With Dorset’s next Vegan Fair rapidly approaching, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the founder of Dorset Vegan, Lizzi Shaw this week, to discuss all things Vegan, the upcoming Vegan Fair and Lizzi’s passion to help the growing local vegan community.
There has been a lot of recent media attention given to the global rise in the number of Vegans (like this from the Independent and this from the Telegraph) and the Vegan Society now estimates that there are over 540,000 vegans currently UK.
So why has there been such an increase?
With the help of social media, there has been an increased awareness of animal welfare and environmental issues combined with the release of some hard hitting documentaries about the commercial meat and dairy industry (like ‘Cowspiracy‘ which is available on Netflix). It has been aided by widely recognised institutes like The World Health Organisation undertaking research into the health impact of processed meat and the sharp rise in popularity of healthy and ‘clean’ eating …and it has probably had more than a little help from a plethora of high profile celebrities like Beyonce and Brad Pitt adopting the lifestyle – either completely or in part.
Suddenly the ‘hippie’ vegan image is gone and more people are either making the jump to a completely Vegan lifestyle or dabbling with #meatfreemondays or #veganuary in an attempt to incorporate Veganism into their lives.
Lizzi Shaw, who had been a vegetarian since a teenager, became a vegan about 5 years ago as a result of seeing evidence of animal cruelty in commercial egg and dairy production. Her journey lead her to reach out on social media to find people with a similar mindset and Lizzie created her @dorset_vegan twitter account which now has almost 5,500 followers.
East Dorset has seen a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants open in that time, but 5 years ago, finding a place that would happily produce more than a salad for Vegan patrons was tough and Lizzie began to jot these places down, eventually turning it into an online resource to help others too.
Fortunately, now East Dorset has a number of dedicated vegan restaurants; Amala in Westbourne, Sweet Greens in Charminster and Mad Cucumber on The Triangle …plus a whole host of restaurants with vegan choices on the menu like the Lounge bars located throughout East Dorset and the newly opened Skinny Kitchen in central Bournemouth.
In 2014, bolstered by the success of her social media account and website resource and determined to continue to help and support her growing local vegan community, Lizzi decided that it was about time that Dorset had a Vegan Fair of its own. She booked space in the Highcliff Marriott hotel in Bournemouth and not really sure how many people would come along, Lizzi filled the room with vegan producers and kept her fingers crossed.
The day arrived and the room was filled with over 800 attendees!
Since that day, Lizzi has hosted lots more fairs with the next Bournemouth Vegan Fair on 17th and 18th June 2017 at the BIC in Bournemouth. Last year’s Bournemouth event saw more than 2000 people walk through the doors and this year is the first time the event is spread over 2 days.
Chock full with 90 stallholders – from cosmetics to clothes to food and everything in between – and with extra space for guest speakers and educational films, this June’s event promises to be fab and a full list of exhibitors can be found here. Tickets are available to purchase on the door but it is advisable to buy your ticket online to help cut down on queuing time.
If you would like to become more involved but can’t make the fair… if you have a twitter account, then you can join in with #veganhour every Tuesday at 7pm and #veganrecipehour on Thursdays at 8pm for some inspiration for new recipes (as well as our #dorsethour on Mondays at 7:30pm of course!).
Top Photo credit: Paul Underhill Photography. Bournemouth Vegan Fair picture used with permission from Lizzi Shaw.