Ohio State students and members of the Columbus community can “veg out” this Saturday at the first Columbus VegFest.

The event focuses on the health benefits of plant-based diets and will feature several workshops presenting on topics related to veganism, as well as several vendors.

John Stacy, an Ohio State alumnus, started the event with his wife Jennifer. The idea of hosting VegFest came to them when they attended similar events, but were unable to find one in Columbus.

“My wife is a vegan, and I’m mostly plant-based vegetarian, so we went to a couple of events around the country and thought Columbus really needed something like this,” Stacy said.

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was featured in the 2011 documentary “Forks Over Knives,” in which he claimed to heal people of various physical ailments through a plant-based diet.

Maggie Fisher, fourth-year in music performance and member of the Vegetarian and Vegan Society at OSU, said she is attending VegFest to explore the health benefits of the diet.

“I’m excited to learn more about the health aspect of veganism, because I am vegan for ethical reasons, but I feel much healthier since I went vegan,” she said.

According to Stacy, the majority of the vendors were chosen based on healthiness, and will include Portia’s Café, Krazy Kraut Fermented Foods and Red Lotus Foods. All food offered at the event will be free of animal ingredients.

Stacy said along with educating people about plant-based diets, he wants to use this event as an opportunity to give back to the Columbus community. Reusable grocery bags will be offered for $5, with the proceeds to benefit local vegan nonprofits Vegan Shift and Sunrise Sanctuary.

Stacy encourages attendees to fill those bags with purchases from vendors during the festival.

The event is being funded almost entirely by the Stacy’s, making it free to the public.

“There’s no charge to come in, there’s no charge to be in the workshops, although of course the vendors are selling stuff,” Stacy said. “Thankfully most of the speakers are donating their time.”

There will be 14 local experts presenting throughout the day on topics related to nutrition, environmentalism and animal activism.

The Stacy’s said they have the goal of informing students and the Columbus community about plant-based diets, and Fisher said she thinks the event will educate attendees about the complexities of veganism.

“I think this is a great way to show Columbus and show our community that veganism is multi-faceted, that there’s a lot of different aspects to it, it’s not just what you eat but it’s also a lifestyle choice,” Fisher said.

VegFest will be held on Saturday at the Northland Performing Arts Center at 4411 Tamarack Blvd. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.