Downtown Stockton’s HATCH Workshop hosted Vegan Soulstice, a vegan market, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Organized by husband-and-wife James and Bibi Binder, the pop-up market is 100 percent cruelty-free and plant-based and welcomes non-vegans and the vegan-curious to partake in the food, drinks, music and the vibe. Scheduled every third Saturday, the market hosts vegan food and drink vendors as well as arts and crafts by local artists.

Gilbert Navarro eats a vegan Quesabirria taco during Vegan Soulstice Market at HATCH Workshop in Stockton on Jan. 21, 2023. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

“A friend of mine told me about this market like a year ago, and I really enjoyed the food and music here.”

Gilbert Navarro, Stockton resident and art enthusiast

Navarro said his most favorite part about the market is the variety of vendors it hosts. “It’s not the same things over and over. I see different artists and artwork every time I come here,” Navarro added.

The Jan. 21 market hosted vegan food vendors such as Comida De Jen, Plant n Soul, Gems Made by Rubie, Cuco Etc., La Espiga de Oro, sauTAYed as well as local artists such as Jacqueline Bahnsen, Kamari Ogans and many others.

“At first, it started off as a hobby,” said Jennifer Vasquez, owner of Comida De Jen, about her vegan food business. “I became vegan, and I love cooking, and I just wanted to share my creations with my community and eventually, it grew into a business.” Vasquez added that her favorite part about hosting her pop-up at the Vegan Soulstice was watching people’s reactions as they tried her food.

A barbecue parfait served with cornbread muffin is one of the many delights served at Vegan Soulstice Market on Jan. 21, 2023. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Vegan Soulstice was the only vegan market that stayed open through the pandemic, said Rubie Rodriguez, who sells vegan cookies across the Bay Area and in Central Valley. “This is a great place for vegans,” she said.

For some Stockton residents, the market has helped find a community. Gabriel Villapudua and his girlfriend Alexis Felix discussed their favorite food at the market as they waited in line to order some po’boys.

Gabriel Villapudua samples a vegan chocolate chip cookie and snickerdoodle cookie from Gems Made by Rubie during the Vegan Soulstice Market at HATCH Workshop in Stockton on Saturday. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

“My girlfriend has a sensitive stomach, so we like to come out here for food and support vegan vendors and local artists,” Villapudua said. “We come out here so often that we call them [vendors] friends now; we have built a community,” Felix added.

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.