I never really know what to expect of vegan fair events like these. I’ve had lukewarm experiences where there were about four to five different stalls all selling some variation of vegan cake, I’ve had slightly better experiences where there were a lot of stalls but the venue was too small, too cold, smelt funny. So I find that its best to go without any expectation. I’d never been to city hall before this (as a third year I don’t know if this is appalling), so I didn’t really know what the venue was going to look like.
As I was walking towards the building at about 12pm, an hour and a half after the event began, I noticed a massive, and I mean massive, throng of people outside city hall. As I got closer, I found the culprit.
Six different vendors had set camp outside the building. There were 10 inch, mouthwatering pizzas, dark chocolate and banana crepes, spectacular cashew mince tacos, golden brown pies, and thick, juicy burgers for all. Or at least those willing to queue up for them. I made the taco queue and had planned to go around the rest of the stalls picking up what my heart desired, but then I heard someone say there were hotdogs inside, so naturally my plans changed.
Once I walked inside and paid the very modest £3 entry fee, I was honestly shocked. It was like vegan Disneyland. There was frozen yoghurt, ice cream sundaes, gelato, beer and cider, Greek food, cake (so much cake), brownies, and hotdogs. Now I understand a vegan hotdog might not evoke the most decadent image, but these were pink, shiny, beautiful dogs in a soft, white bun with all the helpings. Finally, I had a new vegan experience, where vegan “junk food” didn’t involve kale, black beans, or hummus.
I made my way around the first floor, trapping poor bystanders into letting me take pictures of them and their food. It wasn’t just food though. There was vegan apparel and sustainable clothing. fragrances, and makeup. As a new vegan, I would’ve found it very helpful to be introduced to cruelty-free alternatives! The greatest thing though is that all these businesses were small businesses, often ran from home by a single ambitious person. This means that with every purchase you can see the person you’re helping, fulfilling one dream at a time (sappy, I know, but true.)
Then there was a second floor. I made my way up the stairs where they had multiple talks about veganism, for new vegans and veteran vegans alike. The second floor was a bit less crowded, but still with multiple stalls. I particularly loved The Really Good Box, where Hannah from Newport, founder and face of the company, was greeting people and talking about her monthly vegan subscription box.
There was vegan Bailey’s, vegan cosmetics, the best vegan cheese I’ve tried by Rosie from Raw Food Rosie’s. My favourite thing, however, out of the dozens of stalls and the talks and the food, was the people. The atmosphere was unlike any other vegan event I’d ever attended. It was fun, fulfilling, and educational but above all, there was this undeniable sense of community. Everyone was up for a chat and the vendors were informative and kind. The event was fantastic, but it was the people and the community that made it truly phenomenal.
Words by Nicole Garcia.