Vegfest is a series of different festivals across the UK. It showcases some of the best vegan businesses across the country, and is 100% animal product and cruelty free. You can buy so many different things there – most importantly food, shoes and beauty products. It started as a bazaar in Bristol under the name of “Bristol Vegan Fayre”, then expanded to other famously liberal/diverse/eco-friendly towns like Brighton and London. This year was only the third annual London festival, and me and the Royal Holloway Vegetarian and Vegan Society went to check it out.
The main attraction for most people is the food stands. Vegans find it difficult to shop in mainstream supermarket, as not only is it difficult to avoid meat, but many vegetarian products contain ingredients that come from dairy and eggs. Vegans can’t eat milk or eggs, which means lots of tasty treats are forbidden – especially cakes, biscuits and unhealthy junk food treats. Vegfest brings all the best under one roof, and many shops from across the country sold their food to delighted customers.
As well as this, there are talks by notable people involved with vegan and animal activism, who hope to inspire listeners. There’s also nutritionists, cooks and even bodybuilders, who advise people on how to be vegan and still eat a balanced diet. You could also witness a live cooking demonstration, which proved very popular! This year’s London Vegfest was bigger than ever, and included a cinema that screened films such as Cowspiracy, which has only just come out. This film seeks to highlight how terrible meat farming and production is for the environment.
To lighten the mood, you could also see a number of musicians and comedians. When we were there, a trio of guys were playing some upbeat jazz music, which was really catchy and fun to dance to! There have also been comedians frequently performing at London Vegfest. Last year, there was Carl Donnelly, who has appeared on national radio like Kerrang! radio station. This year, the headline comedian was Andrew O’Neill, who has appeared on the BBC2 panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
So, onto the juicy bit! There was lots of choice for vegans, including some really great vegan cheese, and a worryingly convincing vegan sausage. Takeaway food, restaurant food, street food, cupboard food, fridge food and snacks were all available, so if you needed to stock up, there was plenty of opportunity to do that. You could also find a huge variety of vegan beauty products, including some strong-smelling perfumes. There were also clothes and furniture merchants aimed at vegans – i.e. non-leather products. They also sold some pretty cool t-shirts. Finally, there were many animal charities (like Cats Protection) there. Amnesty International also had a stand, but it was empty. I think people care far more about animals than they do people, sometimes.
The atmosphere was very lively, to put it politely. It was, but it was also far too crowded and claustrophobic. It got very difficult to breathe, what with all the cooking that was going on, and how tightly packed in everyone was. That said, it was great to see so many different kinds of people there – from toddlers to the elderly, black and white, families, teenagers, etc. All there for the same thing – enjoying good, guilt free vegan products. The best bit about the festival was probably the amount of free samples on offer. There were so many tasters of delicious products that you could probably fill up on those alone, if you took one from every stall.
The good news is, if you don’t live near London, you can go to another Vegfest closer to home. There are Vegfests in Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, and Scotland, as well as a few other locations in the UK. With tickets at just £6.50 for students, it’s a bargain! You never know, it might help you make that switch to tasty veganism.
Image from: http://beautifulheartrawkitchen.co.uk/2014/10/vegfest-london-september-2014/