The good news: The second semester is almost over. The bad news: I have so much more work to do before I can take a serious break. More good news: The Leeds Half Marathon is tomorrow 🙂 The bad news: When I tried to register, all the spots were booked (Although not running in the half marathon frees up more time to complete some work).
But I have some great news from today: The Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival took place in the Queens Hotel in Leeds, and I was there 🙂
The Queens Hotel seems to be an odd place to hold a vegan festival, considering it’s a very upscale hotel (Perhaps because the festival venue was an upscale hotel, the entrance fee was £2) and upscale hotels and vegans don’t seem to be a good fit. Or maybe, I’m totally wrong. As much as such a festival should be held outdoors, that might be unwise in this country – considering that the mother nature is never sure whether to bring rain or sunshine.
But the most interesting part of the vegan festival happened early on – and not in the Queens Hotel, but in the nearly White Cloth Gallery (the site of a Jimi Hendrix exhibition. Today is actually the last day of the exhibition). Several workshops were held in the Gallery, and first of them featured former footballer Neil Robinson (he played for Everton and Swansea City). The most noteworthy thing about Mr. Robinson is that he was the first known vegan footballer (He even showed everyone in the gallery – we were actually in the gallery with the Jimi Hendrix photographs – a video of him scoring against West Bromwich Albion when he was a member of Swansea City).
As expected, Mr. Robinson extolled the virtues of veganism (He actually said there are some footballers who adapt a vegan diet only during the season). I won’t bore you with all the notes I took down during the speech but despite emphasizing the importance of exercise, he stated “You can’t exercise out of a bad diet.” Fortunately, I was able to ask him a couple of questions – (a) What does he eat for breakfast and (b) And does he recommend soy milk? The answers: (a) a smoothie and (b) Yes, he does.
Normally, for me, the best part of vegan/vegetarian festivals are the food. There were so many delicious choices – but not enough for me to feel comfortable splurging on food (Speaking of food, I saw Steve, a regular at the raw food gatherings in Leeds, drinking from a coconut. Which is very healthy 🙂 but much more suited for a tropical setting). The interesting thing was there was so much vegan junk food – such as brownies and cookies – on hand. Of course, there were plenty of healthier options available, like Indian food (I had a delicious veggie burger) and other Asian delicacies, as well as healthy vegan animal food. But I didn’t see any smoothies 😦 Or maybe I was looking in the wrong places.
However, even better than the food available was the diversity of groups/organizations out in force. You know any good vegan restaurant in the area would be present trying to satisfy the stomachs of attendees. But I was very happy to see various members of the Green Party, people selling natural products (like soap) and even members of a Vegan Runners group. Fortunately, there are several other vegan festivals in country and they were advertised.
The next time I go to a vegan festival, I should bring more money.