VegFestUK came to sunny Bristol this weekend of the 23rd and 24th of May and what a wonderful location, right on the river front in the heart of Bristol. VegFest has been a success for many years now and originally launched its first festival in Bristol all those years ago in 2003. Founded by Tim Barford, it was great to see it returning year upon year to this magnificent location, one of my most favourite towns, as Bristol is the heart of all wildlife TV in the UK. Tim told me about his appearance on Heart FM and also BBC Bristol and it was evident to see that all of the hard work from both him and his work colleague Alan Lee had paid off massively as thousands of people heaved through the gates after 11am. Tim was on great form and both of us did a rather interesting ‘vegan rap’ to camera in oversized ‘We Love VegFest’ T-shirts which was the highlight of my day. Alan also had great fun down at the Veganuary stand, popping his head through their novel ‘The Animals Love Me’ sign.
The carnival atmosphere this year was simply jaw-droppingly magnificent. Large white marquis towered everywhere, food stands stood galore and there was a fabulous live act music stage with kid’s trampolines right by the stage, so they could bounce along to the music. I could feel the buzz of anticipation in the air. Many stallholders were feeling super relaxed by the Sunday and some were holding their heads from a tad too much ‘vegan alcohol’ the night before as Saturday night had carried on until 10pm in the evening awash with music and celebrations. I loved the photo posted from my friend Mark Muschamp of Sea Shepherd of his cute little VW camper he had been sleeping in for the last couple of nights in a deserted Bristol carpark. I heard that size doesn’t matter, as colleagues had been bringing the vegan beer back to this tiny van and it was one of the best hang outs to go after the festivities had closed down for the night.
The sponsors for this years Vegfest were Lifefood, Fiona Oake’s Tower Hill Stables, Bute Island Foods, Koko Dairy Free, Nakd Wholefoods, Suma, Jason, Moo Free Choc, Pana Choco, Excellart, Yaoh and Out of Hand. All very great companies, some helping animals, others producing the best in ethical and vegan produce. I was pleased to be using my Koko Dairy Free Coconut Milk in my Little Green Angel Super Juicing Demo and it went down a treat, the cookery tent was bursting to explode and everyone loved my free juice samples. I hope I can inspire a few more people to have a go and start super juicing this year, as it has changed my life.
My dear friend Will Travers of Born Free snuck along undeclared to support my demo which was fabulous and it was such a lovely surprise to find him standing there grinning at me after the talk had wrapped up. Ironically I had presented the crowds with my ‘Born Free’ juice created by Will Travers unbeknown that he was sitting in the crowds! It contains apple, kiwi and carrot and is the sweetest recipe ever. We had a lovely chat on camera after the demo about his recent trip to South Africa where Born Free is trying to help halt the trade in white rhino horn.
I also met up with my local rescue Animal Aid who are situated a stones throw from my house in Kent. The lovely Fiona told me all about their latest campaigns and the demonstrations at Aintree Grand National this year. Animal Aid does some great work and they also adopted a dog off me a couple of years back which I selected from Red Panda Rescue Romania, it was so cool to find out how he was doing and they tell me that he is one of their lovely Animal Aid office dogs and mooches around at their feet all day which is so amazing to know 🙂
In-between having a deep tissue massage, a fake ‘duck’ sushi wrap, a vegan cider and lots and lots of vegan delicacies, I caught up with my pals from Veganuary and decided that it was time to get into the spirit and stick my head through their ‘Animals Love Me’ sign’ to the somewhat bemusement of various passers-by. I also remember vaguely dancing to reggae music by some food vendors… Hmmm… I think the carnival atmosphere and the vegan cider was having its effect, only the film footage will tell!
It was a delight to catch up with Amanda Hinds, the girl behind ‘365 Vegans’ and I was delighted to become her 51st interview. The challenge she has set herself is to interview 365 vegans by the end of the year and I really hope that she meets her target. I also had a lovely chat with the wonderful and spiritual Jarvis Smith from The Phoenix Rose who was performing live on the Sunday. It was incredible to find out just how much he is a devoted ‘yogi’ just like me and what a fascinating life he leads. An inspiration and a true leader in the Vegan community.
Another highlight was the Vegan Bodybuilder’s arm press demo where they invited audience members to challenge one another in the amount of lifts they could do against one another. I also had a fascinating discussion with Anastasia on the protein myth. If anyone could be ambassadors for ‘Green Muscle’ then these guys are certainly the ones.
Then something unbeknown to me dragged my scent glands uncontrollably down into the amphitheatre and into one of the bottom tents and only once I arrived there, did I realise why… It was the RAWSOME stand. So great to meet the lady behind my wonderful raw chocolate love heart cake my family scoffed earlier last month with great gusto. I sampled so many of her wonderful raw produce, so healthy and tasty.
Later on, I met with Kylie, one of the founders of TEEN VGN – what a great organisation created to provide a real support system for teenage vegans. A superb concept, as when I was growing up I could have really done with a community to meet with as I was the only veggie in my school and constantly teased because of this. They provide a Vegan ‘Camp’ for teenagers to escape to with like minded friends, an online community and a monthly magazine. The website is extremely professional and they have a multitude of vegan sponsors all clambering to get on board with this team as they work really hard and have a great reputation.
Lush had a gorgeous and colourful stand at the festival and as usual my nose knew they were there from about 1.5 miles outside of Bristol! These guys rock! Their products are all Cruelty free and they are always getting behind animal causes such as the VOTES FOR ANIMALS demo I attended last month with Bryan May, Marc Abraham and Peter Egan. Also Neek Skin organics had some fabulous ethical lipsticks named after Australian pop artist songs which I adored and one managed to make it home in my bag called ‘Friday on My Mind’. The packaging is simply delectable, so natural and gorgeous to hold. It screams ETHICAL and earthly.
I chatted to the amazing guys behind Vegan Life Magazine and The Vegan Society and learned all about the support they provide for the vegan community through their fabulous magazines as well as catching up with my pals from Viva!, The Hunt Sabs, Greenpeace, BlackFish, League Against Cruel Sports and Fin Fighters. I just love Fin Fighters, as I have a real soft spot for predator conservation as people attack and kill top predators simply for what they do naturally in life. Sharks are beautiful creatures and deserve the right to protection as much as any other animal on this planet.
I well and truly adored VEGFEST UK BRISTOL 2015. So, so fun!!! In fact, it was so much fun I ended up with 5 and half hours of film footage that needs editing now, yikes!!! Time flies by when you’re having fun.
Watch this space for all my interviews and Vlogs coming soon on Green World TV & the official VegFest You Tube Channel and websites.
And remember my motto ‘Put a V on your T’ and become Vegan,
Love Anneka x