Last week columnist Dayna Spear enjoyed a visit to Vegfest at the Brighton Centre – just don’t mention the pig’s head:

Hello everyone – I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the gorgeous blue skies while they last. I’ve never been happier (or more desperate) to welcome spring.

I attended Vegfest at the Brighton Centre at the weekend, AKA my favourite day out.

This was my fourth time and I can safely say I think they’re brilliantly run events, a credit to the organisers.

I personally love them because they really defy the idea that vegan food is boring or restrictive as you can find pretty much any type of cuisine at these shows.

In case you have no idea what I’m going on about, Vegfest is an event dedicated to showcasing some of the best vegan businesses around, whether they’re new or well known, local or international.

If you’re still scratching your head, vegan means a diet/lifestyle that includes no animal products or by-products (so that’s meat, fish, dairy, eggs, leather… you get the gist.)

Drawing in about 8,500 people on its tenth anniversary at the weekend, the numbers do the talking about what a success it has been so far.

If you’re a foodie, Vegfest will be heavenly to you. It’s free samples galore, and the variety of food on offer is vast. There really is something for everyone.

I went with my friend who luckily enjoys eating good food as much as I do, so we shared a little bit of everything, which is music to the ears of a piglet like me who has the appetite of someone who’s been no-carb for the past year.

From giant burgers, cheesy pizzas and crispy pies to Thai stir-fries, Indian curries and Caribbean fare, it was pretty dangerous turning up with a rumbling tummy. I shamelessly tried pretty much everything but had no regrets, of course – it’s not often I can eat everything in the same place.

I’d say my favourite thing was the Chinese grilled vegetable dumplings from Rock In Buddha – so flavoursome, light and perfect with a dollop of sweet chilli sauce.

I haven’t even started on the sweet stuff, yet.

I decided to incite some level of discipline (mainly just because I was starting to pop out of my skirt) and didn’t purchase any of the homemade cakes or cookies on offer, however they did look extremely tempting.

They also had the most delicious looking ice creams from Brighton’s well-loved Boho Gelato, which I still haven’t tried.

The only “sweet treat” I got my hands on was a carrot, spinach and pineapple juice (I say “sweet” very lightly) which took about 25 minutes to make and clearly had a ratio of one part pineapple to ten parts carrot as it tasted alarmingly like a salad.

That’ll teach me – next time I’ll go for the chocolate cookie. (I’m only joking – eat your greens, kids.)

The Online Vegan Market was there, essentially a corner shop for vegans, which sounds dull but actually, being able to pick and choose anything is a luxury us plant-munchers don’t have yet.

I felt like a kid in a sweetshop again, not to mention their staff are so friendly and super chatty.

If food doesn’t ignite the kind of dramatic excitement in you as it does me, there were plenty of other things to see, including lots of beauty and wellness businesses such as Eden Perfume, local alcohol brands, sports, fitness talks, artwork, and even several speeches and Q&A panels throughout the day about veganism and all it has to offer: a great opportunity to learn a bit more about it if you’ve got no clue.

Unfortunately, Vegfest is actually taking a break from Brighton for 2020 to focus on their London events (holds back tears) however they will be returning in May 2021… keep note.

If you can’t wait that long, hop on a train at Brighton Station and get yourself to London Olympia for October 2019.

I’ve attended one of the London events and not only was it gigantic (I may have got lost more than once) but the variety of stalls and vendors was incredible.

It’s great meeting so many different people with unique businesses and getting a flavour for all the options and diverse choices out there.

Whether you have been vegan for years, eat a little bit of everything or are just generally curious and interested to sample some plant-based grub, you are welcome at Vegfest and it really is there for everyone to enjoy… just don’t turn up with a raw pig’s head and eat it, please.

Is this seriously what some people do with their spare time? I worry.

Read about the man eating a raw pig's head here

Over and out.

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