Have you been to a vegan festival? There are more and more taking place, and they are a great way to enjoy a day out, as well as to introduce non-vegan friends and family to a plant-based lifestyle.
Ranging in size from a community centre or restaurant function room, to a purpose-built exhibition hall or entire town takeover, festivals showcase a wide range of vendors. On the culinary side, these generally include local cafés and catering firms, selling everything from cooked-on-the-spot burgers and curry to raw cakes and muffins, and often offering free samples too. Perhaps this is the best opportunity to convince a sceptical friend to finally taste a square of vegan brownie, and challenge their misconceptions? These stalls may be set up like a food court, with seating, so visitors can recharge their batteries in comfort rather than juggle a plate of risotto on the go.
Then there are clothing firms, selling t-shirts with animal rights slogans and non-leather wallets and belts, as well as businesses offering cruelty-free cosmetics, toiletries, and environmentally-friendly menstrual products. Smaller companies tend to accept cash only; a blessing or source of frustration depending on your budget, but more and more stalls are introducing portable card terminals or app-based payments, or a discount code for visitors who purchase later online.
It is not all about sales though! Activist groups attend with petitions, flyers and a desire to chat about their aims and how they operate, which can be a great way for those new in town to meet fellow campaigners and learn about the local scene.
Larger events, such as the 2016 Veggie Planet in Prague, pictured above, offer cooking demonstrations (complete with more samples), and lectures on diverse topics such as veganism in infancy, travel tips, the story of a slaughterhouse worker who resigned and turned vegan, and philosophical approaches to animal rights and new-welfarism. Educational activities for young children can also be found, whilst adults can try virtual-reality factory farm experiences, or find light relief in a mini-makeover or speed dating games.
So all in all, going to a festival offers opportunities for entertainment, learning, networking, shopping, and much more, with my personal highlight being the positive energy that I get from seeing just how many others are vegan or veg-curious; I'm not alone after all!