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The Vegan Revolution Continues

Leeds Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival confirms how the restaurant industry is growing to support the vegan lifestyle.

By: Sloane Caetano

In a large auditorium, over 100 people gather to explore the vegan products offered in various stalls.
Held at the Leeds Town Hall, over 100 stalls of vegan food, makeup, clothing, and accessories were offered to those in attendance.

On Sunday, 8th December, hundreds of people gathered in Leeds Town Hall to celebrate the increasing awareness around veganism. The different stalls offered vegan food, makeup, clothing, accessories, recipes and plenty of informative research on the vegan lifestyle.

In recent years, the focus on veganism has grown worldwide, and an event like the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival can prove just how many options there are for newcomers. The restaurant industry in Toronto, Canada is continuing to grow with vegan restaurants becoming the focus to expand.

Rosalinda in Toronto is a vegan restaurant that is not only providing vegans with more opportunities, but as a Mexican restaurant it offers a different cuisine that broadens the vegan restaurant industry altogether.

Jamie Cook, restaurant owner, discusses how his restaurant contributes to the growth of veganism as he states, “We think the plant based diet is growing and we are seeing more and more options opening up every day – our clientele is a mix and not just vegans, our guests are often surprised at how much they enjoy the flavours and it opens them to try new items.”

Middle Eastern Vegan food stall offers classic dishes that provide a "meat free" delicious alternative.
A wide range of vegan cuisine offered like this Middle Eastern array of pastries, salads, and delicious dipping sauces.

It takes something as simple as reading through an article or putting yourself out there and joining a group that helps support the continuous focus on veganism. For university students in Leeds, the perfect opportunity has been offered by the Vegsociety at Leeds Beckett University.

The society is a welcoming bunch of likeminded people who want to encourage vegan lifestyle choices as they hold regular meet-ups, meals, socials and workshops, according to Vegsociety.

Imogen Milton, president of the society speaks about the purpose and main goal of the club as she states, “As a committee we really wanted to just have a place people could meet, share good food and advice to each other. Mainly we want to encourage those who want to venture into the plant based diet or lifestyle to join us and get a better understanding about what we are all about and share our tips with them.”

It is groups like these who form a community that work together and make an impact within the student body. Milton states, “I think as people become more aware of the society we can make more of an impact and we are already thinking of some campaigns to run to raise awareness of the good plant based can do. We also team up with the Sustainability society as we both share a lot of common goals.”

Not only does Milton believe her society is impacting the student community, but she notices the impact within Leeds in general. She states, “I believe it does contribute to veganism in Leeds. By us hosting events in local restaurants and shops etc. we are showing how there is a growing demand for plant based in the student population. When we get some of our activism campaigns going we will also be influencing the general public to come talk to us about plant based. With this we also want to give back to the local community and fundraise for charities that align with our belief to further help Leeds.”

Athletes on a vegan diet have the ability to perform at a higher level as Matthew Ruscigno, vegan of 15 years and Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Group of the American Dietetic Association is an athlete who has completed iron-distance triathlons, solo 24-hr mountain bike races and ultra-runs, according to No Meat Athlete.

The choice to transition to a vegan lifestyle may seem like a hard one, but with the support and endless “meat free” alternatives, it can be done with ease.