Thursday, 20 October, 2016
Abigail Stevens lists the top ten things you can see and do at VegFest London, which is returning to London Olympia on 22-23 October.
I’m a sucker for vegan festivals. I’ve been vegan for just short of four years, and I’ve been to a staggering number of festivals up and down the country during this time. After a while you pick up a few tricks, my favourites including taking a pull-along trolley for heavy purchases, getting cash prior to the event and heading there early. What you can’t always prepare yourself for is the sheer amount of stuff at these events. Vegan festivals can be overwhelming! If you’re heading to London Vegfest this weekend and don’t want to miss anything out, I’ve done the prep for you and created a list of the top 10 things to see and do. I hope you agree with my idea of the perfect Vegfest!
PRO-TIP: bring a re-usable tote bag (or five) for all the amazing things you’ll nab.
1) Eat some delicious food
Vegan festivals are well known for their great caterers and a variety of goods on offer, and this Vegfest will be no different. You will be able to choose from a wide variety of hot and cold food including London based Pomodoro E Basilico’s iconic Italian street food (we’ve got our eyes set on ‘The Good’ burger pictured here), indulgent baked treats from Ms Cupcake or classic hotdogs by artisan vegan cheese and meat connoisseurs Vegusto, all washed down with a pint from Vegan Trademark holders Pitfield Brewery.
2) Find a bargain
Many companies will be running exclusive offers and discounts on their products at Vegfest London. You can find a big list of them in the show guide here. If you’re a fan of Vegenaise, make sure you check out Follow Your Heart’s stand for 50% off a huge range of their products including their mayo, cheeses and VeganEgg. LemonAid will be running a mix and match offer with four bottles for a fiver, which will help wash down the London Falafel that you can pick up on a bargain buy one get one free deal! If, like us, you are tired of creating contraptions to press your tofu, you can pick up a Tofuture tofu press for the show price of £20 to make pressing your tofu easy. Finally, for the health conscious, The Coconut Company are offering buy one get one free organic coconut oil, while supplement specialists Veganicity have the same offer on all of their products.
3) Spruce up your wardrobe
If you’re running short of t-shirts to tell the world that you’re vegan, you’ve come to the right place. Even if you haven’t run out, we recommend checking out some of the clothing stalls at Vegfest London this year. Conscious Tee, Ethics & Antics, and Uncaptive have a wide variety of tees that they’ll be selling at the show. In addition to this, the ever-popular independent clothing and accessory company All Glamour No Guts will be dropping a new design and offering some exclusive show offers on their current line. We’ll also be visiting the TeenVGN stand for some adorable merch to support their organisation, which offers a safe and educational space for young vegans.
4) Learn more about pro-intersectional veganism
Are you familiar with the term ‘intersectionality’? It’s the belief that all oppressions are interlinked, and in order to dismantle animal oppression, we need to work together to dismantle other forms of oppression too. On the Sunday of London Vegfest you can find a variety of pro-intersectional talks covering a wide range of social justice issues. Our own digital expert Ali Ryland will be presenting a talk at 12:00pm in Talks Room 5, Level 3, about how to promote this approach within your vegan community, online and off.
5) Polish up on your kitchen skills
Why learn how to cook when you could be eating? It’s a good question, but unfortunately there can’t be a Vegfest to feed us every meal time. That’s why they have many different chefs come to teach you the important skills in preparing delicious plant-based meals at home. We’re definitely making time for Nishma Shah’s banana-themed cookery demo on Saturday at 12pm, Level 1. Her Vegan Trademarked company Shambhus cater for many different events, and even Russell Brand! You can also see Mel Rogers from the Kindness Kitchen demonstrate some vegan cheese wizardry (we’ve tried it before and it’s jaw dropping stuff) on Sunday at 2pm.
6) Be inspired by vegan athletes
On the Saturday you can see speeches by some of your favourite vegan athletes covering a range of sports from snooker to cycling. Those sessions include a speech by marathon-running extraordinaire Fiona Oakes and an FAQ panel from the creators of VeganFitness.com. Towards the end of Saturday you’ll have a chance to talk to some of the cyclists who will have just cycled from our offices in Birmingham to Vegfest (an impressive 125 miles) to demonstrate the health benefits of plant based diets. Lead by Mick Waller, catch the Tour de Vegan cyclists panel at 5pm in Talks Room 4, Level 3.
7) Engage with other activists
Saturday will also host an Activists Summit on Level 3 where a variety of inspiring vegan activists will present talks on their chosen subjects. From normalising veganism to emotive advocacy, you can learn more about funding grassroot groups, making an impact locally, generating activism through art and initiating effective dialogue with non-vegans. It’s the perfect place to pick up tips on how to become active in promoting veganism in your day to day life.
8) Meet new friends at the London Vegan Meetup Lounge
With free membership and free events every week, London Vegan Meetup has rapidly become the world’s largest vegan social group (now over 6,000 members). Open to everybody, the group offers a friendly introduction to veganism for the vegan-curious, and a supportive environment for existing vegans. At Vegfest, London Vegan Meetup will be hosting the London Vegan Meetup Lounge (West Hall, Level 1 – next to the Main Stage). It’s the perfect place to take a break from the buzz of the festival, relax, and enjoy food and drink from the show’s many exhibitors. You can meet local vegans and ask about veganism around London, and even play board games. Casual game of Jenga, anyone?
9) Learn more about plant-based nutrition
London Vegfest will be home to a Vegan Health Summit, featuring some of the finest minds in vegan health and nutrition. This includes our very own Vegan Society dietitian Heather Russell, who on Saturday at 1pm will be delivering a session in the Mature Zone, Level 1, called ‘Plant-strong vegans – how to look after your muscles and bones in later life’. You can catch her again on Sunday at 12pm at the summit in Talks Room 2, Level 3, where she’ll be answering common questions about plant-based diets.
Yes, we need some shameless self-promotion too! At our stall you’ll be able to easily browse our exciting range of merchandise, from recipe books to water bottles and coffee mugs that’ll keep you warm for the oncoming winter. You can also become a member and win some great goodies: for the first 50 members who sign up on each day, we’ll be giving away a Vegan Society tote bag bursting with Vegan Trademark holder products.
We’ll also be asking you to sign our petition, while you can meet our team, ask vegan-related questions and learn more about what we do as a charity.
London Vegfest takes place 22-23 October at London Olympia. Tickets are still on sale now and will be available on the door, but get there early to avoid queues. See you there!
By Abigail Stevens