This Saturday we took a trip 30 minutes down the road to a little town called Lyndhurst (if you haven't been to Dorset yet we have some amazing surrounding areas from where we live) to the very first New Forest vegan fair.
I (Jenna) have been vegetarian for around 14 years, i made the decision after i saw videos on the slaughter industry and the distress animals would go through and i decided that i didn't want to be a part of it. I made the decision that day, told my mum and never ate meat again. When i met Carlos back in 2013 he still ate meat, not a lot but he would still have a meat for meals each week and when we ate out, he's Portuguese and so raising and eating animals is very much a part of his culture and what he was raised around, however, after we met of course we would be eating the same meals and i would be cooking a lot (and i would not cook meat) so slowly he started to see not only the cruelty free side but the health benefits and it was this that convinced him to switch over completely to Vegetarian around 3/4 months into our relationship. Much to the surprise of his family :P
For those of you who don't know, being vegetarian meant that we didn't eat any meat or product in food from slaughtered animals but we did eat things that contained milk or eggs. We haven't shouted about it massively but around 2 months ago we actually made the decision to turn our diet fully vegan which now means we don't eat anything which contains any animals based produce and only eat a plant based diet. We have always made a conscious effort to research products which we use in the house and cosmetically but we don't shout about the vegan switch or class ourselves fully vegan in every sense because we do still have leather product in the house / wardrobe which of course full vegans would not do. Its actually something i have a mental torment with in my head quiet often but i praise anyone who takes steps forward towards a vegan / vegetarian lifestyle and the difference it makes on the industry and therefore i try not to be too harsh towards myself, things may change in the future.
The Vegan fair was actually the first to take place in Lyndhurst and it was organised by the lovely people over at Dorset Vegans and New Forest Vegans (please check them out!) and from the hour long queue that we were standing in outside to get in to the venue and the people we were squeezing through to get to the next stand i think its safe to say the event was a great success! There were over 40 stall inside and lots of local businesses who produce vegan cruelty free product or food and it was just so exciting to see. I always say that 15 years ago when i turned vegetarian there used to be a handful of items in the frozen section as alternative options for food (generally mashed up veg and potato shaped things) and i feel now every year (or even sometimes every month at the moment) the frozen, chilled and free from section is just growing bigger and bigger and this gets me so excited to feel as if theres a serious movement towards recognising that the meat industry is not only cruel but is killing our planet quicker than anything else we know.
Although i find it so much more accessible to buy vegan and vegetarian food now days having so much choice under one roof was incredible and as you can see we had some amazing home cooked cakes and savoury food to choose from and so we literally emptied our wallets to all this local goodness and left with bags of amazing product! To give a shout out to what we purchased here are links to some of the amazing companies we loved while at the fair:
Meat free Martha - we purchased a bunch of savoury cakes from the lovely Karen i can't even tell you how good they were, Carlos is eating one above!
Faith in nature - Shampoo, conditioner (in a new watermelon smell) and two new soaps - we love this stuff and its every day essentials for us!
Dr Bronner's Pure Castile Soap in Hemp tea tree- Carlos is a massive soap man, he uses it to wash his body, face and beard and this soap you can literally wash everything with even your clothes if you need to! Its like a must have in the soap world
Burley Fudge - My god for anyone who misses fudge this is a MUST it tastes so creamy but is completely cruelty free
Pana Chocolate in Fig & wild orange and Sour Cherry and Vanilla - Originally from Australia this raw organic dairy free chocolate is divine!
Solkiki Chocolate in Raspberry white chocolate and Tahitian Nougat white chocolate in salty peanut - I mean these flavours are to die for. I didn't like white chocolate when i ate diary chocolate but these were too good to resist!
Hella's Farm Extra virign unfiltered olive oil - Carlos is an olive oil man, he drinks the stuff so any good quality oil and he can't say no!
Now we simply can't wait to attend the even bigger Bournemouth Vegan fair on the 25th and 26th June - if you are in the area i recommend coming along too.
After our Vegan shopping extravaganza we decided to make use of the time we had in this lovely town and took a walk. One of our favourite pass times is to visit small villages and rummage through the charity shops to find what treasure we can find! The weather was so lovely that day too, we could hardly say no!
En route home we also stopped and took a walk through the New Forest. If you are ever in the area be sure to bring your walking boots as you wont want to miss the beautiful walks you can do and you may even catch some of the wild horses and other animals hanging around.