Over the weekend of the 28th March my sister and I decided to check out Brighton’s 2015 Vegfest in the impressive Brighton Centre.
We’ve attended many a food festival over the years and Brighton rarely disappoints when it comes to showcasing local food and drink talent. With that in mind we had high expectations for Vegfest that celebrates vegan and vegetarian cuisine. It also has a strong focus on eco-friendly farming techniques and the ethos behind eating vegan or vegetarian.
Like most food festivals you could attend a number of talks and cookery demos. They ranged from important topics like animal welfare and environment & food sustainability to tips on how to replace animal products in your baking. Since neither of us is vegan, vegetarian or (in my case) particularly interested in heavy sustainability debates on a Saturday afternoon, we stuck to seeing what food and drink was on offer. That said, I did peek in on The Hemp Revolution film screening which was surprisingly gripping.
There were a remarkable number of stalls crammed, somewhat uncomfortably, over the 2 floors. The variety of stalls and types of cuisine were impressive, even if the quality of some was less so. Vegfest had pretty much everything you’d imagine from such an event- vegetarian shoe stalls, vegan bakers and a ridiculous amount of people selling coconut water.
On the whole it was a fun, different and informative experience. It was also very interesting to see so many people with such a passionate and dedicated ethos all unite to showcase their products. The majority of what we sampled was edible and some were tasty but nothing really stood out at the stalls, except Cocoface, who sell/deliver whole coconuts. It was quite an underwhelming culinary experience that left my sister and I craving a bacon buttie.
The Food Village, a separate section dedicated to feeding the swathes of Vegfest goers, was far more impressive. St Best Caribbean Caterers, Pitfield Brewery and Bangwok were probably the best in show. But perhaps we set our standards too high and expected it to be along the lines of Terre A Terre meets the Foodie Festival.
There was also an odd tension in the air whenever we came across a more fanatical vegan or vegetarian. It was almost as if people could sense we weren’t stoically or even a little bit behind the vegan ideal and could smell it on us like an abattoir. The most awkward incident was over hearing an elderly ‘hippie-esque’ couple mutter to each other as to whether my shoes were real leather!
This was the 5th year Vegfest has come to Brighton and I would certainly go back, especially for £8.00 on the door and cheaper if you book online. It won’t be making it into my hall of fame for food festivals, but I recommend going. It’s extremely varied, has impressive sponsors and is perfect for those looking for a more spiritual/lifestyle exposé over a culinary one.
Written, with love, by Nick