A few months ago, before toying with the idea of being vegan for a month, I saw a tweet by The Vegan Society regarding the upcoming VegFest in Kensington Olympia in October. As a vegan-enthusiast veggie, the BOGOF ticket offer was not to be missed. I dragged along my omnivorous partner-in-crime (my sister), and walked through Kensington for a day of salivating, education, and taste testing – what seemed like – unlimited amounts of vegan food. And it’s not all kale and coconut yoghurts.
My sister and I were overwhelmed at the vast number of stalls present and devoted attendees. Deemed to be the largest vegan festival in Europe, it was no surprise. We were greeted by stalls of activist groups, teas, food stalls (Dosa Deli and Happy Maki were represented), protein and energy bar companies, and more! Even Wild Food Café was rustling up some delicious-looking wraps, but the lunchtime rush queue was slightly off-putting.
The usual suspects were around, such as NAKD goodies, Pulsin and Beond products, PANA chocolate bars, and Greenpeace. There were auditoriums for talks, book signings, cookery sessions, and films. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed the screening of Cowspiracy, which would have been a different experience with my sister; she noted down the documentaries that were screened, however, and hopes to watch them soon.
It was motivating to see a variety of activities and events on offer – from raw, organic, vegan music bands, vegan-friendly perfumes, and cycle-yourself-a-smoothie schemes, there was something for everybody in the festival, vegans and non-vegans alike!
I grabbed myself a bar or two of PANA because they proposed an offer I could not refuse (2 for £5, holla!) but smaller scale traders/ non-mainstream brands caught my interest the most.
Tea People was the first stall which greeted us. Manned by the owners, this social enterprise tea company aims to educate impoverished children in their hometown, the tea-growing region of Darjeeling. Through sales of their loose leaf teas, they fund various projects within the region, using 50% of their profits. My sister and I bought samples of a couple of their white teas and a chai variety – we shall report back on these very soon.
Another stall which caught our noses was one that offered Jaffa Cake soy wax candles; let that sink in for a moment. Vegan and cruelty-free, Harper’s Bizarre Candles is owned by an enterprising couple with a dedication to animal charities and an irritation-free, scented experience.
Promoting make-your-own mixes of marshmallows, the pink and white boxes from Ananda’s Marshmallows was a sweet addition to the ‘must-try’ list on the day. I have never had the chance to sample a vegan-friendly marshmallow – and this So You’re Dating A Vegan video made me curious.
The chewiness of your normcore marshmallows when you first bite into it was lacking – due to the texture added by gelatin we are so used to – as was noted by my sister too, however the taste is uncannily similar. What’s more, the idea of creating your own batch makes Ananda’s Marshmallows more desirable, chewy or not.
I know that many – if not, most – vegetarians and vegans are obsessed with falafels. The Great Food stall did not disappoint with its array of savoury balls that decorated their tables with beigey goodness. As we popped by post-lunch, many of the samples they had on offer were unavailable to buy in bulk. This did not stop me from consuming them, however.
I found some of the falafel balls quite dry and bland – perhaps due to extenuating circumstances – but many of their other products were spot-on tasty.
So that was a round-up of my fave small brands in the big minefield of vegan products that weekend. Others worthy of mention and love (due to exceptional service + products and kindness that day) include: The New Internationalist, PANA, Inspiral, Biona and Sheese.
The impressive range of products made it so motivating to conjure up a new concept for this blog. Sit back and watch this space folks!