Last weekend I made my way back to my childhood city of Canterbury for a food filled Saturday afternoon at the Kent Vegan Festival. It was this mini festival’s second year running, although after last year’s surprise success (and huge queues!) they upgraded to the Westgate Hall to provide a larger space.
Tickets were just £2, although there was live music and a few food stalls outside that could be accessed without a ticket. Stalls inside spanned a range of different vegan genres – from charity stalls, to dog biscuits, to clothing, to chocolate! We arrived early, only half an hour after they opened, and although we didn’t need to queue to get it, it was still super busy inside.
In the first aisle we explored, there was a large stall of sweet treats stocked with every vegan chocolate imaginable. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and although my favourite iChoc bars were available, I didn’t bother buying any as a couple of places in Norwich now stock them. However… I then found the holy grail of all vegan chocolates…. The creme egg! Yes, that’s right. A VEGAN creme egg! It was the same guy from Lakeside Ethical Treats that had a stall at the Brighton Veg Fest, but he had sold out in the first two hours so I never got to buy one. I grabbed myself one for £1.30 and tucked it into my bag, praying it wouldn’t melt into an oozy mess before I could eat it! There were also a couple of great deals on smaller moo free bars so I picked up a chocolate orange and a bunnycomb bar for 50p each. Luckily my creme egg survived the journey home and I was able to enjoy it with a cuppa. I KID YOU NOT these things are the real deal!!! The chocolate was so creamy and the inside was spot on – I shut my eyes and I was 100% eating a standard creme egg. Amazing.
There was also A LOT of cake available. I’m definitely more of a savoury gal so I wasn’t too bothered about the cakes. There are so many places in Norwich now that offer vegan options that it’s no longer a luxury to have a slice of cake! I would say there was probably more cake than was necessary – it would have been nice to see some more savoury takeaway options.
That being said, there were a few decent options for lunch… there was a kitchen at the back offering hot dogs, salads and a portobello burger, Loving Hut were frying up fish and chips outside and Temple of Seitan were dishing out gooey pots of mac and cheese. I went for the latter and it was AMAZING – a mound of cheesey pasta topped with ‘sour cream’, coriander, gherkins, seitan pieces and breadcrumbs. I finished my pot off with a drizzle of sriracha and wolfed the lot down in about 20 seconds!
To the left of the entrance, a little tucked in a corner was Alternative Chef Steph and her rang of vegan cheeses. There was a crowd of people in front onour first lap of the stalls, so we ended up walking straight past. Luckily we spotted her on our way out and sampled a whole bunch of her dairy free cheeses including stilton, cheddar, BRIE!!, mozzarella and smoked. I’m a huge sucker for anything smokey flavoured, so I dived straight into her smoked cheese samples. Just one mouthful later and I was handing over £4.50 for a huge wedge of the stuff. Hands down the closest thing to real cheese I’ve tried so far – and I’ve tried a lot in my quest to find cheese that doesn’t taste like plastic (Violife slices) or sick (anything by Sheese..). Safe to say I was pretty happy with that purchase!
We left after about half an hour as we had to dash off, so sadly we missed the live music and talks from a range of speakers including YouTuber The Vegan Activist. In the Curzon cinema next door, there were also screenings of films throughout the day, such as Cowspiracy. When we left, the queue to get in was HUGE! It was winding along the Westgate Hall and down into the side streets by midday.
It’s great to see so much support for events like this, and to see a vegan festival in my little old hometown of Canterbury. It looks like this festival will continue to grow and grow which is awesome! Sadly I’ll miss the next few as I’ll be travelling but if you are around – go and check it out 🙂