The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

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Foodies, animal lovers flock to Somerville vegan market

Yaakov Aldrich
A sign advertising the Vegan Market stands outside the entrance. The market was started in 2018 as a way to bring the vegan community together in a more intimate manner.

Vegans from across New England converged on Somerville’s Center for Arts at the Armory community center Sept. 16 for the Vegan Market, forming a temporary community hub for foodies and animal lovers in the heart of Boston. Vendors at over 20 colorful stalls sold boutique clothing, handmade jewelry, bouquets of fresh flowers and lots of food. Streams of visitors passed by the hot pink vegan food truck outside to wander around the cool, dark auditorium, which echoed with music and overflowed with the rich scents of pastries, plant-based barbecue, cashew mac-n-cheese and more. 

“I started the market in 2018 because I thought we needed more regular vegan events outside of the longstanding Veg Fests that happen once a year,” said Katie Upchurch, the founder of the Vegan Market. “My favorite part of the market is offering the opportunity to bring the vegan community together in one place and in a more intimate setting than the usual vegan festivals offer. I also love being able to eat all the best vegan food for an entire day; I know others must enjoy that too.” 

The market itself had a simple setup: a ring of tables stood in the auditorium’s center, selling vegan candles, jewelry and soap, surrounded by another circle of food stalls that hugged the auditorium’s corners. A greeter sat in the hallway outside, and the scent of fresh-cut flowers welcomed visitors from a stall just beside the auditorium door. 

“I think having food markets like this is good, and supporting the food vendors especially is great,” said Lauren Barnhill, the owner of Sunspell Flora, as she conducted business over the flower-laden table at the auditorium’s entrance. “I think [events] with vegan foods are amazing, just like showing people that it’s delicious, nutritious, accessible food. It’s really important.”

Tables of various vegan foods fill the room. Along with vegan food, vendors sold items such as clothing, jewelry and fresh flowers. (Yaakov Aldrich)

Several Northeastern students, including members of Cruelty-Free Northeastern, or CFN, visited the Vegan Market Saturday.

“My favorite part? I want to say the food, but I think just as much of it was seeing the community there,” said Sydney D’Argenio, a fourth-year environmental and sustainability sciences major and president of CFN. “Seeing all of the people there and knowing that this is a community of such like-minded people who are really compassionate was great.” 

The rainy weather couldn’t keep the crowds away from the Vegan Market. They spilled through the double doors to settle at the bar with a drink, or wander Tthe aisle between the tables, hungry and curious.

“I would also just like to see more vegan mixers as well, like meeting more people who are into animal ethics,” said Ryan Baylon, a third-year philosophy and environmental studies major and CFN member. “Meeting more people who care would be really cool. The market at Somerville was a bit of that; I met a lot of cool new people.”

The crowd in the Center for Arts at the Armory’s auditorium was diverse, skewing toward the young and the alternative. Straight-edge band patches blossomed over creaking faux-leather jackets, and PETA stickers glittered on the Nalgene water bottles that swung from hands and tote bags on the market floor. Silver rings, neon bandannas and dyed hair were fashion essentials for this event.

Visitors to the vegan market were all eager to talk about their favorite food stall in interviews, holding up their steaming takeaway boxes and recommending the vendor in question. Their enthusiasm matched the palpable hunger of the crowd for a stronger community, a wider array of plant-based food options and more spaces to share in Boston’s vegan culture.

“We’re both vegan,” said Chris Pacejo, who was browsing the food stalls with his wife, Jackie Pacejo. “And we love checking out any vegan event.” Jackie agreed, pointing to the table for Clarke’s Cakes and Cookies that they had just come from as her favorite vendor so far. “Yeah, I haven’t been to one in a while — a vegan event,” she said. “So this seems like an exciting place to be.”

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