As you might know, we went to Brighton this weekend for the 2013 edition of the VegFest. Our trip was a little bit messed up with a 4 hour flight delay on Friday, so we missed our day to get to know Brighton as we were coming back on Sunday at lunch time. This also meant we would have just the Saturday to visit the VegFest. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect because it was my first VegFest. Of course I imagined it would be busy and with tons of great food, but I had no idea about how it would be. And I’m sure I’m not the best person to write about it but I still want to expose my impressions.
We went to the Hove Centre with two friends and arrived there around 1h30pm. My first reaction was “How will I walk around with baby boy?” The place was beyond crowed and I had two options: let baby walk (which seemed to be a terrible idea after one minute because there were too many people and they wouldn’t see the little one) or let him in the stroller (not good too because he wanted to walk). After trying to walk around with him in the stroller for a few minutes someone pointed the balcony upstairs as an option to stay with the little one. So my husband went there and me and our friends tried to walk around, grab some food and I was suposed to make contacts and give some business cards. I didn’t have any hopes on watching any of the talks, presentations, cookery classes, etc. There’s no way to do this with a 14 months baby with you. But I was happy to get to know some people and try tons of vegan food, but nothing was as easy as I thought.
Don’t get me wrong, the VegFest is a great opportunity to get to know vegan products, companies, to meet new people, to get information. But as many other events related to veganism, I still think it’s better for people who aren’t still vegan or are in the process of transition to veganism and for people without small kids. I’m aware that on Sunday there were many children activities and special area for kids, I just wish they would offer it on both days because there were many families with small kids there on Saturday too.
I also loved the fact that many animal rights groups were there to show people that veganism is a lot more than a diet. I’m always happy to support these groups so if you don’t know too much about some UK groups, check out Animal Aid, Viva! and The Vegan Society.
Now, the food. It was really the highlight of the event. Everything I tried was delicious. Had a snack from Titbits Catering, which also provides vegetarian cookery courses. They were serving fresh food, same as provided by their catering service. You could get one or two single pieces of a 6 piece plate. Great presentation and very tasty! Then I had a Vegan Kebab Döner from Wheaty (had the product before because we’re able to buy them in Italy) and loved it too. Wheaty products are amazing and I’m glad they’re available here. And the last thing I got, to take home, was one Ms. Cupcake strawberry and white chocolate cupcake (+ a Ferrero Rocher cupcake for the husband) and a special Estear creamy chocolate egg. I was so excited to get her treats again! I’m really a fan of Ms. Cupcake sweets and it was lovely to meet her again. I didn’t get the chance to arrive close to Redwood stall (always with a huge line but at least I can get their products shopping at iVegan) and didn’t see Fry’s (I think they were there just on Sunday and I was sad about it because I really miss their products. Yes, not available in Italy).
I missed drink stalls. The only drinks you could get there were fresh coconut water and drinks from the food stalls. All I could think was “Where are the vegan drink brands?” Even water seemed hard to get, but maybe it was just my view of things.
Finally, the contacts. I was able to leave our business cards around to the general public but couldn’t talk too much with the companies. Because it is a festival dedicated to consumers, it didn’t feel like the right place to talk business. People were there to get food and products and I wouldn’t stay in their way chatting. But I could talk to a few people and it was great. Let’s hope that we were able to spread the word about this website and our international Vegan Package Swap.