Sorry for the abrupt break in what was otherwise a pretty stream-of-consciousness recollection of the sugary highlights of VegfestUK – if you missed Part 1, start here and then come back to read on and see what treasured goodies I came home with!
After all the sweet sampling, I was pretty thirsty! I had a hankering for lemonade for the first time in ages, and as luck would have it The Electric Lemon [from the VegfestUK site: “Brand new and solar powered mobile drinks business, bringing freshly mixed home made cordials, chilled by power from the sun, straight to the heart of the UK’s festival scene“] were selling lemonade out of their custom-built shiny yellow trailer, complete with automatic control panel and whooshy noises. Smiles were abundant and free, and the lemonade was refreshing and zingy!
Ben and I had just been lamenting the lack of fun tombolas and the laid-back atmosphere of last year’s event, when we strolled up to the Vegan Society stall doing a lucky dip tombola. Ben entered twice hoping to win a packet of Goody Good Stuff Cola Bottles – as the GGS stall had sold out of them, but instead won a giant bottle of Dr Bronner Baby Mild Liquid Soap and a bottle of Clearspring Omeg-A-Day flax oil blend. I was pretty stoked and tried to talk Ben into buying some Goody Good Stuff sweets anyway (their Christmas sweets were amazing and if you spent £10 you not only got an abundance of delicious animal-free sweets but also a cuddly koala toy!) but he only splashed out on a bag of Summer Peaches for his half marathon the next day. I’m not into sweets much because I’m usually too busy pushing chocolate into my face, but all the Goody Good Stuff range is incredible.
While Ben was queuing for a quarter-loaf of ginger cake from Global Fusion (which I never should have left him unattended to do, as he neglected to buy one of the giant slices of gooey mud pie they were selling for just £2), I had a little chat to the guys at Revolution Foods, as I had never seen them before.
They were actually surprisingly laid back for a superfood supplement company and didn’t try to guilt trip me about my diet or hard sell, though I got a strong sense that they were somewhat disillusioned with the event when one shrugged hopelessly, “I just don’t think vegans and vegetarians are that healthy”. Though considering his partner mentioned that he would save their raw superfood chocolate bars for a treat rather than an everyday staple, I figure they have higher standards of healthfulness than I do…
That conversation, however, summed up pretty much what I felt about the event as a whole; there was more than ever a schism between those vegans who wanted to stock up on the latest superfood supplements and raw treats, and those who wanted to eat all the cream cakes. I am not judging either, but Ben and I both felt that things had turned more ruthlessly commercial with more big brand names, more of the same types of in vogue products, and slightly less generous show offers. Having said that, I can’t blame people wanting to make money!
I snapped myself out of my chocolate sampling come-down by splashing out on three bright new Benecos nail polishes (on a 3 for 2 offer, the three of them only cost £13.90!) and then giving in to an urge to purchase a vest from TeenVGN. I never normally buy vegan-slogan apparel but I loved the design, and the loose cut of the vest is perfect for layering. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet the girls as they were off receiving the Best Vegan Blogger award – a huge congratulations to them though, it’s wonderful to see their hard work pay off! So exciting to see they are launching a summer camp for 11-16 year olds next year, unfortunately I don’t know any teenagers to send off on it, but I hope it is a resounding success!
And on a super-positive note, we turned our backs on VegfestUK 2014 to set off home with that strange mixture of excitement about rediscovering all our new treats, dread at finding space for them all in the cupboards, and apprehension at the restraint that will have to be exercised in not eating them all (it has now been three days since I got home from Vegfest and I no longer have any ConsiderIt Chocolate truffle bars).
I can’t go to a vegan food expo and not stock up on snack bars in bulk. I was tempted by Nakd bars on 18 for £8 (because why not?) but then I spotted Creative Nature who followed me on Twitter a while ago and whose superfood powders I have started to see around the place. I was pleased to see that the bars weren’t all heavily date-based, and I loved the juicy pineapple in the Tropical Treat bar which was really different to other fruit snack bars out there. So I happily exchanged £10 for ten Tropical Treat, five Blissful Berry and five Heavenly Cacao – I wasn’t keen on the Sublime Seed bars which were too hempy and powdery even for me. The staff were super enthusiastic and passionate too which always makes buying their products that much more fulfilling!
In total, not counting tickets (£10 each as I somehow forgot to get them on the early bird offer), we spent about £80 between us including food and drink at the venue. And look at how much we came back with! The vest is not pictured as I couldn’t resist putting it on as soon as I got home, and the beetroot drink, Provamel almond milks, and embarrassing amount of pickled beetroot and cabbage were gifts that came with the purchase of advance tickets – you went to a stall and picked three items each, how cool is that? Plus, that little Lavera hand cream was a free sample in the carrier bag I was given with my nail polishes which I only discovered when I got home.
Once again, VegfestUK was a really fun day out and although I may have had some small reservations about this year’s event, it remains the best event of its kind that I have encountered and is exactly what I like in a day out; a variety of healthy and not-so-healthy vegan food, new products and independent businesses, passionate people, and bargains – I am already looking forward to next year!