There are a few simple reasons why Ballarat’s vegan food movement is booming.
One, says festival founder Bryn Hills, is that more people want lead a cruelty free lifestyle.
Ballarat Vegan Festival Inc. director Mr Hills became a vegetarian 20 years ago –six years ago he switched to veganism.
Since then, the movement has exploded. From vegan wines and beers to perfectly passabledairy free brie or soft cheeses, the ability to eat good food without any animal product is easier than ever before.
“It’s like a light bulb moment when you choose to become vegan. You realise all the bad things that are done to animals and how they a treated and raised,” Mr Hills said.
“Being a vegan is easy –I always think it would be so much harder to be a slaughtered animal(than being a vegan).”
On Saturday Mr Hills and a group of vegan devotees were handing out food samples at the farmers’ market ahead of the vegan food festival which runs from January 14-22.
Treats for tasting included spaghetti bolognaise –made from textured soy protein, tomatoes, hers and stock; a shepherd’s pie with a lentil, cumin and curry powder filling and chilli beans made from beans, cumin and chipotle.
“Twenty years ago it was difficult to be a vegan, now it is very easy. There are statistics that show last year 100,000 Australians took meat off their plates,” Mr Hills said.
The seven day Ballarat Vegan Festival will include a festival launch, a voiceless walk around Lake Wendouree to raise awareness for animals and promote peace over violence followed by a vegan high tea, an art exhibition, a lakeside picnic and cocktail party.
There will also be a wine tasting day at Nitingbool Winery and a Yum Cha evening.
City of Ballarat councillor and fellow vegan Belinda Coates said the event would promote a healthy lifestyle whiel else brining economic benefits to the city.
“I’ve been vegan for almost 15 years –(but you) don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to enjoy good, art, music and cultural events,” Cr Coates said.
“(The event)is a a sign that Ballarat is changing culturally and that there is a lot more on offer in terms of diversity.
“This really enlivens Ballarat and helps promote Ballarat as a really thriving art and cultural destination.”
Cr Coates said the growing vegan movement was proof more people were now aware of the “sound health, environmental, ethical and even economic” benefits of consuming less meat.
For the full event time table visit the Ballarat Vegan Festival Facebook page.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Bryn Hills and Alison Major at the farmers’ market in the Bridge Mall. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
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