Some thoughts on the vegan events and the current climate (Part 2 – Achievements)

22nd November 2023

Some thoughts on the vegan events and the current climate (Part 2 – Achievements)


In Part 1 of this blog I took an in depth look at some of the reasons why attendance, engagement and Traders were down so visibly at our events this year compared with pre covid days, alongside a firm commitment to work hard to help build back the events over the coming years. Part 2 focuses on the real and tangible benefits of our vegan events and explains why I and many others are so deeply committed to ensuring they survive and prosper.

Part 3 will outline our next steps to help achieve these goal and others moving forward, out shortly

People going vegan or increasing their plant-based options significantly after visiting our events. Feedback forms from Brighton, Bristol and Olympia in 2023 show a significant amount of people attending the event pledging to change their lifestyle choices significantly and, in some cases, go vegan. An estimated 4,500 non vegans attended the shows in 2023, and from that, around 4,000 indicated they were going vegan, or were increasing their plant-based options, or indicated they were making some changes. Overall nearly everyone said they left with a good impression of veganism and said they would be likely to recommend the events to their friends and family. The inclusion of dedicated areas and team members for the introduction to plant based diets and lifestyles at all our shows has now been augmented with an introduction to veganism and animal rights too.

Collaboration Panels and Campaigns Groups This has been really exciting and dynamic and helping amplify and accelerate what’s already been happening across the animal liberation and plant-based food systems campaigns groups – collaboration. There has been a marked increase in collaborations between the main groups and the culture has changes significantly. All our shows have brought together significant amounts of campaigns groups and campaigners and helped foster better communications & potential partnerships and collaboration that we hope will really continue to build, and have plans for 2024 to help further with the process.

Media Coverage All 4 event this year have achieved significant media coverage – all of it positive and informative and supportive of veganism and plant-based options. The events make for a really excellent platform to engage successfully with local and national media and ensure the vegan position, an understanding of animal rights, and the benefits of plant-based diets and lifestyle choices reach a far and wide audience. Highlights include reports from BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio London and The Daily Mirror

Social Media

The Events give rise to a wave of very positive social media especially in the run up to the shows, and afterwards, and presents a great way to show off not only our independent vegan traders but also our speakers and performers – and all the fabulous food. The optics are impressive.

Vegan Community
With free entry for both Brighton & Bristol, and reduced ticket prices for VegfestUK London, we’ve seen a big interest in restoring the regional vegan communities to their former bustling selves that thrived pre covid. This is vital for the continued growth and spread of veganism and plant-based lifestyles. A lot of very positive feedback this year from visitors and very few complaints, and a real show of strength in London where the community turned out in force to support our traders, with a really apparent spend for many. Fabulous

Independent Traders and Vegan Food vendors
Traders have had an incredibly tough time these last few years and sadly many have not made it through and had to stop trading. Those still standing have been faced with a multitude of increased costs, stock delays, and services going out of business, making it very hard to trade at the shows successfully. I’m the first to acknowledge that at times this year not all our traders have done as well as anticipated and also acknowledge that at times, especially Bristol, stall prices have been too high for some traders. Obviously, I’ve done my best here but there has to be room to improve and that’s on the plan for 2024, with a 25% – 30% drop in stall prices planned for Bristol especially. Thrilled to say our recent Olympia show proved in the main very successful for many traders and I thank those visitors who turned up and spent money with them all. Our plans for 2024 aim to try and bridge the gap between our own rising costs and the drop in revenue from stalls which lower prices will create for us.

Vegan Artiste Collective
The London Vegan Comedy Festival in September 23 was created to help reinvigorate the passion and enthusiasm for our growing vegan collective of artistes, and that was really successful. Comedians especially played to a packed stage in a really good venue and setting and the enthusiasm was palpable. We value this collective immensely and was really happy to see this work so well for them all. Everyone of the 35 or so performers got paid and had decent crowds and that’s fabulous news all round. We continue to work closely with The Art of Compassion Project featuring artists from across the Globe exhibiting their work at all our events.

Vegan Kids Festival
One of the best areas to emerge this last 12 months at our shows and thrilling to see this new event develop and grow into a fully-fledged outdoor festival every summer. Pleasure to host such an excellent area

Vegan Business Tribe
Really exciting development this last few years and the VBT area has gone from strength to strength with a multitude of most excellent individuals attending and sharing skillsets and experience, providing essential support and advice for a growing number of vegan independents.

V For Life
Providing essential information and support for an elder vegan community and an ever present at our Olympia show for a number of years now

Plant Based Health Professionals UK
At many of our shows since 2017, the PBHPUK collective continues to grow and prosper and deliver first rate schedules at our events whilst developing their own community vibe – most vital development all round and even more so in the face of the establishment and corporations with vested interest in prolonging myths around animal agriculture and consumption

Plant Based Treaty
Plant Based Treaty have been the big success story in the movement post covid with a global campaign achieving remarkable and genuinely impactful victories almost weekly around the globe and especially within the UK. Our events have provided platforms for the PBT team to really engage with the public and help garner support for their vital ongoing campaigns

Local Councillors
On the back of the Plant Based Treaty presence we have been able to invite a multitude of local councillors to attend our events and discover the wealth of support for a shift to plant based food systems and how their decisions can help accelerate the process in a meaningful way.

Vegan Networking
This is such an essential part of building coalitions partnerships and collaborations and we are thrilled with the level of networking presented at our events, so essential to build back strong communities and collaborations.

These are just some of the very tangible positives that our events bring to the table and that’s in part why I am determined to help rebuild and reinvigorate the events, not only our own but all the regional events. Our plans for 2024 have some genuinely impactful new projects to build upon and I look forward to sharing more in Part 3 of this 3-part series, including a move towards becoming a Community Interest Company and really serving the vegan community in a transparent and open fashion.

VegfestUK is 21 next year and we are finally coming of age.

xxxTim Barford November 2023