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The mini-festival focuses on plant-based lifestyles as a way of reducing carbon footprints and took place at the Parkgate Road Campus.

The festival welcomed back stalls from restaurants and societies across Chester, as well as departments from the University, who were keen to showcase the plant-based food and products on offer. There was also a social area to enjoy the food and meet like-minded people.

The eco-friendly festival also provided tips on how to reduce plastic, grow your own food, and make your garden more wildlife friendly. The University’s Grounds and Garden’s team lent their expertise on how to make outside spaces more wildlife-friendly, and brought along their impressive wildlife house – which was a favourite among the visitors. “I really like their stall – you can tell they’ve put in a huge amount of effort,” one attendee said.

Delicious sweet and savoury food tasters were on offer by Jack Burrito, Falafel Xpress, the University’s Catering Department, and the Seaborne Library Green Impact team. Maddy Brown, Project Manager of the Seaborne Library stall, said: “I really enjoyed hosting a stall at VeggieFest. It was amazing to share vegan food and recipes with people so that they could try something new. Can’t wait for next year!”

Wok & Go had a lucky-chopstick-dip, offering prizes such as discounts or free meals. One lucky winner, student volunteer Othilie Roullet, even won a year’s worth of free meals! Craig Smith, a member of staff at the University, said: “Seeing commercial companies there really made me feel like they cared about vegetarianism and veganism and that it was more of a committee approach to awareness. The competitions that some stalls had, such as Wok & Go, were exciting and the social media presence was nice to see as I could keep up with the event even after I left.”

Ellesmere Port Vegan Society was on hand to answer any questions about going plant-based, and offered tasters for alternative plant-based milks.

There were also stalls by Love Food Hate Waste, Just Footprints (the local plastic-free shop), and Green Chester – all offering advice on how to lessen your impact on the planet. Ringana also attended - showcasing beauty products that are kind to animals and the planet, and Odd Voice Out Press had a stall promoting its inclusive, realist sci-fi book about climate change and its effects.

Over 250 people attended the event, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People were surprised at the taste and variety of the vegan food on offer, and people who were already plant-based came away with new ideas.

One visitor said: “I enjoyed the jackfruit wraps from Catering and the overnight oats from the Library – and the cake from Jack Burrito, and the Falafels from Falafel Express were delicious. It’s great to see the festival supporting local businesses – that’s a huge positive.”

The emphasis on local, eco-friendly businesses was echoed by many of the visitors. Another piece of feedback was: “The food was fantastic, and it was great to see local companies getting involved”.

Chloe Percival, who founded the festival and works in the University’s Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions team, said: “The turnout at VeggieFest this year has been fantastic! We had more information stalls this year and I was delighted that so many visitors took the time to read them. It is great to see so many people interested in taking small steps towards a sustainable lifestyle.”

Lauren Holmes, who works in the University’s Library team and is one of the organisers, said: “Sustainability is not just a personal choice – the urgency of the problem means that we have to spread the word as much as possible. Helping animals and the environment requires a huge amount of optimism in the future, and events like this really help. We will always be accessible and approachable to people from all walks of life, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, actively meat-reducing, or just interested in trying plant-based food and products. The aim of VeggieFest is to show that the tools are out there to change our impact, and it’s easier (and tastier!) than ever to go plant-based.”

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