As fond lovers of all foods vegan, coming across an ad for VegFestUK London on Facebook some weeks ago gave my friend and I a similar reaction as a perfect birthday gift. The ad promised us hundreds of stalls presenting vegan goodies, copious amounts of food, a wide selection of speeches as well as the company of thousands of fellow vegans. The event was held in Olympia London this weekend and is said to have gathered together 13500 visitors and 1400 workers to discuss, experiment and engage with the vegan lifestyle.
My friend and I visited VegFest on Sunday and were overwhelmed by the scents of all kinds of foods coming from the restaurateurs’ and caterers’ stalls. The festival attracted several businesses crafting vegan delights with various culinary traditions in mind; you could find goodies such as pizzas with vegan cheese (or Gary, however you prefer), sushi-burritos, lentil burgers, creamy dhal, cupcakes with edible glitter and seitan döner. My friend and I ended up eating burgers from Pomodoro E Basilico, an Italian-inspired eatery based in London. I took a chance and tried out jackfruit for the first time whereas my friend devoured a seitan burger with cashew cheese and garlic mayo.
After our quick burger-brunch, we were ready to conquer the day. However, our first pit stop came fast, as we remembered the free gift vouchers which were handed to us at the entrance. With these vouchers both of us received two bottles of ChocShot, which I had to try out already -it makes a delicious hot chocolate when paired with almond milk!
Our tour around the stalls was probably one of the most exciting adventures I’ve had as a vegan food enthusiast. We encountered several vegan cheeses and meats, plant milks, egg-free mayonnaises, nut butters, raw bars, tofu presses, chocolates and cake mixes. Besides the abundance of these popular food items, the festival also gave us a chance to try out coconut jerky, organic gin, tiger nuts, hemp protein shakes, seaweed caviar and candy bars undifferentiable from their Nestlé counterparts.
After going taste-testing everything at the fair, we ran back to our favourite stalls –there were some items we just needed to have in our kitchen cupboards. I ended up splurging Sheese’s coconut and soy-based cheddars and feta, Nuts in Ya Mouth’s raw nut mayonnaises, Gnawsome’s chocolate cake mix, TerraVegane’s omelette powder and mac and cheese pouch, and Oatly’s oat-based crème fraiche.
After the three-hour food extravaganza the two of us had, we were happy to go back home with our grocery hauls. Both of us found some new favourites and gained more motivation to further explore all the new products that are made available for vegans. Luckily for us, most of the companies also have online stores, making it easy to access vegan alternatives even if your next-door Tesco doesn’t stock a variety of vegan specialities.
What I will take away from the event is not only the abundance of new tastes and flavours, but also the conscious atmosphere we experienced yesterday. Everyone who we talked to at the event had this sense of genuine excitement of changing the world to the better one choice at a time. Being surrounded with so many other people who do their best to consume as ethically and ecologically as possible really inspired me to keep on engaging with likeminded people and to stay positive, as conscious consumerism is growing as we speak.
I wish you all the best with your search for inspiration,