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North East vegan festival makes triumphant return at the Stadium of Light

The turnout for the second 'Nevfest' was looking to be almost double of last year's inaugural event in Sunderland

Tyne Cheese - maker of artisan cashew-based vegan cheese launched at Nevfest 2014
Tyne Cheese - maker of artisan cashew-based vegan cheese launched at Nevfest 2014

The second North East Vegan Festival saw thousands of people descend on the Stadium of Light on Sunday to sample the wealth of ethically-produced food, drink, clothes and jewellery on offer.

The largest food event of its type in the region, the festival - affectionately known as ‘Nevfest’ - had its first outing this time last year.

But Nevfest2 certainly upped the ante, offering a wider range of exhibitor stalls and activities - charities including Greenpeace and the organisers Farplace Animal Rescue had stands alongside those selling produce - as well as a programme of 10 live bands and singers who were on hand to make sure there was always some browsing background music.

Speaking just half way through proceedings, founder Gareth Edwards said he was delighted with how the day was going.

“We’ve already surpassed last year’s visitor numbers (1,200), so we’re really hopeful that we’ll break the 2,000 barrier by the end of the day. It has been really busy and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, which is terrific.”

The Big Fat Vegan Baker was a big hit at the second North East Vegan Festival
The Big Fat Vegan Baker was a big hit at the second North East Vegan Festival
 

Foodwise, visitors could choose from an array of hot and cold foods from Mediterranean and Caribbean delicacies to hot dogs, elaborate salads and raw chocolate to vegan burgers.

As well as some established brand names in the vegan world, there were also some newcomers.

Lifelong vegan, Ami Tadaa, 24, who was an enthusiastic visitor to last year’s inaugural event, returned this time to launch her new business, Newcastle-based Tyne Cheese, which offers a range of artisan soy and cashew-based cheeses.

She said: “I had such a great time here last year and I’m so happy to be here as a stallholder this year. I’ve been really thrilled with the reaction to my range of cheeses. We’ve sold out of a lot of the flavours and have taken lots of orders too.”

As well as her ‘classic cashew’ flavour, passers by could sample Ami’s own recipes for Christmas Cranberry, Ale and Mustard, Garlic and Herb, Smokey Paprika, Chilli Flakes and Apricot cheeses.

She added: “It has also been so lovely to see how much more popular the festival has become in just a year. I think the interest in veganism and plant-based diets is really increasing as more people learn about the benefits both in terms of health, wellbeing and the planet.”

Tyne Cheese - maker of artisan cashew-based vegan cheese launched at Nevfest 2014
Tyne Cheese - maker of artisan cashew-based vegan cheese launched at Nevfest 2014
 

The Vegan Society estimates there are 150,000 vegans – who avoid eggs, dairy and other products as well as meat and fish - in the UK.

Gareth said there was no doubt that the event would return next year. “The only question is whether we only do one... and whether we expand to use the next floor up at the Stadium,” he said. “We’re definitely here to stay.”

For more information go to www.nevfest.com ; www.farplace.org.uk ; Facebook: www.facebook.com/northeastveganfestival or www.facebook.com/farplace and Twitter @nevfest.

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