VegfestUK returns to the Brighton Centre on March 11 and 12 for a weekend of music, comedy, cooking demonstrations and workshops for the whole family to enjoy, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. Visitors to this annual vegan fiesta will have access to a huge array of vegan food from 20 globally inspired caterers, as well as special offers and free samples from more than 200 stalls. ALAN LEE from VegfestUK spoke to JOSH WALTON about what visitors can expect.

How do you see this year’s event as a progression from last year’s and do you expect a bigger turnout?

We have made a bit more space this year for seating and eating, and there’s a really cool space on level 3 with the performance area and room to chill, eat and drink. The main halls get pretty busy for food and shopping but the venue is pretty huge with plenty of space for visitors and of course lots going on in the way of talks, comedy, music, films and demonstrations.

What kind of impact do you expect the event have on people’s views on food and eating habits?

Undoubtedly people who are new to veganism leave the event with a completely different view a lot of the time. The main thing that strikes visitors is the sheer variety of vegan options, and the quality of the products too – people just cannot believe vegan food can taste so amazing. But it’s about a lot more than just the food and shopping. There is a real feel good factor and family vibe to the whole event. Many of us go back ten years or more and the organisation, venue staff and stallholders are all friends. People – both visitors, guests and new stallholders alike – often remark on the friendliness and fun nature of the event and many people leave totally inspired to transform their lives on a number of levels.

What is the main aim of the event? It seems as though a clear message is being sent to guests about the positive aspects of veganism.

Originally, the Vegfest was a good excuse for a party. Not much has changed there – but the event offers a lot more these days in the way of inclusivity, diversity and education, with the introduction of areas like the Deep Veganism Talks Room and the Intersectional Summit on Saturday being good examples. But Vegfest returns to its core values of helping make veganism accessible to all and doable in the shape of the Easy Veganism Room, which sees sessions on the basic ABC’s of veganism with a succession of inspirational guests, all of them vegan and some of them quite famous.

Can people who aren’t vegetarian or vegan still get the same experience of the event?

Absolutely. Around 40% of our visitors are pre vegans, and generally love the event on a number of levels. There’s so much on offer for the whole family – but even if you really can’t stand veganism but everyone else wants to go, there’s always the fully licensed bar and the comedy festival. Oh yes and a rather fantastically large amount of cake. And pizza.

Where do you see the event going in future, will it expand further due to its ongoing success?

We are at capacity for our event, but happy to see a number of other vegan events blossoming around the UK, including several others in Brighton. Our big next step is the UK’s first Vegan Trade and Media show at Olympia in October.

VegfestUK, March 11 and 12, Brighton Centre, £7 (day) / £10 (weekend), subject to, booking fees and children under 16 go free. For tickets, visit www.brighton.