On the final weekend in March, the Brighton Centre saw a record 12,000 people pass through its doors in order to attend one of Europe’s biggest vegan festivals – Vegfest Brighton. We were lucky enough to attend the festival on the Sunday and sample some truly delectable vegan food as well as learn about a whole range of vegan products and charities.
With 15 specialist vegan caterers and nearly 200 stalls, there was certainly a lot to look at. Upon walking through the entrance, we were drawn to the Hemp Expo which took place on the ground floor. The Expo showcases the many uses and benefits of using Hemp in everything from building to clothing and even cooking, and we were blown away by the sheer magnitude of options from this one plant (you can build a house with it, come on!). After being thoroughly educated and having to resist buying all the eco-friendly hemp clothing (which isn’t as weird as it sounds, honest), we moved on to the other stalls.
One of the main struggles people have with going vegan is giving up dairy, one of the main drawbacks of which is giving up chocolate (for us, anyway). However, there were so many options for dairy free chocolate that we didn’t know where to look! And even if you don’t like dark chocolate then there were “milk chocolate” options too. It’s safe to say we sampled quite a lot of them, and we can assure that they’re all pretty great. In fact, a few of them were much better than regular old Dairy Milk any day (Coco Caravan and Ombar were our favourites).
Of course one of the main aspects of Vegfest was the vegan food on offer. We treated ourselves to a mock hoi sin duck sushi wrap from Happy Maki which was amazing and a veggie burger from V Bites, a local vegan café that specializes in mock meat products and a must visit for any vegans visiting Brighton. We were spoilt for choice, and other foods we could have chosen included Caribbean Caterers, vegan Doner Kebabs from Beelzebab and a plethora of other healthy (and not-so-healthy) treats. Another thing we were really impressed with that gets a special mention was the vegan cheese from Tyne Chease, for making the first vegan cheese we can actually see ourselves enjoying.
Of course with the vegan lifestyle comes a whole host of ethical and lifestyle choices, so we weren’t surprised to see stalls from charities such as Animal Aid and the Sab the Cull Association, who work to “sabotage” unethical badger culls.
As well as the stalls there was a load of events including the UK Vegan Comedy Festival, the New Product Showcase Competition, the Party Political Conference, which we unfortunately missed on Saturday, and the Global Food Sustainability Conference on Sunday.
Overall, it’s safe to say that Vegfest isn’t only about food, but the vegan lifestyle and ethical concerns that come with the heightened knowledge of where our food comes from. After the success of Vegfest Brighton 2015, the organisers said:
“We’re absolutely over the moon at the attendance figures of this year’s Brighton event. It has always been our ultimate aim to convince the general public to go vegan through our events. In years gone by, our combination of food, comedy and music has worked a treat in making veganism more accessible to the public. Nowadays, however, going vegan has actually got really sexy, and we believe that there has never been a better time than right now to up our emphasis on vegan education and put out a consistent message to the public to go vegan.”
We would totally agree with this sentiment and we think that vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike can all learn something from going to Vegfest events. We certainly did!
Here are some of the photos we took at the event:
If you missed it this time round and can’t wait until Vegfest Brighton 2016, you can head over to their website to see other events across the country and find out more about the vegan lifestyle.
By Alice Hudson