Vegfest UK, Europe’s biggest vegetarian and vegan event, hit London earlier this month. 9,000 people walked through the doors of London Olympia on the weekend of 5th and 6th October. Whether they were vegetarian, vegan, or just simply food fanatics, they all came along to explore.
The relatively large venue was spread across two floors that were packed with stalls, some of which distributed information on the work of charities, welfare and campaigning organisations; while others sold food and other items. All of which followed the same philosophy of there being no reason to be cruel to animals.
Charities ranged from The Fox Project; an ambulance service and hospital based in Kent and covering the surrounding area to help injured foxes, to Wild Futures; which aims to promote the welfare and conservation of primates within the UK and overseas.
Other charities help those who want to become or continue to have an animal free diet, TeenVGN being one of them. Set up earlier this year, founders Lauran and Kylie aim to support teenagers who go through the challenges of being vegetarian or vegan. They explained to me how young people struggle to get their friends to understand them as well as the difficulties of getting support from their parents.
TeenVGN give advice and provide information to young people as well as carrying out campaigns including ‘School Letters’ which aims to make schools across the UK provide vegetarian and vegan options .
Animal cruelty is not all about food. There was a range of different clothes and shoe shops, which of course were leather-free, and a wide range of shops selling make up and beauty products that are free of animal testing and animal products.
I found it incredibly surprising how the majority of products I use at home, whether for cleaning purposes or facial care have been tested on animals.
However a day out isn’t complete without delicious food, and VegFest definitely didn’t disappoint. From sweet potato sushi to vegan hot-dogs, the wide array of options was impressive. As I was there for both days, I found myself having a little bit of everything from everywhere, and nothing I tried let me down in taste.
There were some amazing sweet stalls, including the well -known Ms. Cupcake, based in Brixton who have recently published a vegan cake recipe book and Razzle Dazzle who make incredible dairy free ices; I would particularly recommend the mango sorbet!
Two other organisations that gave us a few minutes of their time were the very awesome Veggie Vision TV, who are a unique internet TV station for everything fabulous about veggie stuff and Planet V, who are a new online marketplace, bringing together the best in vegetarian and vegan lifestyle.
Speaking to lots of people they all felt that VegFest was welcoming for everyone, informative and helped them to feel that there is lots of support out there for vegans and vegetarians.
All together, I really enjoyed my time at VegFest, and feel like I have a much better understanding on the work that different people do to help stop animals from extinction. The food was great and the whole event promoted a sense of community. I now can’t wait until next year’s VegFest.
If you can’t get to London for the event, then fear not because VegFest is on the road and will be visiting Brighton and Bristol in 2014. Check out the VegFest website for more information.
Here are our VegFest highlights:
Words by Emily Palmer
Video by Azeem Mustafa
Photography by Azeem Mustafa and Emily Palmer