Vegan and vegan-curious people gathered at the Port Philip Eco Centre in St Kilda on a cool, sunny autumn weekend.
The inaugural I Love Vegans Festival took place over two days (28th-29th of April) in Melbourne, Australia.
Team Earthling arrived early on the Saturday. In a whirlwind of introductions orchestrated by the charismatic dynamo, Myke Ke (one of the festival's organisers), we met the I Love Vegans team, including the industrious co-organiser Missy, founder of Kohii Love.
|I Love Vegans Festival, day two|
Being the inaugural festival, it was a small. It was truly grass roots and people-oriented, vital for boosting a sense of community and belonging.
It attracted a diverse group of people, mixed brand new vegan businesses and organisations in with those who have been established for years. It gave an opportunity to the new vegan businesses and organisations to be a part of the vegan community.
As the two days unfolded over the cool weekend it became clear that a community was developing at the festival. Many participants came and went, but a large core had developed friendships and camaraderie, something which would not have been possible had the festival only been held over one day.
The entire volunteer team did an amazing job and it is testament to their ability to learn from their mistakes and others' suggestions that day two was an improvement on day one.
A mixture of entertainment, including belly dancing, Zumba, and a fashion show provided a warm atmosphere for those gathering. The music was non-obtrusive and generally kept at a level where people could still engage in conversation.
There was a huge emphasis on raw food, including stalls, and also demonstrations run by Missy. Many learned how to successfully open a coconut without giving our kitchens and anyone observing a coconut water shower.
The fashion show in particular was a big hit. With designs from Kohii Love, hair by Compassionate Creations, with shoes from Vegan Style and Etiko (who also provided some t-shirts), and, as pictured below, underwear by Thunderpants.
|Fashion show featuring Thunderpants|
The rusticity, camaraderie, and sense of community are really what set this festival apart from the huge event that was 2011's World Vegan Day.
The festival, overall, was a success. On the Facebook event page attendees praised the festival, with one attendee declaring, 'Best weekend! i [sic] officially <3 vegans', and another, 'Had the best time! Highly awesome event! :)'
The next I Love Vegans Festival is something to look forward to.
If you want to be part of the ever-expanding international community, head over to the I <3 Vegans Facebook group and join.
- Stevie Schafer, 2012