Val, Carter, Winner, Dinshah
UPDATE: Food-development pioneer Safiya Carter has agreed to step in as a judge at Friday’s Philly Vegan Awards. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Chef Mark Mebus will be required to be at 20th Street Pizza this Friday night. We welcome Safiya to the judging team and thank her for participating! More info follows below.

Returning for the first time since 2019, the Philly Vegan Awards (PVAs) will be held at the Friends Center at 15th and Cherry Streets on Friday, June 30, 2023. For the first time ever, the PVAs will include the popular Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly contest that grew out of Vance Lehmkuhl’s “V for Veg” column in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Today the organizers have announced the panel of judges who will select the 2023 vegan-cheesesteak champion. After a week (June 15 – June 23) of online voting, the three top vote-getters will be eligible as finalist to supply samples of their sandwiches at the Friends Center on June 30. Four judges will taste and rank their favorites. Those judges are:

  • Angela Val – President and CEO of Visit Philadelphia. Val has led some of the organization’s most successful campaigns, including With Art Philadelphia, Philly 360, Philadelphia Neighborhoods and the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package. A Drexel graduate, Val lives in Point Breeze.
  • Safiya Carter – An early pioneer in vegan food development, Safiya began creating new plant-based foods over 40 years ago. Her products have been sold in major grocery chains, natural foods stores and foodservice/restaurants throughout the country.
  • Jeff Winner – 25-year music and film producer. Jeff Winner’s current projects include the EMMY®Award-Winning animated NETFLIX series, ‘The Cuphead Show.’ Mr. Winner also serves as the ‘mayor’ of Old Cilly on facebook & instagram, where aficionados of Old City keep tabs on the neighborhood.
  • Freya Dinshah – President of the American Vegan Society (AVS). In 1960, with her husband Jay Dinshah, Freya built the AVS. She produced the first vegan cookbook in the US, The Vegan Kitchen, teaching readers how to make vegan cheeses and alt-meats.


Beginning at 7 pm at the Friends Center, local vendors of vegan foods will showcase their offerings. Judges will taste and make their selections at this time. The awards ceremony will follow in the Meeting Room, celebrating the vegan-cheesesteak winners as well as the best of Philadelphia’s vegan scene. Tickets are on sale now at

As in previous years (2017 and 2019) the Philly Vegan Awards are presented by the American Vegan Society as part of its mission to raise awareness of vegan eating and vegan living. Founded in 1960, headquartered in Greater Philadelphia, and operating the American Vegan Center in Old City, AVS is the nation’s longest-running vegan organization.