North East Vegan Festival draws hundreds to Sunderland

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THOUSANDS of foodies descended on Sunderland for an annual festival.

The Stadium of Light was chosen as the venue for the first North East Vegan Festival (NeVFest) last year, pulling in 1,600 visitors.

The Stadium of Light was the venue on Sunday for the North East Vegan Festival.'Lesley Stanbury from Free from Freak.

The Stadium of Light was the venue on Sunday for the North East Vegan Festival.'Lesley Stanbury from Free from Freak.

And the event saw 2,000 people come to the home of the Black Cats to grab some interesting bites to eat, as well as be entertained by live music.

Vegans go one step further than vegetarians, shunning eggs, dairy and other products as well as meat and fish, because animals are farmed to produce them.

The Vegan Society estimates there are about 150,000 vegans in the UK – about one in 400 people. As well as food stalls, children made full use of play areas while therapies such as head and back massages were also on offer.

Washington woman Lesley Stanbury was at the festival to showcase her Free from Freak cup cakes.

Lesley told the Echo: “This is my first time here and I just can’t believe how many people there are. It’s massive publicity for my business because everyone’s taking my card.”

Lesley’s business is based in Jesmond in Newcastle.

“I’m gluten intolerant so I decided to start to make my own food and it’s just gone from there since I started up in March,” she added.

Essy and Bella owner, Amy Granger, also of Washington, makes dairy-free chocolates, brownies and flapjacks which were all on sale to festival goers.

“More and more people are going vegan because they’ve either got allergies or they want to avoid having dairy in their diets,” said Amy.

“I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12, but there’s never been anything like this kind of festival until recently.

“It’s much busier this year and I can see it being bigger in years to come.”