It never fails to warm my heart, walking into a room filled with everything vegan. Well, ok, not everything vegan, but everything in there is vegan, if you understand me. I can just walk in and buy whatever I want without having to check ingredients and so on…and I usually do.
This year I went into the Edinburgh Vegan Festival at the Corn Exchange as a VIP. Oh yes, early entry and a goodie bag from Farplace Animal Rescue, were mine for just £15 and it was great to have a sniff around before the hoards descended, for descend they did. I was armed with cash (although more and more stalls take cards these days) as much a method of keeping track of my spending than anything.
I wandered around and bought breakfast, a ‘ham & cheese’ crepe from Flip’n’fast Crepes, their first one of the day. As I took it out to the seating area to have a root through my goodie bag, I passed the Sgai mheats stall, which had a queue already, before the festival had properly opened! I tweeted this fact to my followers and settled down to devour my crepe.
After another little wander round I headed to the talks and films area. They were showing ‘Live and Let Live’,’Cowspiracy’ (which also comes in book form) and ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ in the screening room during the day. I’d seen Peaceable Kingdom online, as you can too if you like. It’s a wonderful documentary about animal farmers who have awoken to veganism through life changing events. Their stories are worth hearing, but there is some footage that I found quite difficult to watch. I suppose I’m not yet hardened to images of animal exploitation and to be honest, I hope I never will be.
Instead of watching the films, I was lucky enough to get one of the last remaining seats in a talk given by Dr. Alex Lockwood entitled ‘How to turn a man vegan in 45 minutes.’ The talk addressed the wild gender imbalance within the vegan movement (there are far more females than males) and it was standing room only by the time he got started. There are several reasons why men are less drawn to veganism than women, and many of them are cultural. I took a fair few notes to see how I could work on approaching my male friends on the subject. Dr. Lockwood was keen to hear the audience’s stories about their vegan journeys and was an engaging speaker. He wrote ‘The Pig in Thin Air’ which details his own vegan awakening and has earned some fantastic reviews.
It was still a little early for donuts, but goodness knows, there were plenty available. First to sell out were the cream egg flavoured ones made by the ever-reliable Considerit Chocolate. I bought some chocolate bars from them as I always do, and also treated myself to three dream eggs which were indeed a dream come true.
The range of cakes, as ever, was impressive. My local baker Pitxu, was there and I couldn’t resist a cupcake from her stand. She’s based in the Edinburgh area and I’ve reviewed her work in detail elsewhere.
Food was soon beckoning me again, and by some miracle I managed to control myself cake-wise. I grabbed a curried potato and pea patty for lunch from Sacred Lotus, and wandered over to the other side of the venue. There I found something I really wasn’t expecting to see.
Among the tempting food, worthy charities and vegan businesses sat a car- a Tesla to be exact. I am not an expert when it comes to cars, but I must say it looked impressive. An all vegan car with vegan leather interior is a real innovation. Completely electric, this must be one of the most environmentally friendly cars out there. It’s certainly one of the fastest, going from 0 to 60mph in 2.6 seconds! Ah, perhaps when I win the lottery…
It was around this time that my thoughts turned to what little presents I could get those who couldn’t attend. First into my mind, unsurprisingly, was my beloved dog. I happened across a stand filled with vegan doggie treats called Pooches a Gogo, which were made locally in Fife. They assured me that each batch was rigorously taste tested by their Labradors, so I bought a packet of little bones that made me very popular when I returned home!
Once I’d got some gifts I turned my attention to the many charity stalls. I love learning about the smaller charities. The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice, whom I’d met in Glasgow in December, have a new project. They’re trying to raise funds to open the UK’s first hospice for farmed animals. I happily donated as I reckon the work they do is just heroic and so, so kind. Donate here if you wish.
Paws2Rescue was a charity I hadn’t heard of before. They take abandoned dogs from Romania and try to rehome them here in the UK. The conditions the dogs are in is heartbreaking and the charity reach out to kind-hearted people via social media and their website.
Donuts selling fast…I chatted to a lovely lady from the Mahouts Elephant Foundation, who supports local people in Thailand who used to own elephants in order to make a living. They help them remain in their villages so their elephants can wander free in the forests instead of being dragged into town. They run camps so tourists can see the elephants in their natural environments and the mahouts go out every day to check that the elephants are safe.
After visiting various skincare stalls including Soul Tree and White Rabbit, I went to the last talk of the day, given by Rebecca Knowles, who is the founder of Vegan Outreach Scotland. She’s had a very interesting life, having lived in all different areas of the world, which I think gives her a good perspective on the issues. Her organisation simply asks people if they are animal lovers and then takes them to the logical conclusion that veganism is for them. As most of us know, this can be a pretty awkward conversation, but to get people’s actions to align with their beliefs can be very rewarding. Rebecca is clearly driven to have that conversation and it’s great to have people like her out there leading a compassionate discussion.
I was soon pretty tired, but very happy with my haul. I met some lovely people over the course of the day. I also get the feeling that these festivals are becoming far more mainstream and appealing to a far wider group of people. The presence of the car, as well as those selling fitness supplements alongside all the familiar savoury food stalls, cakes, charities and beauty products, was very welcome. Veganism really needs to be ‘normalised’ if we’re going to make a real difference for the animals and if having a liqueur stand , a terrarium stall, and a sporty car is needed to do that, then I’m all for it!