Thousands turn out as Portsmouth Guildhall hosts third Vegan Festival

Participants and visitors enjoy the various delights of the Portsmouth Vegan Festival. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Participants and visitors enjoy the various delights of the Portsmouth Vegan Festival. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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THE GUILDHALL has been transformed into a haven of all things plant-based and cruelty-free.

It comes as the increasingly popular Portsmouth Vegan Festival returned to the city centre landmark for the third time yesterday.

Nick Blick and Aysha Woolgar from Lymington enjoy a vegan lunch. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Nick Blick and Aysha Woolgar from Lymington enjoy a vegan lunch. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Organisers Vegan Events UK said the fixture brought a record turnout of non-vegan revellers, who were spoiled for choice with dozens of stalls offering tasty snacks, natural products and sweet treats. 

To see our picture gallery of the day click on the link at the top of the article or the icon on the main picture.

Mother-of-two Lucy Lopez travelled to the festival with her husband Richard, from Liss, north-east of Petersfield. 

The pair, who were previously vegetarian, took on a vegan lifestyle nine months ago and have been inspired to launch their own business selling plant-based cakes, biscuits, and savoury snacks soon.

‘Becoming vegan was a bit of an education. I thought I’d be cooking with far less ingredients, but I’m actually making a wider range of things,’ said Mrs Lopez, 42. 

‘Our plan today was to have a look around the food stalls and try what we can, but we’ve loved learning about the ethics behind all the natural products.

‘It’s only our second vegan fair but everything is under one roof here. It’s fantastic.’ 

As well as a showcase of colourful stalls in the Guildhall’s main auditorium, festivalgoers had access to rooms dedicated to vegan cakes, cold and hot food, and educational talks and yoga. 

Josh Letzer from Bedhampton was one of many meat eaters who went to the festival to ‘find out what’s on offer’. 

‘Essentially I came along because I wanted to see what can be achieved without the use of animal products – I’m open now to more vegan and vegetarian food,’ the 24-year-old said. 

‘I just had a vegan bacon cheeseburger and it made me realise how many substitutes there are and they’re actually really good. I enjoyed it.’ 

Though cheese and meat are typical favourites for food lovers living non-vegan lifestyles, Marco Gosling-Pizzolo and his partner, Poppy, were at the event to prove both foods have vegan equivalents with their business, Lettices. 

‘Cheese is often a bridge from the vegetarian or meat-eating diet to the vegan diet, so we always recommend a melting cheese,’ he said. 

‘As soon as people find out it’s a vegan cheese that can melt – and tastes great on top of pizza – they’re intrigued.’ 

Said to have attracted in the region of 2,000 people, Portsmouth Vegan Festival ran from 11am until 4pm. 

Its organiser Victoria Bryceson, from Cumbria, said Portsmouth is a ‘favourite’ stop for the travelling fair.

On the day’s ‘encouraging’ turnout, she said: ‘We desperately want non-vegans to come in to and see everything and try everything, so we’ve been really pleased with that aspect of the turnout today and we’ve had positive feedback. 

‘Getting that thought process in people’s heads that there is an alternative is really good.’