Thousands come along for a taste of city's vegan festival

THOUSANDS of people attended one of the area's biggest festivals celebrating veganism over the weekend.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 9:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th March 2018, 10:44 pm
Event organiser Victoria Bryceson was really pleased with the mega-turnout to the festival

More than 3,000 visitors packed into the Guildhall to check out what was on offer during The Portsmouth Vegan Festival.

Celebrating its third year in the city, the event was the perfect showcase for everything vegan.

More than 100 stalls crammed into the city centre building, with traders selling everything from cosmetics, clothes and tea to cakes, chocolates and jewellery.

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Poppy Lettice and Marco Gosling-Pezzolo of Isle of Wight-based vegan food company 'Lettice's' Pictures: Duncan Shepherd

Victoria Bryceson is one of the organisers of the festival and said it was the biggest one yet.

She said: ‘I haven’t had much sleep because I have been constantly worrying if people would come and I’m worrying for the stallholders because there are so many people here that are reliant on this for their livelihoods.’

She added the event was about creating a ‘safe space’ for vegans so they don’t have to worry about what they are buying.

‘‘This is a place where you can come to and you can buy everything that you want,’ she said.

Poppy Lettice and Marco Gosling-Pezzolo of Isle of Wight-based vegan food company 'Lettice's' Pictures: Duncan Shepherd

‘You don’t have to check, everything is vegan.’

As well as all the stalls, there were plenty of activities for visitors to try, from talks and debates to yoga.

Animal welfare charities were also given a space to promote their causes.

Among them was Animal Equality, a group fighting for the rights of animals across the globe.

The organisation was running a hard-hitting virtual reality ‘tour’ of slaughterhouses and dairy farms in the UK to show what goes on behind the scenes.

Keith Muir, one of those running the stand, said the aim of the immersive display was about educating people.

‘A lot of people that still consume dairy products don’t understand the harsh, gruesome reality of what goes into producing the food on their plate,’ he said.

Martin Richards was among those to visit the stall and try the virtual reality tour.

The 29-year-old, of Portsmouth, said: ‘I’m a meat-eater and it left me feeling really emotional afterwards. It was graphic.

‘It’s definitely given me some food for thought.’

Guildhall’s café space was packed with vegan food stalls, selling freshly-cooked products, from no-meat burgers to vegan Caribbean and Mexican-style cuisine.

Samuel Moore, 10, of Fareham, was with his mum Amanda, 45, and sister Mary, 15.

He said: ‘I’ve never tried a vegan burger before but they’re actually really tasty.

‘I didn’t know the difference.’

Amanda added: ‘This has been our first time here and it’s been eye-opening.’

University of Portsmouth students Molly Price, 20, and Toby Pearce, 21, also attended. Toby was impressed by the range of products on offer.

‘Portsmouth is in the middle as a vegan population, there is not enough business here but the demand is there,’ he said.

‘So events like this are really needed.’

Victoria added all types of people had joined the event.She said: ‘The people are fantastic and this just shows how they can come together and support an event like this.

‘It also shows that it’s not just vegans coming – it’s the non-vegans coming as well.

‘They’re curious and they want to find out more and that’s great.’

n To find out about the next vegan festival, see vegfest.co.uk