Reviews

VegFest 2017: a Review

Vegfest is without a doubt an event that I look forward to every year. I guess you could call it a highlight in the veggie/vegan calendar. This year’s one in London was bigger and better than ever!

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Too excited for Vegfest

This is my third VegFest, and the best one yet. There were just more stalls than ever before and so much variety of products which you just don’t get to see in your average supermarket or health food store.

I could go on and on about how amazing everything was, but I suspect you would get pretty overwhelmed! Instead, I will attempt to give you the highlights from Vegfest London 2017; and what to expect from this festival, if you have never been to one.

Vegan celebrities; the panel discussions

One of the highlights for me was walking into the venue and meeting one of the most influential and famous vegan activists around; James Aspey. I went with 3 of my friends, one of whom, John (see Vegans abroad: Croatia) is a BIG James Aspey fan. I mean, I have seen a few YouTube clips of the guy, but John knows a lot more about him! So meeting him was a really big deal! He was very chilled out and down-to-earth, and not at all what would stereotypically spring to mind when you say ‘Vegan activist’.

Famous for taking a 365 day vow of silence followed by a powerful TV interview to raise awareness for the animals, he conquered leukaemia, drug abuse and bullimia before becoming one of Australia’s most well-known animal rights activists.

We also went along to a couple of the panel discussions which were really interesting and informative. The first one featuring health professionals had Dr. Milton Mills on the panel, who is famous on YouTube, has been featured in ‘What the health’  and has a book coming out soon. He comes across as a straight-talking, intelligent man with a wealth of scientific knowledge to back up his theory that human beings are not omnivores but were born to live on a plant-based diet; that meat is actually toxic to humans and will cause heart disease and diabetes in the long-term.

To end the day, we went to the Vegan activists panel discussion, which was truly inspirational. Far from being the militant-activist types that are so easy to imagine, these guys were inspiring in their own unique way, helping animals and spreading awareness in a compassionate and non-aggressive way. On the panel were:

James Aspey (see above)

Fiona Oakes – a true animal advocate having dedicated her entire life to promoting veganism and animal welfare issues. She became vegetarian at age 3 and progressed towards veganism at age 6. She is a Triple Guinness World Record holder – records she set in 2013 being the fastest woman to run a Marathon on every Continent and the North Pole subsequently re-breaking 2 of these records in 2014. She also runs an animal sanctuary, Tower Hill stables, which currently is home to around 450 animals and actively speaks in schools and at events to promote animal rights. If she isn’t inspirational, I don’t know who is!

Will Tuttle – Dr. Will Tuttle is author of the acclaimed best-seller, The World Peace Diet, published in 16 languages. He is a former Zen monk and has been vegan since 1980 and is featured in a number of documentary films. He is a radio, television and online presenter and the co-founder of the Worldwide Prayer Circle for Animals.

Robert Grillo – is an activist, author and speaker and is the director of Free from Harm which he founded in 2009 to advocate on behalf of farmed animals and to bring awareness to how animal agriculture is connected to all other forms of exploitation.

Fat gay vegan – Sean O’Callaghan has run the award-winning blog Fat Gay Vegan for 7 years running. He hosts numerous events around the UK including the weekly Hackney Downs Vegan Market in London and his series of Vegan Beer Fest UK events. He is an advocate for supporting local businesses and to avoid funding big companies where possible, as although they may offer vegan or veggie options it is better to support local, small businesses who do not support the meat and dairy industries.

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Vegan activists panel

It was so inspiring to see all these people and just highlighted the fact that anyone can help fight animal injustice and promote animal rights in their own way, without the need for pushiness, violence or aggression.

Fashion and beauty products and artwork 

You could be forgiven for thinking Vegfest only had food and drink stalls; the majority of stalls probably were! However, there were also a large number of other stalls; vegan fashion, t-shirts, activist gear, perfumes and art.

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Vegan Activist Apparel

Beyond bags – this stall was eye-catching, and not just because I have always been a fan of handbags. The simple designs with quality cruelty-free faux leather really looked good. Although a little on the pricey side, these bags were definitely worth a look – perfect for a birthday treat?! Click here to go to their website: Beyond Bags

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Alive – this vegan boutique specialises in accessories; shoes, bags, watches but also slogan tees. Check out their website here: Alive

Eden Perfumes – this brand is one of my new favourites. Ever since my friend Claire (see Vegans abroad: Croatia) bought me one for my birthday last year, I have been a big fan. They basically provide a vegan and cruelty-free alternative to your favourite designer perfume. Made from vegan essential oils and natural products, they are really good at mimicking top designer fragrances; cruelty-free, natural and much cheaper than designer perfumes – what more could you want?! Eden Perfumes

Artwork – there were some moving and thought-provoking pieces of affordable art which were worth a look. I picked a couple of highlights below:

The Food

Of course, the main attraction of Vegfest, let’s admit it, is the food! Where else can a vegetarian or vegan get SO many options?! There were just so many food stalls, it would be impossible to mention all the different brands. Instead, I will talk about a few of my favourites:

Koko dairy free – this is one of my favourite dairy-free alternatives out there. They use coconut milk as a dairy replacement, which is delicious in hot drinks, cereal and pancakes/baking. The ‘milk’ comes in three flavours; original, chocolate and strawberry and in various sizes. They also do yoghurts in 5 different flavours. At Vegfest, they always have free samples to try and money-off tokens.

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Koko dairy free

Sheese – Vegan cheese is a tough one; trying new brands tends to be a bit of a gamble with some tasting powdery and pungent and a bit unpleasant! Sheese however is not one of those brands. I became a fan when I used their original cream cheese for making butter-cream icing. I hadn’t however tried their solid ‘cheeses’ before. At Vegfest I tried many many cheese samples, and one of my fave Sheese ones was the red leicester style one; it simply had a great mature taste, melted well and was just generally yummy. The garlic and herb cream Sheese is also delicious!

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Follow your heart – This is another great dairy-free brand that does some yummy cheese, mayonnaise and dressings. My new absolute favourite product is Sriracha Vegenaise which is delicious on most things! It is creamy like mayo with a slight kick or chilli – if you like Sriracha sauce or spicy foods you will love this. The vegan gourmet shreds are also really good and are a good dairy-free alternative to put on pizzas and for cheese on toast!

Ms. Cupcake – these cakes and cookies are phenomenal! I have the recipe book which is great as the baking ingredients are pretty easy to get hold of and the end products are delicious! My favourites are the cupcakes and the red velvet cookie sandwiches.

There were many other brands of cakes and baked goodies, but it would take forever to cover them all. Let’s just say a lot of samples were had and by lunch time we agreed that we should probably have lunch even though none of us were really hungry after all the food samples!

Lunch options – there were SO many lunch options to choose from. When you are veggie/vegan, choice is generally a luxury. I am so indecisive that having an entire hall (‘vegan food village’) full of stalls where I could choose to eat from was simply a nightmare; but not exactly a bad problem to have! From fast food options such as jumbo hot dogs and veggie burgers and vegan ‘steak’ to more healthy wraps, African food or Asian options, we really were spoilt for choice.

App. spotlight

With the growth in popularity of plant-based diets, there has also been a boom in veggie/vegan apps. From Barnivore which tells you which alcoholic drinks are vegan to location-based apps. which tell you where your nearest veggie/vegan restaurants are.

Happy Cow – this is an app. that has led me to discover at least 2 great vegetarian places to eat in London when I have been stuck for ideas. A great app. that checks your location and tells you where your nearest veggie/vegan restaurants and cafes are!

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Who doesn’t love a purple cow?

Veggie Alternatives – I had never heard of this app. until we got speaking to a couple of guys promoting it at VegFest. The premise is simple but brilliant; it’s an app. that allows anyone to search for replacements/alternatives to non-veggie/vegan foods, including recipes. So not only is it great for those starting out as vegetarians or vegans but also for friends who want to know what to buy or cook for example! With Veggie Alternatives, you can find over 300 animal-friendly substitutes for over 40 meat, dairy or other products, such as Bacon, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Cheese, Milk, Pastries, Ice Cream, Chocolate and even Eggs!

At just 14 years of age, Ayush Sanghavi  started developing this app. in the summer of 2016 as a small project. He has been vegan for almost a year and a half now after seeing some adverts about the dairy industry. Now 15, he has set up an official website for his app company AYUSH Apps, as well as producing a new YouTube video advertising the app. These were funded by a crowdfunding page – when I last checked with Ayush, it had reached £102 of its £1,000 goal; the app. is available in Google Play store, and soon in Apple’s App. store.

The best thing about Vegfest?

It would be easy to wax lyrical about all the Vegfest stalls and features; but this would make for a much longer blog post (or book)! I have just included a few highlights to give you a flavour of what it was like, but it’s not a comprehensive guide. The best way to find out is to go to one and try it for yourself; I promise you will be spoilt for choice if you’re a veggie or vegan. And if you’re not? You will be amazed by this whole other way of living and world of great products. I was really pleased to see that there were more products than ever, more plant-based alternatives to everything from burgers, pizzas, eggs, sausages, cheese, supplements, baked goods, health drinks and milk to clothing, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes. Choice is a great thing.

Vegfest: it’s a gathering of like-minded people; an event that even a few years go would have been a very niche festival; it’s the raising of awareness on how to lead a healthier, plant-based lifestyle; meeting and listening to truly inspirational human beings. But ultimately it’s about saving animals; to live as cruelty-free as possible and to not contribute to the suffering and deaths of other creatures; and to me, this is what Vegfest is really all about; a festival of life, life without cruelty.

Maya xo

Disclaimer: I am an independent blogger and am not affiliated with any of the brands or products mentioned in this post. Nor have I been offered payment in any form for mentioning these products; these are just my own choices and personal preferences. All opinions expressed are my own and are not those of any of the brands or products listed.

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