Vegan Ireland speaks with Dublin Vegfest organisers.

What is Dublin Vegfest?

Dublin Vegfest is the Irish capital’s vegan festival. It’s a fun celebration and promotion of all things vegan. We have lots of stands with wonderful vegan foods from raw desserts to burgers, baked goods, dairy free plant milks, super foods, chocolate and everything in between. We have producers of cruelty free ethical natural personal care products. There are talks by inspirational speakers, experts in diet and nutrition, live music and spoken word performance. As well as local non profit groups all ready to talk with attendees about their work and how to go vegan and animal rights. It’s a great friendly day out for anyone curious about vegan food, the lifestyle and the reasons to go vegan.

What inspired Dublin Vegfest?

As vegan event organisers we wanted people to experience the vast abundance of vegan foods we have, help people get answers to their questions about the lifestyle and share new ideas and encourage diversity in the vegan community. Our fest does all these in a fun, chilled way. There are many vegan festivals around the world and we’ve been inspired by each of those we know of in some way. Here in Ireland we have a vibrant community… so let’s celebrate!

How important are festivals like Dublin Vegfest to promoting veganism and animal rights?

They can be very important by giving everyone an experience of the wealth of food and options that are available. Showing that a vegan diet and way of life isn’t a sacrifice at all. If you want to be a fit vegan on a wholefood diet you can but if you want to eat more cake and snacks you can too and people can “get” that at an event like ours. We are making veganism more normal for everyone. It can excite people about being part of vegan culture, highlighting gains and progress made by campaigns and advocacy. People can connect up issues they feel passionate about at our event and see how living vegan practically addresses these. Attendees can meet their local vegan groups face to face and have their questions answered by them or at one of our talks on health, diet or ethics. An example of what our events can do is that months after our inaugural show we have people sharing their stories of deciding to go vegan after attending our show last year. It’s a gathering of open minded people in a pro vegan environment and that’s special.

How does Dublin Vegfest support local groups and activists?
Dublin Vegfest is very interested in supporting our local vegan advocacy groups and community. Groups can engage with people on the day of our event face to face with attendees or by working with us to connect with our community by sharing interesting content or news across our media before and after events. We support local groups through networking and we give free exhibition space to some local vegan advocacy groups and an animal sanctuary . We also make cash contributions. If we can support groups at anytime we will usually try to and always share local and global vegan relevant news through our media and work with vegan friendly businesses all year to give something back to our community in between shows too.

What reaction did Dublin Vegfest receive from both vegans and the vegan curious?

The vegan community overwhelmingly got behind the whole event early on. I think they were very glad to have a day they can feel exemplifies their ethos and aims. There was a lot of excitement around the local producers and stalls offering foods. People enjoyed being able to eat everything on offer as it was all VEGAN! Vegans loved meeting other vegans and vegan curious people from all over Ireland, N. Ireland and elsewhere. People who came out of curiosity, while enjoying all the foods also learned that veganism isn’t just a diet with benefits; it’s a way of living that excludes causing cruelty and exploitation wherever it can.

Last year the very first Dublin Vegfest was held on November the 1st. Why did you pick this date?
The first of November is World Vegan day and marks the beginning of World Vegan Month (November), where people celebrate veganism in lots of interesting ways around the world. We couldn’t imagine a better day to kick off the festival than this day. We were lucky it was a weekend last year as it won’t fall on that day for quite a while! The weather was also on our side being bright and dry all day. It was meant to be!

2015 was a huge success, can you tell us more about this?
Thank you! Yes, it was a terrific event. The people attending were so warm and the atmosphere was remarkably friendly, something a lot of exhibitors commented on. It was the first vegan festival in Ireland and there was a great energy with lots of people meeting up with friends or meeting social media friends for the first time. The food and products that people got at the fest were all over social media for days after! The huge turnout was a very satisfying to see. This year we are developing on this energy and growing into a bigger venue. People have really got behind the fest seeing it as a very good expression of veganism in Ireland today. With this kind of support and energy we hope to grow and attract more people to the fest each year.

What was the most pleasing aspect of Dublin Vegfest last year?

Seeing so many smiling faces and hearing that people had such a good time! It was nice to see people surprised at how rich and diverse our vegan community is; Musicians, bakers, activists, singers, writers, artists, champion athletes, poets etc. and having the work it takes to organise the fest appreciated by people attending . Especially hearing some say they had become interested in going vegan or getting more active after being at a talk or seeing a film there.

What would you change or do differently if you could?

We always try to make sure people attending have a great experience; we make great efforts to do this by working with the most ethical vegan friendly businesses possible, bringing the most inspirational speakers to the show, music and performance etc… right down to replacing the venues soaps and putting vegan soap in the bathrooms! …but we know some people felt frustrated waiting to get into the venue ( due to the turn out!) and that is something we would change if we could! We’ve worked hard this year to secure a bigger venue and a fresh system which should make a difference. We’ll no doubt have to improve again next year but that’s the aim anyhow. With the support of our community we think we can do that.

This year Dublin Vegfest is going to be even bigger and better. How will 2016 differ from 2015?

Firstly we have a new bigger venue so much more space overall. We have a lot more stalls and that means a lot more great food producers as well as cruelty free products. We are delighted to say we have some exciting firsts for Ireland in our speaker line up with Emily Barwick Moran of Bite Size Vegan and world record holding athlete and activist Fiona Oakes speaking at the event . We have new music performers playing in the performance and chill zone. We have some more activities that parents and kids will appreciate. There’ll definitely be one or two surprises on the day also!

Tell us more about the headline speakers, Emily Moran Barwick (aka Bite Size Vegan) and Fiona Oakes?
Fiona Oakes holds three world records at the moment. She’s an incredible vegan athlete who runs to promote sustainability, veganism and to raise funds for her animal sanctuary in the UK- Tower Hills stables Animal Sanctuary. Fiona was a nominee for the inspirational woman of the year award hosted by the Daily Mail in 2012, won the IFAW Animal Advocacy Award in 2012, was voted VegFest best Vegan Athlete in 2012 and a best Vegan Celebrity in 2014. Fiona has been someone inspiring us for many years and it’s a great pleasure and privilege to host her at our show this year.

Emily Barwick Moran/ Bite Size Vegan is another inspiration we are so glad to host.. Bite Size Vegan’s videos and outreach work will be very familiar too many here who have searched YouTube for support! Bite Size Vegan simplifies complex vegan issues in an engaging, approachable way that appeals to vegans and non-vegans alike and for anyone that thinks education can’t be entertaining; they should check out Emily’s vegan nuggets. It’s a real accomplishment to be able to carry an audience with you through the issues with real intelligence and put a smile on their face. It will be Emily’s first time in Ireland too.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Dublin Vegfest?

Meeting the attendees, seeing more and more new faces, observing the reactions to a talk or performance they’ve just had or watching people meet up and enjoy good vegan foods! A real treat is seeing people connect with each other asking great questions of our speakers and getting the support they need in that.

How can people get involved?
People can support the event by helping it reach as many as possible. By chatting with us on and sharing our social media posts. Inviting friends and family along to the show. We always want to hear from vegan friendly producers, artists, designers or performers. Please contact us info@dublinvegfest.com or use the contact form on our website.

Details for Dublin Vegfest 2016:
Website: dublinvegfest.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com
Phone: +353 (0)1 516 8409