Burgers & Cupcakes, Comedy, Sea Shepherds & Music, being just some of the many highlights of the weekend!
Once we all found our way round the back streets of Olympia, into the bowels of the finely named ‘West Hall,’ thousands of Vegans, Vegetarians and Veg Curious, came together to enjoy numerous free samples, pick up great show offers, learn about various Animal rights appeals, and much more besides! Across this fine, late summer weekend, there were many lovely sights and sounds, a great atmosphere, and warmth wherever you went!
The thing about Veganism is we are a friendly, welcoming crowd of like minded souls, generally happy, non-violent creatures; the beauty of Veg Fest, (in London, Brighton & Bristol) is the variety of people you’ll meet, from the hippie to the punk, from the ‘suits you sir’ to the ‘appears-to have-turned-up-in-a-bathrobe;’ it’s a wonderful cross section! We are collectively dispelling the clichés, like we just eat lentils, wear tie dye, flop about in sandals, etc., that have long plagued the Vegetarian/Vegan, in decades gone by.
In the ‘dark ages,’ & we’re talking just 20-30 years ago, there wasn’t such a great choice of products, let alone awareness! In the last 20 odd years, it’s slowly but surely becoming more mainstream to go Vegan; often you will still get a quizzical look, with amusing questions like, ‘what is a Vegan?’ & ‘do you eat wheat?’ The confused Carnivore brain there; rhyming slang gone wrong so to speak! (& just in case anyone reading this is wondering what the answers are, *rolls eyes*, a ‘Vegan’ does not consume/use/wear any animal products & yes, most of us eat wheat, except for the intolerant/gluten free!) But it’s not just silly questions we get; some comedians often poke fun at the ‘weak Veggie,’ but they clearly haven’t met Germany’s Strongest Vegan, Patrik Baboumian, who was photographed at Veg Fest, lifting a friend of mine up on one arm!
I’ve been to Brighton and Bristol Veg Fest; each one has a distinct atmosphere, sometimes crowded or heaving/buzzing with the usual sample ‘vultures’ at e.g. Vegusto, Fry’s, Sheese, Wheaty, etc., (and I’m one of them!) The thing about this weekend, was there wasn’t so much crowding; there was space to wonder about, (bump into friends & make new friends too,) but with this came the amusingly perplexed question; “what floor are we on?” as they both looked quite similar!
On Saturday afternoon, having only had a few samples so far around the place, I was feeling very hungry; I stopped by V Bites, and found I really fancied a burger, so I went for the darker one with Vegan cheese and onion, which I promptly slathered in Brown sauce and a bit of Ketchup, stuffing that merrily in my mouth as I wondered off, the onions and sauce cascading , almost falling onto the floor! It was delicious; certainly satisfying!
There were several first timers, namely Trina’s Delicacies, who I helped out for a few hours on Saturday, and Nia’s Foods; Trina is one of the stars of The Brixton Vegan Walkabout that I host every first Saturday of the month. (See www.meetup.com/londonvegan for details!) There is a lovely variety of delights to be found south of the river, e.g. Saba’s Ethiopian Stall, The Vegan Tart, Taza Falafal, Grande Doubles Jamaican place, & of course Ms Cupcake!
Me & Trina, at the end of day one!
Trina and Nia both competed in the Brixton Bake Off back in late April this year; they may not have won, (there’s always next year girls!) but Veganism certainly won that day, as my friends The Vegan Tart (www.thevegantart.co.uk) took Best Savoury and Best in Show! Brixton is a little Vegan Village in the making!
Trina’s Delicacies are delicate, not too sweet; she makes up her own recipes and is often trying out new things, including a sweet potato and oat slice (featured at Brixton a couple months back) that you could say was the ‘healthy’ option! So, which of these flavours intrigue you? Passion fruit, Vanilla, Plum, Apple crumble, Berries & Basil, Banana Sundae, Chocolate, Peanut butter; and those are just the cupcakes! There were several cakes including Chocolate topped with Bananas, and Red Velvet; and there was a delectable pile of gluten free Chocolate Brownies, just screaming ‘eat me!’ (They featured melt in the mouth chocolate drops!)
Trina was also the only person selling tea; I heard there was perhaps another stall doing a bit of coffee, but there was a high demand for tea and cake! It was a great challenge she met, baking all those fine cakes for such a big busy event; if you didn’t get to try any of her ‘Delicacies’ over the weekend, (or you didn’t make it to Veg Fest!) do get yourselves down to Brixton Station Road sometime; she’s there most Saturday’s! Or get online;
@TrinasUK & http://www.trinasdelicacies.com
Nia’s Foods has only been in operation for about 5 or 6 months, but already she’s been at several great events and markets, including The Vegan Pledge and The Brixton Bake Off. What’s especially good about her ‘treats’ is they are gluten and Soya free, as she herself is intolerant. I first tried a donut back in Brixton and it was just divine, as was the ‘Dirty’ chocolate donut I had on Sunday, with a crumbly lovely texture and two wee jelly worms; they are baked as opposed to fried, which sort of makes them healthier too!
We chatted for a bit, she had plenty still to sell and it was quieter upstairs so I was thinking I’d wonder off and mention her downstairs, but I passed by only about half an hour or so later, to find she’d almost sold out! This was only about half way through the day; she could quite easily have packed up early, enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and joined us in the pub later! She is based in Battersea and can be found online here;
@NiasFoods & http://www.niasfoods.co.uk
There are so many things to see and try at Veg Fest, it’s tricky to get round to everything, like the new Camden place, Cakes and Treats, whose stall I happened upon at the end of the day, with the sign ‘sorry, we’ve sold out of Cupcakes’, but there were still three impressive wedding cakes to admire and photograph, including a fine Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride cake!
For a Gothic Vegan Wedding, perhaps? 🙂
I didn’t even e.g. browse the many Veggie shoe stalls, let alone watch any of the films in the cinema corner, attend any talks, or make it to Saturday’s Award Ceremony, where my friend Sean (AKA Fat Gay Vegan) won Best Blogger!! Sean is the host of Vegan Drinks & Vegan Potluck, two of the biggest regular events of social group, London Vegan Meet Up, a thriving & ever growing community of London Vegans, that I’ve been a proud member & co-organizer of, for nearly a year and half now!
Top; LVM’s very first stall at Veg Fest Above; Sean and Me at The Beconsfield pub 🙂
So, I had made a point to see the comedy on Sunday afternoon; so, with a dirty donut in hand, and a filthy friend by my side, I did catch the great gigglefest of Lucy Porter’s set, followed by, later in the day, the fab ‘like-a-mini-rock-gig’ set of the lovely Andrew O’Neill, who I’d first seen in Brighton earlier this year. Lucy Porter was very sweet, exclaiming how she often has rough gigs (hen/stag do’s, etc.,) but she found us to be the friendliest crowd she’d had, as we all ‘love Vegetables;’ at the start, she wondered how many of us were Vegan, & a sea of arms went up, then she admitted to being a lapsed Vegan, joined by just two or so arms in the air!
Top; Lucy Porter Above; Andrew O’Neill
One of the advertised comedians unfortunately didn’t make it to the UK, let alone Veg Fest; Jamie Kilstein couldn’t make it, as there was an issue with his visa! So Andrew O’Neill filled the 5pm slot with his punk/metal infused whimsy, a penchant for transvestitism, and great ‘Vegan’ jokes, with a particular bit about Vegusto, using a large cocktail stick, or numerous disguises, to hoover up the otherwise prohibitively expensive Vegan cheese!
He featured some jokes he does for children’s gigs, which are actually naughtier than his adult material! He did a lovely rendition of a heavy metal/death metal type song, you know, where the ‘singer’ screams in a demonic deep voice, ‘I WANNNT TOOOO KIIILLLL!!’ and such like, which doesn’t really work as a love song, haha! He also has a lovely way of getting the whole audience involved, namely wrapping up the set by getting half the room to stamp, and half the room to clap, and at first we weren’t quite sure what it was, but at a certain point we all heard the first beats of We Will Rock You he’d got us to perform, which was nice!
Towards the end of the day, I wondered by the Sea Shepherd (www.seashepherd.org.uk) stall and saw Andrew O’Neill trying on a fine black shirt with their logo in the top right corner; he whipped off his top a few times, revealing several more tattoos, and then a lady from Vegusto came by and gave him a little pile of complementary cheese! I had a brief nice chat with him and he’s performing in London again soon; details here > http://www.andrewoneill.co.uk
Andrew O’Neill and Me!
So, as the weekend was coming to a close, I made my way round, enjoying yet more samples and buying the odd thing too; there were good offers at V Bites (formerly Redwood, if you were wondering); Pudology, for yummy divine pots of coconut, with Chocolate, Chocolate Orange and Lemon; Plamil, for lovely chocolate bars, spreads & drops; and some guys were handing out free packs of Dees Traditional Vegan Sausages, which feature Pea Protein and Irish Seaweed, which do not contain soya or wheat! They are very nice indeed!
In one corner there had been a great children’s area, featuring songs, the chance to make a creature out of vegetables and a pirate, often seen wondering about the place! As I wondered along, by the main performance stage, I heard lovely music, saw people dancing in the aisles, and then noticed a dear friend of mine in the audience. I sat with him, as Macka B began singing ‘Wha Me Eat’, a lovely, chilled, catchy tune about everything us Vegans can eat, in response to the ultimate, perennial silly question! This was followed by a song about good vibrations, then ending with a tribute to Bob Marley, un-phased by the ruddy overhead announcement that Veg Fest was now closed; there was a great energy and atmosphere in that place, a perfect close to the end of the day…
Macka B 🙂
So, what do a bunch of vegans, who’ve been stuffing themselves with fake meats and cake all day, do after closing time? Why, we go to pub across the road, till late, of course!
Here’s looking forward to next years trio of Veg Fests in 2014!! 🙂 Details will be found here >> http://vegfest.co.uk/
And I can’t think of a better way to end this piece, other than with a link to ‘Wha Me Eat!’ Enjoy! 🙂
All the best, Bye for now,
Rambling Vegan Fox