Vegans Assemble

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Farplace Animal Rescue brings a selection of the country's finest cruelty-free companies to Bristol

Thinking of vegan food, if you’re not intimately familiar with the lifestyle, can conjure images of boring, blanched vegetable plates, lifeless greens, and sponge-like tofu.

However, the South West Vegan Festival effectively and vigorously eviscerates all of these preconceptions.

Located at Motion, just past Temple Meads station, the diverse array of stallholders attracted a huge crowd of local vegans and animal-lovers, with plenty of delicious food stalls, as well as incredible animal welfare outreach stands and vegan-themed merchandise. 

The highlights included Babita’s Spice Deli, run by cook Babita and her business partner and husband Rana. Babita’s is a firm favourite for vegans, with an array of Indian street foods made using locally sourced ingredients, where possible. You can find Babita’s on Facebook by searching Babita’s Spice Deli. 

Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can often feel somewhat restrictive, and there are so many elements of food and drink that may be overlooked, such as the issue of vegan alcohol. Luckily for those of us that enjoy the occasional tipple, there are various companies that are working to produce cruelty-free beverages. Enter Besos de Oro, with a creamy Baileys-esque liqueur made with Spanish tiger nuts and brandy. Inventor Peter stumbled across his recipe by accident, and has now turned the velvety ambrosia into a staple for the vegan and lactose-free among us. You can pick up a bottle of Besos for £15, and it is also available to order online. 

Another highlight was Solkiki, a vegan raw chocolate company who have risen quickly to become award-winners in the chocolate world. Their salted caramel chocolate is absolutely divine, and is made from the world’s rarest bean, the maranon, and although a small amount of salt is added to accentuate the flavour of the bean, the caramel taste is completely natural, and the fact that no extra fat is added to the chocolate not only makes it healthier, but also ensures a deep, rich flavour. The bars range in price from £4—£10, and include dark, milk and white varieties with various flavour additions. 

Cheese. A huge point of contention for vegan foodies, and let’s face it, it is basically a whole food group by itself. Finding a good vegan cheese can be like trying to find a perfect-fitting pair of jeans: lengthy and frustrating, with many more failures than triumphs. Luckily, this area of vegan living has recently made strides, with even mainstream supermarkets now offering up alternatives that don’t taste like feet. But if you’re looking for an authentic cheesy experience, look no further than Raw Food Rosie’s cashew offerings. Made using a proper culturing process rather than relying on processed fats and artificial flavourings, these creamy rounds will even hold their own as part of a cheese board, as well as being ideal for incorporating into your favourite cheesy recipes. Although slightly sweeter than dairy cheese, they are creamy and full of flavour, without being too overpowering. My personal favourite is the smoked chipotle cashew brie, which I definitely did not eat straight out of the tub with a spoon whilst making a three-cheese risotto.* Rosie’s cheeses can be bought online at rawfoodrosies.com, and are now also stocked at Harvest on Gloucester Road.

All in all the festival was a great experience, and despite the less-than-friendly welcome from the organisers, it was a great triumph, and a feather in the cap of the Bristol vegan scene. 

* I definitely did.

Recommended animal welfare websites: HeartcureClothing.comSeashepherd.org.uk

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