Right in the midst of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and just across the road from the Edinburgh Book Festival lay, for one weekend, the Edinburgh Vegan Festival. This is the second year the Roxburghe Hotel has played host and I must say, spread over two days instead of one, it felt a lot less ram packed this year.
My haul began straight away with a few giveaways. For a donation to Tower Hill Stables animal charity you could pick up the much fabled Follow Your Heart VeganEgg (egg replacer in baking and also makes scrambled ‘egg’) as well as other goodies including Sarelle bars, Lavera hand cream and much more.
The array of food was as mindboggling and mouth-watering as ever. Every type of cuisine seemed to be represented, from the award winning sgaia steaks, to olives and deli delights galore. As it was almost lunchtime there was sizzling going on. More focused individuals than myself were picking out their lunch options with tongs and great skill. All I could do was look around me.
I’d popped in the previous day, Saturday, and got a pie from Cool Jerk, always a favourite. Macaroni pie, seriously, how can you go wrong? Even my omnivore companion was impressed with their mince and onion offering. Today however, a pizza and salad from Henderson’s more than filled me up. It’s my regret to this day that I didn’t try the jam donuts that Considerit Chocolate were selling…However, a few of Missy’s Vegan cupcakes were pocketed for later, as were a brownie or two from Shire Snax. Even if you arrive at these events hungry, there’s always so much to fill you up you never get to try everything.
Of course, there’s always room for a small dessert and I was tempted to lots of different stalls to sample their wares. It was the first time I’d tasted Jeaven’s dairy-free toffee and I was compelled to buy two bags straight away. It really is lovely stuff.
Yum Earth Organics were also tempting passers-by with their fruity boiled sweets and jelly beans that not only were free from gelatine (of course!) but also contained anti-oxidents and counted towards your five (or seven, or whatever) a day. Impressive. Good Full Stop were not a company I’d come across before, but their date and nut bars in a wide selection of flavours were worth stopping for.
I was pleased to see many charities in evidence too. The League Against Cruel Sports was there, not only selling some cool t-shirts but also spreading the very important message that the fox hunting ban must be kept.
The Dr. Hadwen Trust continue to raise awareness of their work, which is conducting accurate medical testing without using animals. They have the only vegan charity shop in Britain (so far) and fund research into almost every serious condition you can think of, from brain tumours to heart disease.
Animals Asia had so much merchandise on their stand they were struggling to keep it all balanced on there! They do amazing work and this time were particularly highlighting their efforts to rescue bears who are used for bile. Just horrendous stuff, so very necessary work.
For those with a concern for the environment, which of course includes many vegans, Population Matters were there to highlight overpopulation of humans.
There were arts, crafts, make up and beauty products of all kinds on display too. Some beautiful paintings of elephants caught my eye and I bought one right at the end of the day. The art was beautiful and some of the proceeds went towards elephant conservation, so I simply couldn’t resist. Also gorgeous bags with foxes and badgers on them called to me. I got a badger one as the face on it was just adorable and badgers haven’t had their troubles to seek recently.
Agharta jewellery was lovely as always and I bought three more sets of earrings to add to my collection in the shapes of lizards, dragonflies and dinosaurs! They have a shop on etsy but attend many of the vegan festivals in person.
My favourite make up company was in attendance too, Bohemian Chic Minerals. They do a great variety of stuff, from brightly coloured eye shadow, to subtle foundation and bronzer to shimmering lipstick. All their products are suitable for sensitive skin too, which is a real bonus.
All this is to say nothing of the talks I attended. Kate Strong is a world champion triathlete and she was talking about how you can be the best you can by breaking out of the norm. This includes diet of course and she was a very engaging speaker. Inspiring stuff. Mick Walker is a vegan cyclist who has adopted a completely plant based diet in order to keep strong and fit as he gets older. I can only aspire to be as healthy as these two!
The whole event was inspiring and I’d highly recommend them, especially for new vegans, or the vegan-curious, so that they can experience the gorgeous food, discover how to live a cruelty free life and get inspired by others’ journeys. It’s a joyous, guilt-free way of life and this festival, along with others like it, embrace that fully. Do try to attend one near you.