Vegan Festival Adelaide hopes to impress patrons, despite the backlash (Image Source: Vegan Festival Adelaide’s Facebook Page)
By Viki Ntafillis | @viki_ntaf
South Australia’s biggest vegan festival is just around the corner, being held for the first time this year at Rundle Park on 26-27 October.
Vegan Festival Adelaide will host around 80 stalls—all featuring 100 per cent vegan goods, from food and drink to household cleaning products—as well as cooking demonstrations, kids activities, live music and more.
This year’s festival will feature special guests, including animal rights activist James Aspey, vintage-inspired vegan baker Sara Kidd, and Natasha and Luca from ‘That Vegan Couple’ who showcase their cruelty-free lifestyle on social media.
Following last year’s festival, where around 15,000 people attended, event coordinator Lea McBride said she has high hopes for the 2019 event.
“I think all vegans will want to come…it’ll be two days of living in a complete beautiful, blissful vegan bubble,” she said.
However, Ms McBride said this year’s festival preparations have been far from a walk in the park.
“We’ve had a lot of accusations of being militant extremists, vigilantes…that has impeded us this year more than ever before,” she said.
“The community really likes to mock vegans…despite [us] hosting a very fun, successful event for many years in South Australia.
“It’s a struggle to push things through.”
Despite the negative connotations, Ms McBride said she would not shy away from it.
“If you call an extremist someone who…is brave enough to stand up for what is right and bring to light the unjust occurrences to the animals and our planet, then I’m an extremist,” she said.
“I was asked whether extremists will be at the festival, and what I would do about it and I said ‘well I hope they are, because that’s who we are’.
“Vegans are about peace, kindness and non-violence…we just want injustice brought to light.”
Ms McBride said she hopes the festival will educate everyone, including those who are already vegan.
“You can meet with potentially 15,000 other like-minded, compassionate humans, learn from each other, celebrate with each other…just feel safe and not have to explain yourself,” she said.
“You can feel isolated if you are ‘the only vegan in the village’, so to speak.
“I also hope that a lot of non-vegans come…to see how normal and mainstream the lifestyle is now; I actually call them the ‘v-curious’.”
With 2019 being called the “Year of the Vegan”, Ms McBride said the festival reflected the rise in popularity of veganism everywhere.
“There has been a huge increase of vegan products,” she said.
“You can’t go anywhere without hearing the word ‘vegan’, seeing vegan items on a menu, in a supermarket, in the media; it’s constant.”
“There were also the enormous sales of Beyond Meat floating in the stock market, which was of the biggest things to reach the financial sector this year.
“South Australia has always been known to be a leader in social change, so it just makes sense that veganism is such a strong movement [here].”
Having been a vegetarian for 21 years and a vegan for seven, Ms McBride said her motivation to put together the festival was simple.
“I am just a very stubborn vegan determined to change the world and this is my biggest form of activism,” she said.
“We’re making an impact. We’ve still got a fight on our hands to get people to actually pay attention and care, but its working and we can see that.
“Vegan food is incredible. Anything you can make, you can make it vegan and better.
“The planet needs you, the animals need you – just come and give it a chance.”