan Oktoberfest, visit veganoktoberfest.com.