Wednesday, 2 May 2018

An inspirational and uplifting morning at the Birmingham Vegan Festival

A Cruelty-Free, Vegan Day Out
by Pilar Bueno



For the last 10 years or so now, both John and I have been strong advocates of Green and Healthy living and we rejoice on the realisation that we are incredibly lucky to be able to make a living sharing our lifestyle, our passion and respect for nature, gaining knowledge and experience as we continue to evolve and learn to live more ethically and sustainably.



I will not lie to you that at times it gets tiresome to be looked at as a freak and questioned endlessly about our life choices and particularly dietary intake.

‘Yes, I do get enough protein (plant protein that is, that I get from the “source” which incidentally is more bioavailable than animal protein)’…,
‘No, I am not malnourished’ (and my latest blood tests results can vouch for that)….,
‘No, I don’t just eat lettuce’ (as a matter of fact, I probably get more variety and nutritionally rich foods in a day than most people would have in a whole month!).


Our visit to the Vegan Festival at the Edgbaston Cricket Grounds in Birmingham on Saturday 14th April was just what the doctor ordered. An event that filled us with positivity and inspiration, seeing all wide selection of delicious foods, creative crafts made out of recycled or otherwise waste materials and such enthusiasm and passion for a Cruelty-Free Life. Inspirational talks and lots of information was at hand, in order to allow us to make informed choices about improving our health, becoming aware and preventing animal cruelty and protecting our environment for us and future generations.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the place for full of “lentil-munching hippies”, “feeble looking sandal-wearing weirdos dressed in hemp” shouting for animal rights. Gone are the days of these stereotypes, instead we were delighted to be amongst healthy looking people, engaged, informed and interested in ways to enhance their consciously Healthy and Ethical life choices.

Veganism has taken social media by a storm. Veganuary inspired people to try being Vegan for the month of January (and throughout the rest of the year). It is undeniable that there is a huge shift towards plant-based diets and everything indicates that this is not just as a fad but it is here to stay.

Food Revolution shares some very interesting statistics on their website, such as the fact that in the UK, the number of Vegans has increased by 350% compared to 10 years ago. It fills me with great hope because the choices you make don’t just affect you; they have a wider effect on other people, the animals and our whole planet.

The £3 ticket event in Birmingham was all in aid of Farplace Animal Rescue, a charity based in Bishop Auckland with a mission to rescue and re-home abandoned animals and also to create environmental improvements for all the animals via education.


If you think a Vegan Festival is not your scene, think again, because this proved to be a great day out for us. You can bring all the family, they even have a children’s area so the kids can play safely while you go and sample some of the goodies on sale. What follows is just a handful of what we experienced:

Who says that if you are Vegan you are missing out? OR … you can’t indulge in delicious treats?

I thought I had died and gone to heaven! There were so many stores tempting you with delicious looking treats for those of us with a sweet tooth. Amongst them, Scrummy Crumb stood out for the large selection of cakes on display and their great smiles (I would be smiling too if I were surrounded by all those yummy vegan treats!). Based in Hull, they are a small family run business that I hope will take the Vegan world by a storm. Their delicious bakes can be ordered on Etsy which will deliver your purchase straight to your door. Anyone for cake?

I can highly recommend their chocolate brownies and Cherry Bakewell slices. I dared anyone to tell the difference between these vegan options and the “real thing” – Amazing.



Plastic Free and Zero Waste

John and I are making conscious decisions every day to reduce, reuse and recycle everything in our lives, and in the process, to avoid at all cost buying products that are made out of plastic or come packaged in plastic. An incredibly hard task because everything seems to be overly packaged in the supermarkets – my bugbear being cucumbers wrapped in those obscene clear plastic sleeves… Arghhh

I know we all try to do our best to recycle plastics at home, but as we all know, not all types of plastics are recyclable and end up in landfills in our oceans and take thousands of years to decompose, all the time leaking pollutants into the surrounding soil and water and killing the wildlife. If you saw David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II television series, you will be aware of the devastating threat that we are facing.

So don’t just recycle, try to avoid plastic in as many aspects of your life as you can. For instance, why not change your standard toothbrush for an eco-friendly one?

You might not know that your toothbrush is made from polypropylene plastic and nylon bristles (both non-renewable fossil fuel sources) and that around 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills every year in the USA alone – those are staggering numbers!



That is why we opted to buy an environmentally friendly bamboo toothbrush from Zero Waste Club.

I have been after one of these for a while but I wanted to make sure that my money went to an ethical company. I love their ethos and fully support their entrepreneurial spirit and passion to help save our planet. Their Replaceable Head Bamboo Toothbrushes are very innovative, simple yet beautifully designed and very importantly 100% Biodegradable. They are made from Sustainable Bamboo, a plant that grows super-fast in close proximity to each other (over 3 feet every day!)

The bristles are Bisphenol A (BPA) free and recyclable. I love the fact that I only have to replace the Head of the toothpaste generating, therefore, less waste (not that it will be wasted really, as it will help to “feed” my composter). They use plastic-free packaging for all their mail orders and all “unavoidable” packaging is 100% recyclable. On top of it, Zero Waste Club will plant a tree for every item you purchase!


If you want to explore more ways in which you can reduce your waste, take a look at Going Zero Waste website


Natural Beauty

I am always on the lookout for companies that provide natural, chemical and #crueltyfree cosmetics and personal hygiene products, that I can recommend in my Green Up Your Beauty Book. Today, I was in for a treat as the selection was wide, but in particular, one company stood out for me.

Siobhan is the woman behind The Artisan Soap Shack. They produce an incredible range of 100% Natural, Organic, Vegan Soaps and Organic Beard Oils, all handmade here in the UK.

Siobhan proudly tells me “We don’t Test on animals, We Test on our Friends! And I can tell that her fortunate circle of friends are more than willing to be her “guinea pigs” because the soaps are fantastic. I have tried the Oatmeal and Shea Butter soap with Frankincense and Clove Leaf. It has a beautiful subtle fragrance and leaves your skin lovely and soft. 


Siobhan tells me she is currently working on a new Solid Shampoo, so watch out for the new product range coming into the market by visiting her website.

You Will Not Miss Meat

Seitan’s Grill is a travelling Vegan Burger Grill that offers very exciting meat-free fast food meals, all 100% homemade from organic produce from local suppliers, wherever possible.


We had the most amazing Pulled Jackfruit chilli with a “quick-as” chilli sauce and a delicious Seitan sandwich. Their seitan burgers are by far the best we have ever tried. We purchased some pre-packed ones to cook back at home the following day, only wishing we had bought more.


Liam and his Seitan Grill will go far. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious and a force to reckon with. Thanks for such an amazing meal – like your logo says “tasty as hell”!

And because we needed to “wash down” our meal with a cold beverage, we headed straight to the Red Moon Brewery stall for a Hand Crafted (Chemical Free) Ale. Those of you who know me well, know that I am always partial to a swift half, and here I found my new brand: “Poison’s Pleasure”.



Their brewery is based in Birmingham but the great news is that they are currently in negotiations with Amazon to delivery their handcrafted beers directly to your door. 

Arts and Crafts

For the creative minds and those that like to wear unusual accessories and jewellery, the Vegan Festival is a treasure cave. You will be amazed at the creativity, genius ideas presented, all made from recycled and repurposed materials. Handbags, Belts, earrings and an endless list of beautiful creations made with cork, electric wires, inner tubes and old tyres! Check out Paguro Upcycle

Conservation in Action

Last, but not least, was a group of heroes under the name of Sea Shepherd who are campaigning hard to end the appalling destruction of our ocean wildlife and habitats. As a registered marine conservation charity, they rely on volunteers and word of mouth to carry their message and help them raise funds to continue their vital work. Please visit their Facebook page, like, share or even join their group of volunteers.

Have we got your interest? If so, I hope you will be tempted to visit a Festival soon. For all enquires about future Vegan Festivals, visit their Facebook page or email them at festivals@farplace.org.uk

Regards
Pilar and John 



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