Irish Vegan Festival, Belfast : Food + Companies + Campaigns.

I spontaneously spent a weekend in Belfast last April, straight of the plane from Zanzibar – I made my way here on the bus that goes direct from Dublin airport.

I stayed not near University road and it was the perfect location for my weekend of wandering through the Belfast streets to check out the vegan hotspots. I knew that Belfast seemed to have a pretty great veggie scene and it is true.

I had ever been to a vegan festival before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I arrived to the Europa hotel on Sunday morning, I couldn’t believe how many people were there and the queue to get inside was the whole way through the foyer!

It was really great to see and there was a whole range of people here – it definitely was a space for vegans and non-vegans to come.

I have put in some of the companies and organisations I discovered but there were a lot that I did not get around to! There is another festival happening in Belfast this October 7th so you can check out more of what is on offer and experience the festival for yourself.

It is organised by Farplace animal Sanctuary and all proceeds go towards this organisation – with entry costing you less than €5 ( entry is £3)- you really get so much for your money as well as supporting a very worthy cause.

And I fell in love with Belfast so it is definitely a great excuse to spend a weekend up here. Check out my Yoga Travel Guide to Belfast.

Some of the discoveries I made at this great festival!

Products – Food – Companies

 

Forester Products

Forester products may be one of my highlight discoveries at this festival. I spoke to these lovely people and heard a bit about the journey behind these vegan leather products – after leaving the finance world, Sean one of the founders came back to Ireland and began creating and designing these high quality and really beautifully designed  bags, wallets, belts and watches.

Bag Lust. Photo : Source

They use sustainable and ethically sourced fabrics (sustainable cork – and not using plastic) that do not further harm our planet or environment (like so many of the fast fashion clothes) and they also commit to donating 10% of profits to causes that align with their values. They recently announced their official partnership with One Tree Planted, meaning that for every item Forester Products sell they will plant a tree in some of the worst affected rainforests across the globe.

This is an example of an Irish company doing great things and also offering some top quality products that do not waiver in terms of style or longevity.

 

Kandy Kanes Confectionary Perfectionary

Can you get an idea of how epic these are? Photo Credit: Source

Okay these amazing creations are insane!

The detail and creativity in these alone are incredible. It is hard to imagine eating most of them because they just look like a piece of art and you don’t want to ruin it. These cakes are made in Belfast and you can order custom cakes. Do it , do it! Imagine showing up with one of these beauties at your party?

Seriously impressive! I have a lot to learn when it comes to cake decoration it seems – I’ll just be over here drooling in amazement at all the cake pics on the Facebook page.

These babies will be back at the October event!

 

Robyn Galway Ethical Jewellery

I remember seeing a yogini friend wearing a seriously cool pair of ‘Go Vegan’ earrings (which are made from scrap taxi signs and recycled silver) and it turns out they were created by this lady. Her collection is gorgeous and Robyn uses eco gold and silver in her jewellery and no animal products or byproducts are used in the making, finishing or packaging of their jewellery (which is what makes a lot jewellery not vegan friendly, I discovered.)

Check out her Etsy shop to see some of these stunning creations. Robyn was also awarded a six week artist residency in rural India, I loved checking out the beautiful photos of her time there on her Instagram.

 

Sarah’s World Fare

A travelling vegan market stall and catering service- the dream , no? This stall had queues for most of the day while I was at the festival and lots of tasty looking grub for sure. Black bean cheeseburgers and (mixed bean and lentil) chilli cheese fries were on the menu as well as peanut butter and jam/ nutella/ choc chip cookies for the sweet toothed ones. Yum!

How good do these look? No wonder the queue was so long here. Photo Credit: Source

Cool Jerk Vegan Pies 

I have been wanting to try these for ages. I’m a lover and regular visitor to Glasgow  – the home of these plant based pies and so I was very happy when I finally managed to get taste them. I can’t quite remember which one I choose, there are plenty of options and I managed to get in there before they flew out the door.

It was a treat and it was delicious – I had intended to save it for later and heat it up but when I took “just one bite” it quickly resulted in eating the whole thing. These guys (or perhaps it is just guy singular?) are a regular feature at a lot of the vegan festivals I have seen happening in Glasgow/ Scotland / UK and hopefully they will be back this year for you to get your own bite of the pie.

 

Besos De Oro

Basically a vegan alternative to Baileys/ cream liquers (it is also gluten, soya and nut free!).

Yum! Photo Credit : Source

Now the vegan Baileys has arrived to Irish shores since I attended this – it is nice (almondy) but this Besos De Oro was definitely a nicer in my opinion. I hope to pick up a bottle and keep it in stock for Christmas (Yes, I know – I said it!) I tried and failed miserably last year in attempting to make my own Baileys – it ended up in curdled glass of grossness. So if you see this guy, take a taste and pick up a bottle – if you don’t find yourself in Belfast, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Austrailia, Canada, France or Donegal then you can buy it online, and it is worth it! If you are in any of the stockist areas check out here where you can purchase.

 

Organisations / Charities 

Anonymous For the Voiceless

An animal rights organisation that specialises in street activism. If you have seen groups of people standing together wearing white masks and hoods while holding computers showing the realities of animal exploitation, then you have come across Anonymous for the Voiceless. These demonstrations take place across thousands of cities and towns – including Galway and more Irish towns and cities.

They usually work in a ‘Cube of Truth’ format and share information and the realities of animal exploitation and advice on a vegan lifestyle in a non-violent way.

 

Anonymous for the Voiceless: Day & Night from Paul Bashir on Vimeo.

 

Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd is a not for profit marine wildlife conservation organisation. As well as giving a talk at the festival they had a stall upstairs with their merchandise and representatives from the organisation to share the work and educating they offer around the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in our ocean’s everyday. Sea Shepherd want to end this and they also take action to expose illegal activity happening in our seas – such as unregulated fishing.

Our oceans and marine life are dying and under serious threat – direct action is needed now. Organisations such as these are so vitally important in ensuring that change happens.

Check out their website to find out what they do, why they do it, their current campaigns and how you can support or get involved.

Video from the Sea Shepherd YouTube Channel.

Farplace Animal Rescue 

A no kill animal sanctuary and rescue centre in the UK that takes animals from across the UK and Ireland. They campaign to end exploitation of animals – campaigns include ; End EU animal testing, End bull fighting in France, No Badger Cull, End Factory Farming and Greyhound Action Campaigns.

Through their work and campaign they also wish to protect habit, the environment and impact on climate change through the promotion of a vegan lifestyle.

It is this organisation that hosts this vegan festival and they have many, many more running across the UK throughout the year (Go to their page to see the current 2018 and the 2019 lineup)

Talks

These are the talks that took place over the day, look forward to see who will be speaking at the October event.

Richard Deboo: “This is an emergency: the imperative of being vegan”

A talk on the urgent moral, environmental and health issues that require a social shift to veganism.

Dr. TJ Moore , PHD “Are you a healthy Vegan”

A scientific researcher and university lecturer, vegan and animal lover who advocates for the reversal and alleviation of illness, emotional and cognitive disorders through good nuttiriton.

Sean Allen, “But I thought Dairy was good for me”

This talk was presented by Sean about dairy industry and the health benefits of dairy and the dairy free alternatives.

Pig Save / The Save Movement 

The Save movement is comprised of a groups around the world who bear witness to pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals on route to slaughter. They wish to raise awareness of the plight of farmed animals, help people become vegan and grow a grassroots animal justice movement. This talk was about the power of bearing witness and how to get involved in your local area.

Cliff Grant : The Simple Truth

The ethics of veganism and our treatment of animals and how we are defined by our choices.

Sea Shepard

A UK Marine Conservation charity whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife around the UK’s coastline and across the world’s ocean in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and wildlife.

 

 

The Farplace Animal Vegan Festival is running the next Irish Vegan Festival in Belfast on October 7th, taking place again in the Europa Hotel, Belfast city. 

 

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Check out my other Yoga Travel Guides

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Yoga Travel Guide: Clare, Ireland

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Yoga Travel Guide: Belfast, Ireland

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