Cardiff Viva! Vegan Festival | Review

By Ashavari Baral

‘’Clothing starts conversation, especially vegan clothing’’ says Jane, who started her own vegan clothing store 5 years ago. Her company Viva La Vegan was one of many at Cardiff Viva! Vegan Festival on the 16th of February at City Hall. My friend Deni and I attended the festival, when we walked in, we were taken aback with the variety of stalls there were, ranging from vegan ice cream and waffles to vegan cosmetics. ‘’THIS IS ALL VEGAN?’’ Deni exclaimed and it was safe to say ‘’Yes, yes, it is’’.

Our first stop was the amazing nacho bar that had gained a lot of attention, Bibs Nacho Hut. After introducing myself as a writer for Quench, Bib quickly whipped up some spicy chicken (fake) nachos for me. ‘’I make the toppings myself, I know people have gluten intolerance so I wanted to create something that everyone could enjoy’’, he continues, ‘’I used to make nachos every Friday and when the 17th person told me they were good, I decided to start a business’’. I asked Bib, while munching on my delicious nachos,‘’Why nachos?’’. She smiled and said ‘’I wanted to create the message that nachos don’t have to be unhealthy, my nachos are low in saturated fat and equally delicious, my slogan is therefore ‘’Junk food turned good’’.

I then hurried along to Babita’s Spice Deli, that had an array of delectable Indian food I could recognize like ‘’Daal’’ and ‘’ Pulao’’ (a type of mixed rice). Babita and her husband were gracious enough to step aside from their busy stall and answer a few questions for me. Babita said that no one was doing vegan Indian food when she started in Swansea 3 years ago. She was tired of Britain’s very meat dominated versions of Indian food and decided to start Babita’s Spice Deli, selling spices as well as fresh home cooked Indian food and challenges the cliché that Indian food doesn’t have to be full of sugar and fat.

“Okay, then I had enough of spicy food. Let’s look for something tasty to satisfy my sweet tooth!”- I said to Deni.  So, we made our way to Completely Cakes and sat down with Val who has been running the company for the past 2 years. Val says: ‘’I tried to make the normal run of the mill desserts, vegan like chocolate logs, we don’t have a shop and do all our orders online – our best item are the custard slices!’’.

Another enthusiastic connoisseur of desserts was Amy from Ice Green, who admitted to Quench that he brand ‘’ was never supposed to be a vegan brand, I just saw the niche market and turned my ice-cream vegan for the greater good and I also turned vegan myself’’. When I asked about her stand out ice-cream, she did not hesitate to reply and said: ‘’Oh, peanut butter for sure’’.

We couldn’t miss stopping by ‘’The Vegan Sweet Shop’’ – offering a variety of sweet treats which captivated us when we first walked in. Megan, the owner, whose company is based in Bath, started the shop last November. “There were limited places where you could buy vegan sweets, so I decided to start a place where you could pick and mix delicious sweets that used gelatin potato starch instead of sugar and weren’t bad for you. Our containers are recyclable as well’’, she admitted to Quench. While leaving Megan asked me to try her famous vegan bubble gum bottle and believe me it didn’t seem any different to a normal bubble gum bottle I have tried in other sweet shops – couldn’t tell the difference at all!

During the festival, I have realized  how big City Hall was, so after browsing around the first floor, Deni and I decided to make our way upstairs where we met the owners of Green Jiva, Andrew and Jessica. They started the company 6 years ago with a pure message at heart: a better planet. They were aware of the damages plastic use had on the environments and began making bags from recycled carrier bags and perfumes from plants. Cardiff Viva! was their first fair and we could see that they were excited to see what the future will hold for their company.

Viva! is not only about stalls. They are also about propagating and promoting the vegan message and encouraging people to embrace a vegan and eco friendly lifestyle. Deni and I stopped by at a talk by Juliet Gellatley, the founder & director of Viva!, who is also a nutrition therapist and spoke about the scary effects of consuming dairy. The talk  became rather a emotional speech on how a mother cow is taken away from her calf when they are just born and milked dry, struck a chord with many audience members who were shocked by some of the facts they heard like – how cows are dispersed across different parts of Europe and kept in horrible conditions. It honestly, put me off milk forever.

Finally, Deni and I made our way to watch Edward Daniel, author and founder of EthiVegan. He makes nut-mylks and energy balls. Cooking demonstrations ran throughout the day, but Deni and I were especially fascinated with the process and preparation of creating nut-mylk.

Here what he showed us:

  • Take 125g of Macadamia nuts (£4)
  • 3 Dates (50-80p)
  • Add the dates and macadamia nuts in a blender (you can add cinnamon as well)
  • Take a milk bag (ebay)
  • Remove pulp from actual mylk (you can add some coconut oil and make energy balls with the pulp!)

And Voilà! There you have it, dairy free macadamia mylk!

The Viva! Vegan festival was a great success, not only did it have an incredible range of exhibitors, it also had activist groups like Cardiff Animal Rights & South Wales Animal Save, which carry out protests against the slaughtering of animals and investigations. The food was fantastic, and the products were special – because they were all made to promote a better lifestyle and a greate cause. It even made a meat eater like me, be more aware of our lovely planet.

I couldn’t mention all the stalls but more information of the fair and stalls can be found out at: