THE CITY // Aberdeen Vegan Festival

18.12.17

Aberdeen vegan festival - November 2017

At the tail end of November, as the weather was turning bitterly cold in this granite grey city, Aberdeen Vegan Festival rolled into town to warm our animal-loving hearts and our plant-eating bellies.

The second event of its kind this year, I must confess to being a little apprehensive about attending given the feedback I had read following the festival in May. Comments had been made about a lack of stallholders and vendors and a distinct lack of stock from those who were there, with many products selling out before the majority of hungry vegans had even appeared. I was a tad worried but, preparing myself for potential disappointment, decided to pop down to Pittodrie and give them a chance. 

With a reasonably priced £3 entrance fee, I was pretty much pacified already when they handed me a free copy of 'Vegan Life' magazine (usually valued at £4.99) on entry. Don't say I'm not easily pleased! 

Heading up to the first floor, we walked into an exhibition space and were hit with a wave of, "Oh lordy, is this it?!" There were maybe half a dozen or so tables, including Foodstory (who I love, but can visit any time without paying an entrance fee!) and a stall selling slush puppies and plastic cups, which didn't particularly scream "Vegan!" to me. 

"Oh dear. What a let down," I thought quietly.

And then we spotted a group of people coming downstairs with some tasty looking treats and suddenly all was redeemed! 

Aberdeen vegan festival - November 2017

Heading up to the second floor, we were greeted - much to my relief - by an exhibition space full of stalls, representing a broad range of purposes and products. From bakeries and street-food, to cosmetics and cleaning goods, to animal sanctuaries and vegan outreach campaigners, my attention was pulled in all manner of directions as we wandered around the stalls.

There were so many tempting treats to choose from, but leaving for Spain the next day I couldn't really justify taking much home with me and had to be much more selective than I might otherwise have been with my purchases. This was probably a relief for my bank balance, as I could so easily have spent a small fortune just on food! As it was, we did a full loop of the stalls first, before going back to purchase the things that most caught our eyes.

Aberdeen vegan festival - November 2017

In the end, I filled my face right there and then with a Korean Fried (nae) Chicken bao bun (bloomin' love a bao bun!) from Tempehtation, while Lesley tucked into some delicious-looking stovies and oatcakes from FacePlant Foods. I couldn't resist the pull of those Cool Jerk Vegan Pies and took home a pulled jackfruit one for dinner (excellent choice!), followed up by a dainty wee mince pie from the Herbivore Kitchen, where Lesley also purchased a big ole chocolate brownie, which looked amazing!

Aberdeen vegan festival - November 2017

These were the only goodies I took home on the day, besides some cruelty-free cosmetic samples, but I could happily have filled my shopping bags and my tummy with burritos and macaroni and "turkey" feast sandwiches; with macarons and cheesecake; doughnuts and unicorn cupcakes! It's such a novelty to be presented with so many veggie-friendly options in one place and everything looked so tasty I could easily have been bankrupted!

But I have a confession to make. 

While I gladly parted with my cash over lots of good food, I have to admit that all I parted with at the charity and animal sanctuary stalls were a few "Awww!s" and a bit of a guilty shuffle. I wasn't alone in this - it seems that the vast majority of attendees did exactly the same. 

Aberdeen vegan festival - November 2017

Since the event, I've read some pretty grim reports by charitable organisations who actually lost money on the day, by the time they'd paid the stallholders fee and received very little from customers in exchange. I genuinely didn't think about it at the time - it was the novelty of vegan food that drew me there and it was at vegan food that I predominantly looked - but, with the benefit of hindsight, this makes me feel more than a little ashamed. The vegan lifestyle is ideally one of ethical and selfless choices - making decisions for the good of the planet and other living things - but I feel like I behaved selfishly and far from ethically that day. Sure, they might have raised a little awareness and gained a small amount of publicity, but the truth is I paid so little attention that I don't even know what these stallholders were hoping to gain: were they looking for sponsorship (which I probably couldn't have committed to, to be honest), or could I have purchased a raffle ticket or made a one-off donation on the day? If everyone who attended had made a small contribution, perhaps these charities would have at least broken-even and their volunteers would have felt justified in giving up their day. 

I really enjoyed my visit to Aberdeen's Vegan Festival: none of my pre-attendance concerns were justified; I was more than happy with the variety of food and other products on offer; and my own consumer-driven behaviour is the only thing that I would change. 

Fret not if you missed the event - they're coming back to Pittodrie on Sunday 20th May. Check it out if you get the chance... and please be a more conscious attendee than me! 

xo

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