This Saturday marked an exciting occasion for Northerly vegans as the first large-scale vegan festival ever held in Scotland set up for the day in the city of Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, the festival fell on a busy weekend for me (hellooooooo moving flats!), but I dropped in for as long as I could spare. I mean, I could hardly miss it now, could I?
Man, am I glad I went - first and perhaps foremost because it was great to see so many vegans all in one place! I've not yet heard an official estimate as to how many attended, but from what I can tell, the venue was pretty much packed from open to close. Vegans being vegans - a passionate bunch - I expected a good turnout, but on Saturday I think we really did ourselves proud. When I arrived at noon, the queue to get in was wrapped around the block. I never thought I'd be that happy to see a long queue!
Then again, I could and did skip said queue with my VIP ticket (woohoo!), which also entitled me to a biiiig bag of goodies upon entry.
This is everything I got in that bag of goodies. It was the best bag of goodies. I've not tried everything yet, but the cupcake (from an unidentified supplier, later identified as Organically Yours!) went straight down. That was something special, almost perfect: really vanilla-y, bursting with jam, and super-soft and moist. Yessssssssssss.
I felt pretty energised after that, and good job, because I had a lot of meeting and greeting (and, ok, eating) to do.
I was super-stoked to see a couple of friendly faces behind the first stall I got to: the super-lovely Karris and Jenna of TheVeganKind! I've been reviewing TVK boxes and writing recipes for these ladies for a long time now, so it was great to finally have a chat in person. I picked up another of their latest beauty boxes because I loved my first one so much; the Sophyto serum (miraculous!) and the Greenfrog body wash in particular.
After a little bit of strategic reconnaissance, I decided to pick up some food while there was still some left, as it looked like the edibles were selling fast. I got two big, beautiful bits of cake from the bounteous stall of Global Fusion Vegan Creole Bakery: apple crumble and plum and oat. I shared them both with my friend down by the river before catching my train home. Both were great and I'm sad I didn't get more.
We also broke into a Twilight bar by the river: yes, the all-hallowed vegan answer to Mars bars, which I grabbed from the Vegan Tuck Box stall. Besides their subscribers' treat box, Vegan Tuck Box have started selling individual imported goodies like Twilight ("Mars"), Cleo peanut butter cups, and No-Nos. The Twilight was glorious, and a pretty good approximation of a regular Mars bar (not that that's the be-all and end-all, of course), so I'll probably be heading over to their website preeeeetty soon.
Oh, and I got this giant giuandiotto from VTB too: OMG.
So as not to overdo it on the sweet things (I like to eat a balanced diet), I made sure to pick up something savoury too - although, to be honest, by the time I arrived a lot of the savoury food had gone. Sadface. But I did get these prawn cracker-y crisps from Gillie Food, which I'm yet to test out. Don't the cucumber ones sound great?
Just after I visited Gillie Food I bumped into another friend: Chantal of Vegan Lifestyle Association fame. We took a little break together and lamented missing out on the savouries. (To vegan festival organisers everywhere: please have lots of savoury food! I know vegans like cake but wo(man) cannot live on sweets alone!). By then time was against me, so I had to head off soon after meeting Chantal.
I emerged, blinking, into the outside world, not just with two big bags of vegan swag, but also a sense of satisfaction and excitement. Maybe it was the sugar, maybe it was the sun, but I'm sure at least a little of that excitement came from seeing this inaugural Northern vegan event going so brilliantly well. There was the usual charity presence (and with some a pretty clear focus on single-issue campaigns), which I didn't feel was constructive; I mostly avoided these. I didn't get a chance to listen to the talks, so there's no telling what they were like. Nevertheless, it was definitely the food and lifestyle stalls which stole the show and attracted the most attention. With an even bigger festival set to take place in Glasgow in December - a Vegfest proper - 2015 is sure to be a promising year for Scottish vegans, and I hope the positive aspects of Saturday's festivities are but a glimmer of the things to come.
Here's to you, Edinburgh Vegan Festival. Here's to vegans. Here's to change.