THOUSANDS of vegetarians, vegans and curious omnivores are set to descend on Wearside as Sunderland hosts the region’s second annual meat-free 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 from across the UK.
Now organisers are hoping the event will be bigger and better when it returns to the home of the Black Cats this weekend.
Founder Gareth Edwards said: “This year the event will have two live music stages, a Pamper Zone, kids zone – and will be especially welcoming to non-vegans who can come and try a great range of food.”
Vegans go one step further than vegetarians, shunning 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.
Gareth said the festival was aimed at promoting the vegan lifestyle to non-vegans, as well as giving those already converted a great day out.
Vegan cakes, sweets and a range of hot and cold savoury food of all kinds will be on offer from a variety of stalls at the Stadium on Sunday.
Other retailers will be showcasing a range of animal product-free clothing, shoes and accessories.
The festival’s Pamper Zone will offer visitors massages, beauty treatments and other products.
There will also be a children’s area with popcorn, candyfloss and fun activities, and for adults only, a booze zone featuring independent brewers.
Gareth said: “NevFest will have a special beer (brewed by Durham’s Hill Island Brewery) called Mike’s Nev Ale produced for festival – any similarity to past BBC Look North presenters is purely coincidental!”
The festival will also feature 12 live bands over two stages, with a 600-seat ‘cruelty-free’ vegan bar.
Gareth said organisers chose the Stadium of Light as a venue due to its great location and transport links, but also how accommodating the football club had been.
Among those attending will be former Everton and Darlington footballer Neil Robinson, who was the first Premier League footballer to go vegan.
•The festival runs from 10am to 6pm on Sunday. Entry is £2 adults, under-16s get in free. Visit www.northeastveganfestival.co.uk for more information.