Tuesday, 8 October 2013

VegFest London 2013

We spent this past weekend in London (which was great!). We planned the trip to watch "Danny Elfman's Music From the Films of Tim Burton" at the Royal Albert Hall. It was awesome. And as fortune would have it, the weekend we were going down happened to be the same weekend as VegFest! (Which we ended up winning two sets of tickets to that we had to give back as we had already bought tickets on the BOGOF offer!).


We attended the Sunday only, as we had lots of other things that we wanted to do whilst in London. If we lived a little closer I may have gone to both days (although I imagine hubby would only want to come to one), and would possibly have attended some of the talks/workshops rather than just the performances. I did want to go to a talk about marketing your vegan business but it turned out to be a workshop and I didn't feel I would have had much to contribute at the time so didn't attend - hopefully there will be another opportunity.

There was a wide range of stalls, and the layout was a lot better than the Manchester vegan fair which we attended earlier this year. In Manchester, everything was very crowded and there was not much space to move - it was also so popular that it was incredily warm! The London festival was held at Kensington Olympia, which was a lot more open and spacious. There were a lot of people but on the whole it didn't stop us from getting to anything we wanted to look at - although there were a few obnoxious people who just barged us out of the way if they wanted to get to the front of the stall. It seems you can't escape them these days! That said, they were relatively few and far between.

The Mighty Fork was the first place we visited (for breakfast), as I had heard rave reviews of their hot dogs and had heard that they sold out on the Saturday so didn't want to miss out. The sausages were good - I had the sauerkraut (topping) and hubby had the chilli dog (I forget the fancy names), although they were quite difficult to eat as they were so packed with topping - I'd probably opt for the "plain jane" next time. I liked them (although I probably wouldn't queue for longer than we did) but the other half wasn't too impressed. I guess being an omni he is harder to please in terms of meat substitutes! He very much enjoyed the sausage samples we tried at the Wheaty stand (as did I) - so much so that we are going to order some online when we get home! Win! (We did buy 6 of the little vaccuum packed sausages while we were there but sadly none have made it home with us...)


Another meat substitution we discovered (which he loved) was a new Italian brand called Muscolo di Grano, which is made from wheat and lentils. The samples we tried were just fried in a little oil and I must admit they were amazing. They had a great taste and texture, and seem like they could be very versatile. Most of the dishes that Mr Hatter cooks include some form of meat substitute, as that's what he is comfortable cooking. To add another couple of brands to the repertoire is great as it means we can try some new meals. (Meat substitutes are a good compromise for us both.)

There were stalls covering both floors, and upstairs we discovered a bakery stall selling doughnuts. Vegan doughnuts. Do you have any idea how long I've craved vegan doughnuts for?? We bought a couple of these bad boys (and yes they were huge - I should have added something for scale when I took the photo):


Unfortunately, due to icing that was about 1/4" thick, they were rather sickly. I was defeated after about 2/3 of it (even after picking off most of the sickly pinkness) - and anyone that knows me knows that I like to eat; especially cake. It is very rare that I declare something too sweet but I just couldn't manage this. At least the craving has gone (for now...) - I think I would have been much happier with a jam filled doughnut or some seaside style ones. But hey ho, it was only £2 I think so I guess I got my monies worth.

We did also have a good experience of vegan cake from Cat & The Cream. (I thought about going to Ms Cupcake but I went there at the Manchester event so thought I'd spread the love this time.) We chose the banana, cashew and peanut butter cupcake - which I forgot to take a photo of before we scoffed. It was yummy. The base was quite heavy for a cupcake (being more like a dense banana bread than a fluffy cupcake) but it tasted great and the frosting was perfect. I believe they are stocked in quite a few places so I think I would definitely try another if I got the chance.

There were a number of performers on stage throughout the day, a few of which we watched. My favourite was definitely the vegan metal comedian Andrew O'Neill. He had us both in stitches all the way though - one of the highlights was a piece about how singers get all the girls. Except metal singers. Because metal vocals aren't particularly romantic - as shown by his rendition of Hammer Smashed Face to a female audience member. (Apologies to any non-metalheads reading this as I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about.)


There was also a vegan escapologist / sword swallower / stunt performer called David Straitjacket, who performed things like sword swallowing, walking on broken glass and hammering a nail into his face. All rather cringeworthy but very entertaining. The most intense part of his set was where he asked two audience members to tie him up and was then tied into a large plastic bag before having to escape. I'm sure that showmanship led the build up to make it sound more dangerous than it was (due to him being a professional and all) but it was still incredibly tense as he passed the 90 second mark, then the 2 minute mark, and so on. But thankfully he escaped without injury, woop!


I would recommend going to see both of these guys if you get the chance.

And so, thoroughly entertained and full of free samples, we headed for home. I would definitely return if the opportunity presented itself and I can't wait for the vegan festival that's coming to Leeds next year.

This is the swag we took home (there would have been more if we hadn't eaten it there or if we'd had a fridge in the hotel room... The box of soy milk was free!)

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