Vegans gather for VegfestUK 2018 at Olympia London
The Lion went vegan this weekend (27-28th Oct) as we joined thousands at the Olympia London to celebrate this year’s VegfestUK.
Over 14,500 attendees gathered at the 6th annual vegan festival to visit 280 exhibition stands and enjoy over 100 talks and presentations spread across four exhibition halls.
Utilising more floor space and exhibitors than ever before, there was certainly enough variety and entertainment to make this a memorable event.
There were talks on topics revolving around health, environment, radical veganism and justice; documentaries promoting the vegan way of life; interactive cookery classes for kids; a range of food stalls showcasing a plethora of exciting cuisines; and even two bodybuliding competitions!
Let’s start with the food vendors just to highlight the sheer diversity of cuisines we all had to choose from.
There was a healthy queue at Arancini Brothers with their eye-catching burgers, wraps and, of course, famous risotto balls.
Having been established since 2009, they won the Timeout Love London Award in 2014.
Something different could be found at Eat Chay with two types of Bao Buns – the Kimchi Bao and the Hoisin Bao, the latter made up of a jackfruit and pickled cucumber, among other things.
Vegan Turkish kebabs could be had at The Hippie Turks where you could also grab a box of Stew & Ricet – traditional Turkish stew with a vegan twist and served with fluffy cous cous.
We’re sure you’ve all had hummus, but hummus SOUP? Straight out of Cyprus was this stand, with a huge pot of some deliciously rich hummus soup with olives therein, and which turned out to be the surprise package of the event.
These attractive hot dogs drew us in, with flavours said to be inspired by places across the globe. The German, The American, and The Katsu Curry were the choices on offer – the final one being the most intriguing for us.
The menu might come across as a little crude, but the food appeared to be anything but. Herbivorous is a vegan mobile street food company which draws its inspiration from the vegan fast food industry in America and principally, California.
For us, this salad stall was the most mouthwatering of all that we saw, displayed as they were in these attractive cabbage leaves. But, while their stand was packed with anticipating herbivores…
… this particular one was practically abandoned. With such dry, crusty, and unappealing sausages, there’s no prizes for guessing why. We walked by an hour later only to find that not a single one had apparently shifted.
For dessert, this was arguably the place to be – Ms Cupcake. Said to be London’s first vegan bakery, it has to be said, their food looked mightily appetising.
And there was also this odd looking box of bits and pieces! Essentially a disparate assortment of mac ‘n’ cheese and some mince veggie concoction resting atop a bed of nachos.
There were also a healthy assortment of interesting product stalls, with some of the better ones we encountered collated below.
Dipalicious is owned and established (with a little help from mother dearest) by 10-year-old Omari McQueen. The young up-and-coming entrepreneur has created a selection of healthy vegan dips for everyone to enjoy.
More coconut here, with this particular stall being run by a trio of Muslim women from Malaysia. They were promoting bottles of this garlic and herb coconut paste by Sedap – an ingredient that’s commonly used in that part of the world. From the sample we tried, it actually tasted soothingly sweet.
Miiro won the Free From Food Awards last year as well as the Great Taste award. With only 166 calories, and made from raw cacao, their three flavours were: Chocolate Hazelnut, Peanut Butter, and Salted Caramel.
This won best vegan dessert at the festival with its impressive looking, pink mobile vendor, with a not so engaging attendent couped up far at the back. Booja-Booja offers crafted dairy-free ice cream with lots of flavours to choose from, along with other bits and pieces.
Garlic Growers is a startup grower based in Rushwick, Worcester whose main products are Garlic Pickles and Garlic Oils, with the former actually being full of flavour.
This roasted, smooth Peanut Butter spread by Bonanza was said to be “packed full of high oleic peanuts which means the highest level of good fats as well as protein and fibre”.
Coconut Merchant is a fairly well established brand available through large retailers both online and across various food stores. Here they were promoting a number of their products.
What caused us to gravate over to Wallaroo’s stall was its strong branding. These were dried fruit packets that came in three flavours and presented in packaging that’s “100% home compostable”.
Some absolutely delicious bottles of garlic based mayo sauces, presented attractively designed jars. Way to go BeFries!
These bags of crunchy cashew nuts by Dolce La Dolce are meant to serve as snacks that provide a more nutritious alternative to your usual crisps or snack bars.
Some incredibly imaginative and enticing pots of soup samples were being poured with abandoned flurry at Souful One’s stall.
These guys have won the Great Taste Award for their products in 2011, and twice on 2014 and 2017.
Doesn’t come as much of a surprise really with flavours like:
- Thai Chilli Kale with Edamame, Peas & Quinoa
- Teriyaki Kimchi Ramenwith Tofu & Noodles
- Mexican bean & sweet potato with quinoa
- Sri Lankan cauliflower & kale with quinoa
- Brazilian tomato & black bean with cashews & quinoa
Of all the stalls, however, the longest, most dedicated queue was, quite unsurprisingly, the Free Gifts’ (alas, we didn’t have the time or the patience to grab ours), which snaked right the way through the middle of the exhibition hall and past the vegan dog food stall.
VegfestUK even hosted its own vegan awards ceremony on Saturday – its 12th to be precise – with 180 nominees in total.
After six weeks of online voting, which garnered over 7,000 votes in total, 18 winners were finally announced, with the following being the results (top 3 only) of the food categories:
Best Vegan Superfood Brand
- Vivo Life
- GOOD Hemp Dairy Free
Best Vegan Ready Meals
- One Planet Pizza
- Tideford Organics
- Mr Nice Pie
Best Vegan Restaurant/ Cafe
- The Flying Duck
- 222 Vegan Cuisine
Best Vegan “Cheese”
- Follow Your Heart
- Bute Island Foods
- Tyne Chease
Best Vegan Cakes
- The Vegan Cakery
- Ms. Cupcake
- Baking Bad
Best Vegan Snacks
- Nakd Wholefoods
- Quinoa Crack
Best Vegan Caterer
- What the Pitta
- Happy Maki
Best Vegan “Meat”
- Temple Of Seitan
Best Vegan Dessert
- Booja Booja
- The Coconut Collaborative
Best Vegan Chocolate
- Moo Free Chocolates
- The Raw Chocolate Company
- So Free Chocolate