Vegan festival’s a hit in Sunderland

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light. Organiser Gareth Edwards from Farplace Animal Rescue.
The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light. Organiser Gareth Edwards from Farplace Animal Rescue.
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Hundreds of vegan food fans and animal lovers joined together for an annual festival in Sunderland.

The fourth North East Vegan Festival (NEVFEST) was held today at the Stadium of Light.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light.

Stalls selling vegan foods including chocolate, hot dogs, jams and cakes, and crafts and gifts were on offer to the hundreds of people who went along.

The event, which began three years ago, is run in aid of Weardale charity Farplace Animal Rescue.

Founder Gareth Edwards originally set up the festival with the aim of promoting veganism as a healthy and ethical life choice.

He said: “This is the first year we’ve held the event twice, and next year we’ll have three because we’re going to hold on at the Metro Radio Arena, in Newcastle, as well.

I think people are realising the benefits of being vegan and making the change, if it that’s just in reducing how much meat they eat for a healthier lifestyle and to help animals.

Founder Gareth Edwards

“It’s a sign that it’s growing, we’ve had a great turn out and there are more stalls than ever before.

“I think people are realising the benefits of being vegan and making the change, even if that’s just in reducing how much meat they eat for a healthier lifestyle and to help animals.”

The festival aims to attract meat eaters as well, not just vegetarians and vegans.

It attracted business owners and shoppers from far and wide.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light. Jane Nicholls of Sweet Revolution.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light. Jane Nicholls of Sweet Revolution.

Amanda Deary, from Ryhope, was at the festival with her partner, John Collinson, 49.

The 43-year-old said: “We’re both vegan and we come along every year, it’s great to see something like this in Sunderland.”

Singing teacher Laura Young, 25, and her boyfriend Anthony Sheffield, 23, travelled from Darlington for the event.

Laura, who has been vegetarian for six years and became a vegan two months ago, said: “I thought being vegan would be so difficult but after a couple of weeks I realise it’s just as easy as anything else and I really love it.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light.

The North East Vegan Festival at the Stadium of Light.

“You can get so much more than I’d realised, I didn’t know about vegan cakes and chocolates and things like this, so this festival is great, it gives you lots of ideas for cooking as well.

“I made the change for ethical reasons. I’d done a lot more research into how animals are farmed and things are gathered and I didn’t agree with it.”

Jane Nicholls came with her company Sweet Revolution from Wetherby, in West Yorkshire, to sell vegan chocolate, cheesecake and instant hot chocolate.

She said: “I’ve been to this festival every time since it began and it’s amazing, it’s definitely worth the travel.

Rachel Gurak, from Southwick-based Tropical Wholefoods was selling Fairtrade dried fruit and snack bars.

She said: “We come every year, the festival is fantastic. We travel to them all over the county and this is definitely the best one.”