The Verse’s Amy Kennedy lets us know about Brighton’s Vegfest event that happened on 23-24th March.
Vegfest is a festival that takes place across several locations in the UK annually and is one of the best ways for vegans to get together, try new food, find new vegan products and hear stories about fellow vegans activism, journeys and experiences. This year Brighton Vegfest went into its 11th year. It took place on Saturday the 23rd of March and Sunday the 24th at the Brighton Centre. This trip was my second time at Vegfest in Brighton and my third trip to Vegfest overall.
When we arrived at the festival, we were given a floor plan, a schedule for the talks and a ticket for a gift from the food section. The venue was separated by stalls downstairs, mainly food upstairs and an area for children to play and make vegan foods. There were several talk rooms separated from the main rooms and the talks covered topics from health, spirituality, activism, to things like dementia and veganism. On the first floor, we were greeted with a variety of stalls from food, clothing, artwork, gifts and cooking utensils. We were immediately aware of just how diverse the products and stalls were as we walked past vegan runners, vegan charities, CBD products and cakes all within the space of a minute.
As we walked around the first floor we became drawn into a speech that was about activism and how you can make a change offline by going to things like vigils or becoming a fox hunt saboteur. As a vegan of three years, I was already aware of these types of activism and the impact it has. But it was warming to see a group of strangers all connecting over the idea of doing more for the animals than they are currently doing. Because all the seats were filled, we only listened to 10-15 minutes of the speech before we decided to take advantage of the talks that were going on in separate rooms and more specific to certain aspects of veganism.
We went to a talk between Chas Newkey-Burden and the creator of Plantbasednews.org, one of the most well-known vegan news outlets. The talk itself had a small crowd turn out but held a lot of great discussion points and ideas surrounding veganism, journalism and the general public’s perception of veganism as a movement. Chas was very friendly and knowledgeable in his work. He often told little anecdotes which made the people in the audience laugh and reminded us that all vegans have a different story. Chas reminded me that it is important to take time to unwind as an activist. It can be difficult to see things like slaughterhouse footage daily and it is important to remind yourself you are doing enough. The talk lasted roughly forty-five minutes and finished on a period where the crowd could ask questions, mainly surrounding vegan journalism.
After we finished the talk me and my friend decided to take the trip to the second floor where there was a variety of food stalls. The festival did an incredible job of showing just how diverse the vegan diet can be. From products like cakes, pizzas, raw foods, curries, vegan cheeses, wraps and even meat replacements to premade snacks, vegan jerky, vegan cheese and various vegan drinks (including booze!). We settled on Kentucky fried Seitan as our meal of choice and took a seat in the dining area to tuck into our food. We found ourselves very happy with our choice as we enjoyed food that was once so familiar to use just without the cruelty. Granted, the instinct to watch out for a bone was one that took over, but we were very happy once we got over the similarities!