Our visit to Vegan Summer fest in 50 photos! Belgium’s first vegan festival

Yesterday BE Vegan hosted Belgium’s first* vegan festival in Gentbrugge. Ghentbrugge is near the city of Ghent, about 40km from Bruges, so it was only about a half hour drive for us.

vegan Summer Fest, KerkGent, gentbrugge, August 23, 2015
vegan Summer Fest, KerkGent, gentbrugge, August 23, 2015

We decided to go early. Partly because the weather forecast warned for possible thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Also because the inscriptions on the FB event led to suggest there was going to be a huge turnout (more than 4000 people). So we wanted to avoid the ‘big crowd’ and we arrived a little bit before noon.

The festival was mainly inside one of the halls of KERKGent. Inside the hall were stalls of organisations like Bite Back, Animal Rights and host organisation BE Vegan, and also several shops selling mainly shoes, books and food. In one shielded corner of the hall were some seatings for the scheduled talks (about vegan activism, vegan bussinesses etc).
The big foodstalls were outside and next to that was a tent where the food demos took place.   

Inside the Hall @vegan Summerfest
Inside the Hall @vegan Summerfest
talks about vegan bussiness, ... inside the hall
talks about vegan bussiness, … inside the hall
Foodtrucks outside @vegan summerfest
Foodtrucks outside @vegan summerfest
Tent with fooddemos
Outside tent with fooddemos, Lyra in action

Although we were there early, the queues for the main foodstalls outside were getting longer rapidly. We first got in line for some food from Loving Hut, but after 10 minutes and hardly any progress we gave up. A bit later we managed to get a burger from the Cherryfoodtruck, which was quite nice. Here is an overview of the other things we ate:

vegan burger from Cherryfoodtruck, 6,50
vegan burger from Cherryfoodtruck, 6,50
satay with peanut sauce, 6,50€ Hong's vegan catering
satay with peanut sauce, 6,50€ Hong’s vegan catering
two icecreams from Bar Italiano, 2€ each (bounty and coffee)
two icecreams from Bar Italiano, 2€ each (bounty and coffee)
a cinnamon roll from the Veggie Snack Shack, 2€
cinnamon roll from the Veggie Snack Shack, 2€
Liegeois waffle, 3€
Liegeois waffle, 3€

We could have eaten some more (another burger or wrap would have done nicely), but the queus for the foodstands were very long (a friend we talked to queued one hour for food!). The waffle took us about 40 minutes. We nearly gave up on the waffle, and reading the comments about the waffle vendor afterwards on FB (about his right wing sympathies and selling non-vegan chocolate sauce), I wish we had! The organisers from BE vegan have clearly stated though that he is no longer welcome on future events. Good!

The foodstalls were clearly not prepared for this huge turnout. By the time we left (15.30) some foodstalls were sold out or already skipping items from the menu. Of course, it’s great to see there was such big interest in the festival! But as the festival was scheduled to continu till 9PM, I guess the people who came later in the afternoon or evening will not have had to opportunity to choose between so many things as we did.

There was a very nice photo exhibit at the rear of the hall, with framed photos from the project We Animals donated by Jo-Anne McArthur (sales donated to BE Vegan). Very touching …

Photo exhibit from Jo An McArthur
Photo exhibit from Jo-Anne McArthur

Here are some more photos from inside the hall

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And some more impressions from outside:

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We also listened to some bits of the first fooddemos (from Elien/Deathstaroneamission and Lyra/ Cardamon). I would have liked to listen to the debate between the different organisations, but after listening for about 5 minutes to one of the previous talks (about shop VEDGE), we gave up. There was too much noise from the hall, and we could hardly hear the presentation. Pity.

A curiosity at the entrance of the hall, was a handpalm reader. Strange! After reading some comments afterwards on FB, apparently he crashed the party and was removed! I had never heard of a festival crasher before 😀

We bought some chocolates from Confisserie Jonas (5€ each), some cream cheeses from SHAVT (4€ and 3,5€), lupine (3,95€) and lupine spread (3€) from Powerpeul and some raw balls from Happy Herbi (11€ for 5). And a T-shirt from Sea Shepherd (25€) and an wrist armband from Animal Rights (2€).

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All in all we had a very enjoyable afternoon. 🙂 It was great to see some old friends, and meet some people I knew from social media or blogs, but hadn’t seen ‘live’ before!
It was of course very exciting to see this huge turnout, but this did cause some logistic hic-ups (long queues at the foodstalls, long queues at the toilets – I only saw 3! and no facilities for wheelchair users).
I would have liked to see some more focus on animal rights or the ideology of the movement in the talks or discussions (although as said, we didn’t attend the talk in which the different organisations presented themselves, so don’t know to which extent it was mentioned there).

We thought prices for the food were reasonable, certainly taking into account that this was a FREE festival, with no entrance fee to be paid! That way, there’s a low treshold for people who are interested to come take a look and for vegans to bring non-vegan friends along. So I think it’s great this was a free festival, instead of for example the 15€ that had to be paid for Biolicious (an organic fair in Ghent earlier this year).

I hope this turns into an annual event! You will definitely see us again next time 🙂

Vegan Summerfest – Belgium
August 23, 2015
KerkGent, Gentbrugge, location
organised by BE VEGAN

*There is an annual hardcore music festival in Belgium that is also vegan since the beginning, many years ago, Ieperfest in Ypres (see our blog about it HERE). But vegan Summerfest is the first festival with the core focus on veganism.

Icecream!!!
Icecream!!!
BE Vegan, Belgian Vegan organisation
BE Vegan, Belgian Vegan organisation
vegan Summer fest
vegan Summer fest

Als je deze review in het Nederlands wil lezen kan dat HIER op onze NL blog, Veggieleven.be

26 Comments Add yours

  1. sporkbill says:

    Great review! I really enjoyed it too, although I’m really disappointed to read about the Waffle man. We also stood in line for something like 40 minutes for the waffles and they were really good (luckily, I don’t think any of us took the chocolate sauce), but now my waffle memories are tainted by knowing that he’s at the very least knowingly serving non-vegan sauce, and is possibly also a nazi-sympathizer. 😦

    I wish I’d take the time to check out the Jo An McArthur exhibit! It was just so crowded, it was hard to see everything. (Which YAY! It’s so good to see so much interest in veganism!)

    1. brugesvegan says:

      Oh, that’s a pity you didn’t get to see the exhibit really well. When we were there, there was still plenty of space (as you can see on the photos). You can see a lot of her photos on the website of We Animals too.
      Yeah, and indeed a pity about the waffle man. But good that it is out now, so people know.

  2. Dirk B says:

    This review summarizes our own impressions from the Summerfest as well. It was good to see the two of you back. 🙂

    1. brugesvegan says:

      thanks Dirk. It was great seeing you too and to catch up.

  3. Shannon says:

    Wish I could have been there. Looks fab. Thanks for the review!

    1. brugesvegan says:

      thanks for dropping by shannon. Glad you liked the review!

  4. Amazing! We need something like this in Serbia! 🙂

    1. brugesvegan says:

      It would be great to see such festivals in every country, or even more local in the regions! I’m sure Serbia will follow in years to come 🙂

  5. Looks like you got some great food! There was a food demo at my vegfest too… what recipes did yours demo? Were they any good? Hope you had fun! 😉
    A festival crasher? Lol 😀

    1. brugesvegan says:

      thanks Clesea. the first two demos were with breakfast recipes and everything you can do with aquafaba (the brine of chickpeas, which is used to make vegan meringues etc).
      The vegfest you attented this weekend also looks great!

      1. That’s amazing, they actually had an aquafaba demo?! I would’ve loved to see that!
        Yeah, Vegfest was awesome too 😀

  6. Jacqueline says:

    Great to see you bought our products! Although the prices you mentions are not correct: the lupin beans from POWERPEUL are € 3,95 and the lupinspread is € 3,= Hope you enjoy them.

    1. brugesvegan says:

      oops, yes that’s a mistake. Thanks for letting us know Jacqueline. I’ve adjusted it in both blogs (the Dutch one too).
      We’ve already tasted the spread which is great, but stil have to try the beans!

  7. Jenny says:

    I love events like this, mostly for the food but also for the wonderful sense of community. The ice cream looks especially fantastic!

    1. brugesvegan says:

      I agree Jenny, the sense of community is also very important. Although in the digital age, vegans can reach out and get to know each other via a lot of social media, it’s nice to have a group feeling and see them in ‘real life’ too 🙂
      We do know a lot of other vegans IRL, but I’ve seen comments from people who don’t, so for them it can be especially meaningfull to see so many other people with similar interests!

  8. This looks awesome! Food looks amazing :p

  9. Sophie33 says:

    It looks that you had a fabulous tile! thanks for the cool reviews!

  10. I love that there was a Loving Hut, we have two LH restaurants here in Melbourne so I am a bit obsessed with Loving Hut menus around the world 🙂 All the food looks good!

    1. brugesvegan says:

      This is the mobile Loving Hut Express!
      Next to that there are two Loving Hut restaurants in Louvain (close to Brussels).
      I’ll be posting a review soon of one of them. Stay tuned! 🙂

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