In November 2015 Dublin had its first vegan festival and it was a huge success. The long queues proved that there are more people interested in veganism here than we could imagine. This year, Dublin VegFest happens September 11th, in a larger venue and with great guests. For this edition, All About Vegan Food is also a media partner and we’ll be publishing interview with the main guests during this summer.
To give everyone around the world the chance to get to know more about the festival and the people behind it, we interviewed Pears Hussey:
How was the idea for Dublin Vegfest born?
I’ve been working as a coach and running vegan events in Dublin for a few years. The growth of veganism and from listening to people we found there was a need for celebration, for the animal rights and vegan community to establish a day for themselves too. The idea of bringing the best of the vegan lifestyle to people who are curious was attractive. I worked in other big events and festivals and inspired by this, organising a vegan festival in Ireland just seemed a natural thing to do. We are very grateful for the good will and support from so many people.
First edition of the festival happened in November 1st 2015 and I think none of us that were there expected that many people. What was the most positive outcome of the festival?
There were many positive outcomes. One of them is that the idea of veganism reached so many people – far more than attended the event. We think Ireland became a place more noticed for its progress towards veganism. The day itself was a success. People that came enjoyed meeting vegan friendly businesses and so many like minded people. For our first show we crammed a lot in in terms of talks, performances and activities. There are many people getting in touch months later to thank us for convincing them to live vegan through their experiences at the event and for bringing so many AR and vegan advocacy groups and individuals in Ireland together under one roof. We also helped to raise funds for Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary. One thing that was consistently fed back to us from speakers, performers and stall holders was the warmth and friendliness from everyone they met on the day.
What are the main goals of promoting (do you mean organising or running) a vegan festival in Ireland?
To celebrate veganism as a legitimate and enjoyable way of living your life with tremendous benefits for everyone, animals, humans and our planet. To clearly show that rather than giving up something, a vegan can enjoy a new enriched experience of great foods, new ideas, ethics… oh, and vegan cake of course!
What can we expect for the 2016 edition?
We have a bigger venue so we’ll have more stalls, more offerings and more for families too! We’re excited about our speakers like Emily Barwick Moran / Bite Size Vegan, Fiona Oaks, Kristin Lajeuness / Will Travel For Vegan Food as well as local vegan advocacy groups, new vegan friendly producers and surprises.
We always want to know a bit more about the people behind vegan initiatives. Could you tell us a bit more about who’s organizing Dublin Vegfest?
My name is Pears and I’ve been vegan for over 15 years. I’m a facilitator and work with ethical businesses and projects helping them be creative in their messaging. I ran a community vegan cafe in Dublin and set up Kindness Cafe – vegan cafe for homeless people. I coordinate Dublin Vegfest and its team. Last year wonderful group of volunteers on the day made the event possible and I want to say thank you again! I’m a vegan runner, I like hip-hop, chocolate, beans & rice.
Do you think Ireland is becoming more vegan-friendly in the last few years?
There is no doubt that there are more food options and products available for vegans in Ireland now than say 5 years ago. Along side this the word vegan and its meaning is much more familiar among many more people. There is hardly a day that goes by where I don’t see veganism mentioned in a positive light in the media. This is a wonderful achievement built over years through education by advocacy groups and individuals. We need to keep building on it and be consistent in our message and Dublin Vegfest will always try to do that. Last year we were delighted to see so many young people attend the festival and get their feedback which was overwhelmingly positive. Friendly happy vegans are great examples to everyone.