By Sarah Jackson
One of Europe’s biggest veggie events, Vegfest UK, came to Hove Town Hall last weekend. Over 250 stalls showcased a huge variety of vegan products, including clothing, accessories, beauty products and most importantly, food.
I’ve been a pescatarian (which means that the only meat I eat is seafood) for 13 years now and I can honestly say that I don’t miss poultry or red meat at all. The only thing that sometimes bothers me about my decision is the occasional lack of choice. If I go to a “normal” restaurant with friends, most of the menu is off-limits to me. On the one hand, this does mean that choosing my meal is quicker but it sometimes gets tiring to be left with the same old choices. I do love a nut roast, but it can get dull and that’s assuming that it’s a well-made one in the first place.
Yes, some vegan food isn’t great. But that isn’t a trait exclusive to vegan food only, as I’m sure we all, meat-eaters, vegans and pescatarians alike have had some less-than inspiring meals. But having restrictions in your diet for whatever reason doesn’t mean you have to give up on trying to make delicious food.
The stalls at Vegfest proved this time and again. There was a stall selling gummy sweets using a gelling agent made from lilypads instead of meat gelatine, raw chocolate made without any dairy, ice cream made from no cream and, perhaps most amazingly of all, a vegan doner kebab.
I didn’t try that one – the queue was too long – but I sampled plenty of chocolate (Moo-Free was my favourite) and ate one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had from Ms Cupcake. Those cupcakes proved that although some vegan food is tasteless and healthy, some vegan offerings are the exact opposite.
The most exciting moment for me came when the friend I went to Vegfest with pointed out the stall selling vegan hotdogs. We both realised with some excitement that neither of us could remember the last time we had eaten a hotdog, bought from a stand. And now we were in a place where there were at least three separate stalls selling them! I’ve never particularly cared about hotdogs but dammit, now I wanted one badly.
As we stood in the queue to get one from V Bites (a vegan restaurant on Hove Lagoon owned by Heather Mills ), I remarked to the woman standing next to me that I wasn’t used to such choice.
‘Me neither!’ she said, her eyes shining. ‘I’ve had four lunches so far!”
Dietary restrictions can be a complete pain, whether it is because of an ethical decision or because your body is allergic or can’t digest a certain food group. It may be a restriction on your ingredients but it doesn’t have to be a restriction on creativity. Vegfest reminded me that it’s best not to focus on what I can’t eat and instead focus on the delicious things that I can.
There are other Vegfest’s occurring in London and Bristol later in the year, but I will definitely be going back next year, if only for that hotdog (which was, by the way, glorious).
More details about Vegfest UK can be found here.