Huge turnout for first North East Vegan Festival at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light

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MORE than 1,000 people tried out meat-free alternatives at the region’s first vegan festival, held at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

About 1,200 visitors to the North East Vegan Festival on Sunday enjoyed a variety of food and drinks – safe in the knowledge their treats contained no animal derivatives.

The Stadium of Light was the venue for the North East Vegan Festival.

The Stadium of Light was the venue for the North East Vegan Festival.

The event’s 71 stalls offered dairy-free chocolate and vegan beer, hot dogs and burgers – and even an animal-friendly tattooist, and talks were given on related subjects.

The day followed a night-time gig held at the stadium the previous evening featuring five acoustic vegan acts.

Organiser Gareth Edwards, chairman of trustees at Farplace Animal Rescue, got the idea the for the event in June.

“We went to the biggest vegan festival in the country, down in Bristol,” he said. “Every other region in the country has one.”

Gareth hopes to repeat the event again next year, and he is determined to return to Sunderland.

“Everyone at the Stadium of Light has been so welcoming to us,” he said. “That is one of the reasons Sunderland got it over Newcastle.

“I’m delighted with the day. For a lot of people, it will have been the first time they have tried a vegan burger or hot dog.

“We want to show people that you can have the same textures and the same tastes without an animal dying.

“I would be delighted if anyone who tries it out and realises they can have just as good-quality food decides to have even one meat-free day a week. That would be one animal saved.

“A meal doesn’t have to include meat to be just as filling.”