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Great North West Vegan Festival comes to Lancaster this Saturday

Chris Satori

This Saturday Lancaster will host the huge annual North West Vegan Festival across two venues, Lancaster Town Hall (LA1 1PJ) and the Gregson Centre (LA1 3PY), with 115 stalls selling a wide variety of vegan products and promoting critical animal welfare issues.

The festival will have 90 stalls at the Town Hall, and 25 at the Gregson Centre. At the Town Hall there will be a vegan cafe serving meals, snacks and refreshments, talks, cookery demonstrations and children’s activities and at The Gregson you will find a vegan beer and wine festival, films in a 26 seat cinema, vegan speed dating and meeting and a special extra vegan menu in this vegan friendly community centre that already has vegan pizzas and other vegan meals on its menu.

Admission is just: £1.50, which  includes entry to both venues and all proceeds from the Festival will go to the registered charity International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals.
To add the entertainment on offer the Dukes will be holding its Green Film Festival nearby on the same day.

The Vegan Festival aims to make the transition to veganism smoother by showcasing easy and inexpensive items that can enrich any cafe or restaurant menu and promote real vegan meal options as an accepted feature of the North West food offer.

The difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is that a vegan will not consume anything sourced from animals - this includes eggs, milk, cheese and, for some, even honey and isinglass (a fish product used to clear beer).  Most vegans will not wear or use leather goods either. The reasons for these choices may be personal, health-based, financial, ethical, religious, political and / or environmental. Dairy and beef production in particular have a very heavy carbon footprint and moving our diets towards veganism is one way to begin tackling this problem.

You can see from the list below how much more water alone is required to produce meat:

1 pound of lettuce 23 gallons
1 pound of tomatoes 23 gallons
1 pound of potatoes 24 gallons
1 pound of wheat 25 gallons
1 pound of carrots 33 gallons
1 pound of apples 49 gallons
1 pound of chicken 815 gallons
1 pound of pork 1,630 gallons
1 pound grain fed beef 3,000 gallons

The vegan diet is very inexpensive but it can be difficult or time-consuming to find snacks, convenience foods, condiments, mixes, baked goods or confectionary that don't include any butter, egg or milk powder. Vegans get used to reading the small print list of ingredients on every product. You don't see many overweight vegans as most fattening 'comfort' foods contain animal products.

In central Lancaster we are fortunate to have the Single Step Wholefood Co-op and Health n' Brew which between them supply a tasty and extensive range of vegan recipe items. The Whale Tail Vegetarian Cafe and The Gregson also offer vegan menu choices, the latter also offering disabled access. We'd love to hear from other cafes or restaurants in the area that routinely offer decent vegan meal options.

Not all conventional cafes and restaurants have vegan items on the menu, as they tend to rely on dairy, cheese or egg-based recipes to provide vegetarian options and most desserts.  Vegans get used to phoning ahead of restaurant and hotel bookings to give them warning and check that they can cope. While better restaurants generally have a kitchen capable of rising to the challenge, many rely on contract catering and are tied to standard menu items and minimally-trained staff and can't come up with a balanced animal-free meal.

The more vegans there are, the easier it becomes and the number of vegans in the North West is growing and organising as online shopping brings a wider range of products and supplements closer to our doors. Information and tips about maintaining a healthy vegan lifestyle abound on the internet.  A good place to start is the Vegan Society website at

As people begin to grasp their responsibilities for climate change, and learn more about links between health and nutrition, the number of people moving closer to veganism in their diets at home is also growing rapidly, although they may still find themselves forced to compromises in order to manage away from home.

DO say to a vegan: 'Yes, we have dairy-free spread for your bread
DON'T say: 'Can't you just eat the vegetables?'