Scottish Vegan Festival back for another year at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange

 

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The Edinburgh Corn Exchange was packed with activity on Saturday. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The Corn Exchange was full to the brim on October 20 as visitors flocked to the many stalls available at this year’s Scottish Vegan Festival.

The festival has been successfully running for the last two years and is the ideal event for vegans or those eager to learn more about veganism. Organised by Farplace Animal Rescue, an animal sanctuary and campaigns group, the Scottish Vegan Festival hosts a series of stalls including many hot and cold vegan eats, cosmetics, clothing and animal rights charities.

There are currently around 600,000 vegans across the UK and as the number of vegans increased by 350% in the last decade in Scotland alone, it seems to be a trend that will continue to rise in popularity. Whatever reason it may be — for, ethical, dietary or weight loss — there is a growing interest in how and why people should adopt a plant-based diet.

This rise in the number of people taking on a vegan diet means there is an increase in demand for vegan options, not just at restaurants, but in other public places such as schools and hospitals. ‘Go Vegan Scotland’, a group of volunteers who spend their time away from work trying to encourage others to see the benefits of veganism, was at the Scottish Vegan Festival campaigning for the introduction of legislation which would guarantee plant-based options on every public sector menu.

Barbara Bolton, a volunteer for Go Vegan Scotland, spoke about how the group approaches conversations about veganism with those who may be interested in or unsure of adopting a plant-based diet.

”We have information stalls where people approach us, ask us what they want to know about veganism and we try to have conversations with them to bring out what they think about other animals and whether or not they are truly comfortable with killing them when we don’t have to,” she said.

”Every time we buy a product that has come from an animal, whether it’s from their body or we have taken their eggs or their milk, what lies behind that is animal exploitation. So we tease out from people whether or not they’re genuinely comfortable that they’re spending their money, paying people to use and kill other animals for them.”

Barbara also emphasised that it’s important to approach veganism in a certain way in order to stick to it:

”If you think of veganism as a diet or a lifestyle, then you may find it challenging but when you understand what veganism really is, when you understand veganism is simply living in a way that respects other animals’ right to exist and that it’s about not exploiting and killing animals, then it will become much easier.”

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Lots of vegan treats were available on display including these Halloween inspired doughnuts. Photo by Olivia Hill.

The festival also provides small businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products in a suitable environment.

Emma Lean, from new independent clothing company ‘East Coast 88‘, said the festival was a great place to introduce people to their products:

”All of our t-shirts are organic, they’re all printed using water-based inks and they’re all  Fair Wear Foundation certified as well which means the people who have made them have been paid a living wage, they’re in a safe environment and they’ve got workers rights as well.”

”We wanted to get our name out there and we wanted to meet people who would be interested in buying the t-shirts. So we started coming along and I think this is our 3rd festival so far and it’s been the best one. The atmosphere here has been really nice, it’s really cool.”

The festival was heaving with ticket holders who had come along to try delicious vegan eats and buy the latest vegan-friendly clothes and cosmetics. But there were also a number of animal rights charities present, including OneKind, Scotland’s largest animal campaign group.

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OneKind sells vegan-friendly t-shirts to help fund their campaigns. Photo by Olivia Hill.

OneKind has held a number of successful campaigns including Scotland’s ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Sarah Mackenzie, the events and volunteers officer, discussed its latest campaign.

”The campaign we’re running today is to stop the growth of the salmon industry in terms of salmon farming in Scotland. At the moment the welfare issues within the industry are unacceptable and we’re asking the Government to put a stop to the plans for growth before these issues are dealt with.”

There is a significant problem with sea lice (parasites that feed on the scales and flesh of the salmon) on Scottish salmon farms and mortality rates are extremely high; 11 million salmon died last year alone. If you would like to learn more about this campaign, click here.

The Scottish Vegan Festival will be back on April 7 and October 20, 2019. To keep up to date with the latest news, take a look at their website here.

 

 

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