Fairly, recently, ok at the end of August (the 27th to be precise) Martin and I attended the St Albans Vegan Fair, which was the first ever vegan fair in St Albans. For those who don’t know St Albans is about twenty minutes on the train from London, and as there are so many great vegan eateries and businesses in London it makes it a prime location to hold such an event.
The fair was held at Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre which is about ten minutes from the town centre and involves walking down (and then unfortunately later on up) a steep hill. From what we could see there were stalls outside and then a room with vendors inside (which you had to pay £3 to enter). In terms of price, I think that was more than fair but I think any more would not have been considering that the room itself was not too large (and there was only one room in total – please correct me if I’m wrong here!).
Martin and I arrived a little past 10am when it opened and it was already quite busy. Due to the size of the venue it was a little hard to see all the different vendors and get tasters of the products available so I think we missed out a little in that way. It got busier as we was there and I think if we’d have arrived any later it would have been a little hellish. However, when we arrived the queue moved fairly quickly and the staff were really nice.
To get the slightly negative element out of the way first, I do think the event could of been better organised. Like, I said demand hadn’t been taken into account, so I do believe the venue was too small. Also, when I contacted the fair on Facebook after the event to see if they had any photographs, as I struggled due to the amount of people (although, honestly, I could have tried harder but I wanted to enjoy myself!) and if they could send me a list of vendors to jog my memory of the day, they never got back to me. For reference, I can see they’ve seen the message and I messaged twice. I wouldn’t usually mention something like this but I wanted to give this as a reference to the organisation I felt was lacking at the event. I wouldn’t have minded if they responded saying no, or they’d get back to me, but I think it’s bad practice to ignore someone completely. However, I will point out that I messaged after the event and so the organisers may now be too busy to message back (this is probably not their full time job after all!) and I did not exhaust my list of contact options. This is because I only found out on writing this post about their email address (despite it being on one of the images, essentially I’m an idiot) and I’ll be honest I didn’t want to wait for a response – I wanted to get this post out!
I want to close this bit of my experience by saying I love supporting members of a community I feel close to (I’m a vegetarian not a vegan for reference) but I wanted to be honest and say that element let me down a little bit.
However, the food options truly did not.
I only managed to taste a small selection of what was on offer but it was all delicious.
One thing I was really excited to try was Kimchi when I saw it and the event, as I’ve never tried it before! I actually thought it was great and picked up some from a brand called Love Kimchi. I haven’t had a lot of this since purchasing, as I can only have small amounts because my stomach isn’t used to it but I’m excited to incorporate some into rice dishes in the future.
Another brand I tried was Badger’s Vegan Kitchen. The texture of their egg mayo was really great. This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to go to the effort to make their own version, however, I have a soft spot for a tofu egg mayo recipe I made up based on a tofu scramble (probably because it’s more indulgent and I really love tofu) so I don’t know if I’d pick this up again.
One of Martin’s favourites from the samples we tried was from Vork Pie – the scotch eggs being a particular favourite. Their Vork on Mars scotch egg I have to say is particularly delicious.
There were some other great food experiences we had, which I can’t remember the name of including a lovely cheese sauce on a hot dog that Martin tried and I stole a bit of which was delicious; a seitan burger that tasted so good, Martin got one after tasting mine and a BBQ Seitan that had a amazing smoky flavour. There was also a cake stand that looked AMAZING, which you can tell by many photographs of it above but I got so overwhelmed by the choices that I didn’t actually order anything in the end!
Another stand that was packed was vegan cheese makers Kinda.co, I managed to grab a bite of their imitation greek style cheese in oil, which was lovely, but was unable to try anything else. I definitely would love to try them if I see them at another fair but I think they are definitely an indulgent treat kind of place, as their cheese averages at around £7.00.
Martin also wanted me to give a shout out to the May Bakery where he got an Oreo cookie sandwich from which he said was delicious. I’m not as big of an Oreo fan so I only sampled a little bit but the cookie texture was on point. I definitely will be looking out for them again.
Apart from food there were a few ‘lifestyle’ stalls including a place selling vegan bags and shoes (which honestly, unfortunately, weren’t really my style and Eden perfumes who I wrote a blog post about).
Overall, I think this was a great event for vegans, vegetarians or even omnivores, as it was honestly great, tasty food. If you’re a vegan or veggie and struggling to explain to your family that what you eat is still great tasting, this might be a good event to take them too. Honestly, everything we tried tasted great and the creativity on offer was really inspiring.
For me, I’m just happy to see the continual rise of more veggie options in the UK – I can’t wait to see the landscape in five years time!
April (April is the Cruellest Month)
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