Brighton is one of my favourite places that I’ve ever visited. Known for being a lively, gay-friendly beach resort on the south coast of England, it’s also like the mothership for vegetarians and vegans. I would move there, but the huge selection of vegetarian restaurants and shops would lead me to eat too much and be in a lot of debt. However, I need no excuse to visit Brighton. So, when I found out that I was free the weekend of Brighton Vegfest 2015, I immediately booked my train ticket. And, the two day extravaganza of everything vegan you could ever imagine all under one roof did not disappoint.
Due to it’s location on the south coast, Brighton is usually one of the few places in the UK to get some sunshine. Unfortunately, that was not the case on this visit. This was the ‘sea view’ from outside my hostel on the Saturday morning…
That blurry, vague shape that you can see in the background is Brighton Pier by the way! Booking a hostel right on the sea front also suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea when I had to traverse along the edge of the building to get anywhere due to the incredibly strong winds. Lucky for me, and the other 12,000 people who attended, Vegfest was entirely indoors. My one piece of advise would be to get there early, or chill out in Brighton for a while and wait for the queue to go down as it was very long…
When we did eventually all make it inside, it was definitely worth the wait. Hundreds of stalls advertising, selling and advocating everything from the world of veganism. Loads of charities and other great causes spreading the word about how we can save the world by living plant-based/vegan. A comedy festival with back-to-back vegan comedians for the whole two days. Two rooms with back-to-back presentations about lifestyle and nutrition. An entire room of fresh, tasty, vegan food. Performances, kids’ activities, vegan wine and a pedal-your-own smoothie station. Basically, heaven for vegans all under one roof. Here are my highlights from the weekend.
By far the best thing about visiting Vegfest was all the lovely, interesting and knowledgeable people I got to meet. Where I live in South Wales, we are lucky to have vegetarian restaurants and I live in a vegan-friendly neighbourhood, but I don’t often get the chance to mingle with so many people who have the same beliefs as me. I pestered nutritionists, charity workers, activists, chefs and many other experts with soooooo many questions. And they all patiently listened to me, answered what they’d probably already been asked a hundred times and expanded my knowledge.
There were so many talks and presentations, it was impossible to attend all the ones that I was interested in. So, I decided to divide my time between subjects that I already had some knowledge of and subjects that would push me out of my comfort zone, surprise me and help me to move closer to living completely vegan and be more environmentally conscious. As a result, I listened to experts on children’s nutrition, vegan body building, hunt sabotage, eating raw and the Vegan Society.
After all the listening, asking questions and shopping (lots and lots of shopping), the food court beckoned. There was so much delicious food to choose from, but it was so busy in the Brighton Centre that the queues were massive and lots of vendors quickly ran out of food. In fact, that would be my one criticism of Brighton Vegfest in general. From listening to people who had attended n previous years, this year’s festival was a lot bigger and a lot busier. It was overwhelming, especially on the Saturday.
Whilst in Brighton, I also found some time to visit the North Laines. This is my favourite part of Brighton, and I filled up on some yummy food at vegetarian restaurants Wai Kiki Moo Kau and Iydea.
I would definitely love to go back to Brighton Vegfest next year, by which time I’m sure I’ll have a hundred more questions. I’m also seriously considering dropping into Bristol Vegfest to see some of the talks I missed.