HUNDREDS of vegans and vegetarians are descending on Wearside this weekend for the North East’s first vegan festival.
Dairy-free cake bakers, chocolate makers and even a vegan tattooist are among about 70 stall holders setting up shop in the Stadium of Light.
The event has been organised by Gareth Edwards, chairman of the Farplace Animal Rescue charity, who is expecting up to 1,000 people to attend.
“I’ve been to vegan festivals around the country and we’re just about the only region that doesn’t have one, and I decided it was about time we did,” he said.
“The Stadium of Light is handy for people coming up from Yorkshire, which hasn’t had a vegan festival, it has 1,100 parking spaces and it’s on the Metro,” he added.
The festival takes place tomorrow and will have a variety of stalls, food, cookery demonstrations and talks.
There is also a concert tonight featuring five vegan groups to raise money for the Farplace charity.
Gareth said: “The Stadium of Light has agreed to take all non-vegan drinks off the menu and the chef is going to do us an all-vegan bar food menu for the gig.”
Vegans shun eggs, dairy and other products as well as meat and fish, because animals are still killed to produce them.
The Vegan Society estimates there are 150,000 vegans in the UK – about one in 400 people.
But Gareth said he expects many meat-eaters will join vegans and vegetarians at the festival.
“I think a lot of them will come because they’ll be dragged along by their vegan and vegetarian friends, but also because they want to try something different,” he said.
Gareth said the horse meat scandal and animal welfare issues have made people more aware of the darker side of the meat and dairy industry.
l The North East Vegan Festival takes place tomorrow from 10am to 6pm. Entry is £1 for adults and 50p for children.
The fund-raising gig starts at 6pm tonight, and tickets cost £8 full price or £5 concessions.
Visit www.northeastveganfestival.co.uk for more information.