The weekend soon came around and Vegfest 2016 London was here. The event took place over Saturday and Sunday showcasing a wide range of food stalls, activist talks and cookery demos. Aimed at all ages, Vegfest included a Teen Zone, a MeetUp lounge, Kids Area and Vegan Health Summit. The festival itself was spread across two floors and Level 1 was the real winner. With over hundreds of organisations taking part, a whopping 250 stalls were on show. Amongst the now household names of Oatly, Koko and Nakd, we had a chance to sample delicious new foods, witness the amazing work sanctuaries and charitable organisations do as well as join a wide range of clubs and societies.
The highlight however had to be samples; they were everywhere! We tried an array of dairy free alternatives such as Sheese Cheese and Chive spread, ate our weight in raw chocolate in particular Pana Chocolate and sampled the latest products ready to hit the shelves of Tesco such as Oatly’s new creme fraiche.
Aside from the samples it was incredible to see the clothing and beauty lines scattered amongst the stalls. With every other person proudly wearing a ‘Vegan’ shirt or sporting a badge or patch, it created a huge sense of community that I’d never experienced before.
First on the agenda was visiting Ruby’s of London.Having craved a Vegan Donut for too long, my sights were set on filling that empty hole. The selection of intricate cupcakes, decadent brownies and handcrafted cakes made the choice a little harder than expected.
After composing oneself and coming to terms with the fact that I can only try one, I settled for the White Chocolate and Raspberry flavoured Donut. Chris jumped on the White chocolate bandwagon too and chose a treat covered in multicoloured sprinkles. They were a little round wheel of heaven that topped my expectations.
After feeling incredibly full from the many samples, we knew we couldn’t leave without trying something new. After setting our eyes on the ‘Temple Of Seitan’ stand we couldn’t resist not queuing. Now if queues are anything to go by, this stretched for what seemed like miles. In the UK, that can only mean one thing; the product is worth the wait. After eyeing up the menu of popcorn chicken or a strip sub with mayo and bacon, we knew we had hit the jackpot. Having never really tried Seitan before, the desire to sample the popcorn chicken grew minute by minute. After a 25 minute wait, we weren’t disappointed. Having gone two years without tasting chicken, I was delighted that something replicated such a great fast food delicacy that many plant based foodies miss. Topped with egg-free mayo and siracha, this was the tastiest mock meat I’ve ever had.
Amongst the Vegan household names, we stumbled across our much loved Oatly. The team were handing out samples of chocolate oat milk, showcasing their new line of Oat based Vanilla custard and of course the showstopper that is a new-dairy free Creamy Oat Fraiche. Never having been a huge fan of dairy or cream based foods, I was excited by this launch. As we are entering what Oatly call a ‘post milk generation’, it is clear to see that there is a demand for such products.
Feeling like I couldn’t go home empty handed, I began eyeing up my favourite products in which to purchase. The first of the haul had to be two Pana Chocolate bars. With a wide variety of flavours, I chose the ‘Nuts’ and the ‘Sour Cherry & Vanilla’ after trying many a sample or two. The packaging is delicate and beautiful, complimenting the organic qualities of the food itself. Priced at £3 each or two for £5, I couldn’t say no. Not only is this chocolate raw, it is also soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar free and Low GI. But what makes the chocolate even more unique, once inside each square is imprinted with a word or symbol, all in all reading ‘Love Your Insides’.
Already being a super fan of Nakd Bars, I set my sights on a couple of bars I had not tried before. Being nutty about peanuts, the ‘Peanut Delight’ had my name all over it. Similarly, having forgotten the delicious blend of coffee and chocolate in the ‘Caffe Mocha’ bar, I could not resist indulging once more. Amongst the usual Nakd team players, we noticed a new line called the Nakd Posh Bits. Similar to the Nakd Nibbles and Sharing bags, these fruity yet crunchy pieces were somewhat tantalising. I look forward to seeing these in my local stores in the near future.
As there is always a time and place for chocolate in my life, a hot cup of cocoa is no exception. Having sampled the Choc Shot Orange and Original flavour before, I was excited about indulging in the Coconut blend too. Not only is it great for making those chilly evenings a little more bearable, it is great for baking and drizzling over pancakes. Or, eating straight out of the bottle if that’s how you’re feeling!
Having lived in Brighton for many years previously, I had always promised myself that I would buy a perfume blend from Eden. Not only is it a cruelty free fragrance line, it creates scents that smell exactly like your high street favourites. Not wanting to spend over £50 on a small bottle of Viktor Rolf’s Flowerbomb nor more importantly support animal testing, I was finally in luck. For a tenth of the price, I purchased a small bottle of Eden’s own ‘Flowerbombs’ a pocket sized beauty for using on the go. Walking away I not only smelt great but my conscience felt a little lighter.
Unlike many, we did not attend any talks whilst visiting Vegfest. This was due to a lack of research before hand as well as wanting to make the most of seeing all the stalls in a limited timeframe due to prior plans. The beauty of the two day festival allowed visitors to tailor the experience to their own interests whether that be focused on food, healthy living or Animals Rights and Activism. Being the biggest Vegan festival in the whole of Europe, we not only felt the incredible energy throughout the event but felt part of something bigger and better than we could have ever imagined.
We will certainly be back in the future.
Bring on Vegfest 2017!