I spent this weekend at the Veg Fest 2015, and let me tell you – I ate a lot. I couldn’t control myself – the glutton monster had taken over me. My eyes were bigger than my ever expanding stomach as I wandered through what felt like miles of stalls with a plethora of free samples and an endless supply of toothpicks. It was, in short, heavenly. I wanted to keep a keen, critical eye, on the whole experience. But any attempt to do so was quickly blotted out by the pounds of organic dark chocolate I consumed, and the fifteen bricks of vegan cheese sitting in my stomach. I did mange to note some things before I went into a food coma, however.
Firstly, I was surprised by how diverse the experience was. When most people think of vegetarians, vegans, or particularly ethical vegans, one immediately conjures a Gwenyth Paltrow look-a-like. Slim pretty ‘hippies’ with long hair and flowing clothes eating kale and men with beards talking about Ken Kesey… They were there, oh they were there.. but there were so many other people there too. Families with babies, couples, groups of young teenagers, even a few elderly folks dotted around. It was a very open and inclusive event, even for my plus one – a meat eater!
We filled up on free samples, and then got some lunch. My friend Genna went for vegan pasta while I had a mushroom pie from Mr. Nice Pie (he’s got a great logo!) — a bit unadventurous of us, but both meals were delicious and we decided we needed to walk off the food. Unfortunately, the only place to walk invariably led to more food. I’m not complaining, but it was hard to keep track of what I’d already eaten and what I still wanted to eat. That being said, the things that stood out as good remain in my head, as well as the bad. I was never a fan of steak, but the fake steak was really unpleasant.
Eventually we decided it’d be time for a talk. We caught the tail end of the documentary Cowspiracy, which I recommend everyone see! It reminded me of the reason I became a vegetarian eight years ago. Then we sat down to listen to Victoria Moran – a writer and speaker on veganism and spirituality. At first she seemed to be playing the ‘American-hating-America-trying-to-win-over-Londoners’ but that gave way to her speech on the MEND …shall I say, lifestyle? MEND stands for Mediation, Exercise, Nutrition, and Detoxification (I couldn’t remember that last one and had to look it up…) which all sounded pretty great, even if her delivery was couched in a purposeful style.
I am not a hippie – however much I wanted to be one about five years ago. I really like coffee and my iPhone and the thought of mediating makes me want to pull my hair out, but I did like what she had to say even if I wouldn’t wear it like a badge of honour, the way she did. Which leads to another thing I noticed…
A lot of the jewellery / accessories / clothing were definitely aimed at, well, not me. Tons of heavy wooden necklaces, big green trousers, lots of tyedye… Most of the non-food stalls were geared towards people who lived a lifestyle that visually emulated their vegatrianism/veganism. I don’t visually emulate anything, except someone who shops at TK Maxx…
There were a few things that stood out – an adorable I Wear it Better bag by Viva La Vegan, some dainty silver jewellery, and soap that didn’t smell like lavender or patchouli. But other than that, I wasn’t wowed. Luckily, I went back to the food floor and Genna and I bought some cupcakes that were amazing (cheers, Trina’s Delicacies!), and grabbed two Essential Vegan seitan burgers for the road. We left feeling full, a bit more learned, and having decided we were going to both try and meditate every day for 30 days (I’ll let you know how it goes).
My experience at the vegetarian festival was one of your averagely dedicated vegetarian, someone whose beliefs aren’t so strong that I felt the need to go to activism tents or listen to endless information panels. I live a lifestyle that, to the best of my abilities, is good for the Earth. For those new to the scene, or vegcurious, the food stalls would definitely win them over – if not overwhelm them! All in all I enjoyed my time eating until I couldn’t see anymore, and felt the festival definitely would debunk the idea that most people have of angry vegans judging everyone else. It was inclusive, fun, inexpensive and therefore accessible.