VEGAN FAIR SUCCESS
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
The popularity of vegan food seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. It’s estimated that there are at least 542,000 people in Britain who are following a vegan diet meaning that they don’t consume any animal products including meat, fish, cheese, dairy, eggs or honey. Ten years ago the number of vegans in this country was estimated at around 150,000. Go back a couple of decades prior to that, and it would be fair to say that veganism was looked on as being a bit faddy or downright weird.
Finding healthy and tasty alternatives to meat, fish and dairy products years ago wasn’t easy. And anyone living as a vegan was thought to be thin and malnourished. Today you can buy delicious vegan foods, there are vegan restaurants popping up all over the country, vegan cookery books on the shelves, vegan websites packed with great information and nutritional advice, and vegan fairs attracting big crowds.
A recent vegan fair in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, saw around 1,000 people packing into a church hall, eager to sample hot savoury vegan burgers, hot dogs and chilli, plus sweets, chocolate, pies and cakes. In addition to the foods there were also vegan friendly skin care products, meaning that nothing was tested on animals nor contained any animal derivatives; vegan clothing – that is no leather, silk or fur; as well as T-shirts with a vegan message or an animal welfare message on them. Plus there were information, health and nutrition stands.
The fair was organised by Kevin White, founder of Midlands Vegan Campaigns and marked the organisation’s 10th anniversary. “There has never been a vegan festival in Nuneaton before,” said Kevin. “We are showcasing delicacies of vegan cuisine and lifestyle. It’s a great turnout but it hasn’t surprised me in the least judging by the interest there’s been on social media.
He continued: “There are almost half a million vegans in this country with as many aspiring vegans. The main issues for people are animal rights and animal welfare. But of course, not everyone buys vegan foods because they are vegan. Some are dairy intolerant, some choose it simply for the taste. For others it’s for the environmental benefits and health benefits. Over the last few years people have come to realise that eating meat and dairy can result in hypertension, cardio vascular problems and some cancers. Studies have shown that vegans have a much longer life expectancy than meat eaters.”
Kevin’s stall was selling all kinds of chocolate and sweets, and in the name of research I had to sample a chocolate fondant cream egg to find out whether dairy free chocolate had improved since I tasted it about 15 years ago. Happily, I can report back that it was very nice indeed!
“Dairy free chocolate has improved tremendously,” said Kevin. “And you do pay a little bit extra for vegan foods because they are mainly produced by small companies and can’t mass produce on the same scale. Also, chocolates may be hand made and often the makers are using organic and fair trade ingredients, which all has an impact on the price.”
Kevin concluded, “This is the 10th anniversary of the Midlands Vegan Campaigns and in celebration of the anniversary and with so much curiosity about being vegan, it seemed the right time to go on tour. This is the first of 12 small vegan fairs in the West Midlands. Next is on 18th February in Walsall and then on 4th March at Evesham; then one a month throughout the year.