Volunteering Experience at the Edinburgh Vegan Festival
Vegan Lifestyle Association
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while but life has got so busy recently. I solemnly swear that I am going to make more posts with less time in between, getting the work/home life balance has been hard for the first few months but I’m getting there.
Anyway, onto the post, on the 20th August 2016 I got to do something I never thought I would do, be a volunteer for a vegan charity at a very busy vegan festival! The Vegan Lifestyle Association is an important charity for me, only a couple of weeks after going vegan I attended the Glasgow Vegfest last December, and I was almost overwhelmed, it was so busy, so many different foods, different types of people, it was amazing, and different for me, but also overwhelming to the senses. I stopped at a stall (one of many) and got speaking to the guy working there, I told him I was very new and he was so friendly, very welcoming, said to check out the website, I signed up. It stuck with me, the guy being so nice, so I read the emails when they came (which really wasn’t often), checked out the website, followed them on social media etc. One day an email came out asking for volunteers at the vegan festivals in the UK. My initial thought was “That sounds great, but you know it’s not something you will ever do”. Negative thinking striking again, along with “You can’t volunteer for a vegan charity, you’re fat! What kind of example is that?!” I’m clearly lovely to myself, ignoring the 50 pounds weight loss I focused on the negatives.
Somewhere inside though the not so negative me thought just email, you will get to meet other vegans (I know none personally other than my daughter), you will get to do some activism in a non-scary way. I’ve always imagined if my life had went differently I would have ended up doing animal rights activism, even in pre-vegan days I dearly loved animals, the cognitive dissonance between loving them and still eating them pains me to remember.
So, I emailed, and got a reply, yes they would love my help, can you do these dates? So that was that, many months ago I signed up for something I dearly wanted to try, but almost stopped myself.
20th August cam around, I was terrified! Ridiculous really looking back, but I was so scared. I got on the train to Edinburgh begrudgingly, almost thinking of calling in sick, but didn’t knowing that no matter what I really wanted to do this.
Got to the Edinburgh Vegan Festival, I’d never been to where it was (the Roxburghe Hotel) but I had planned the route extensively, 20 times or more, double, triple, quadruple checking in case the roads had moved in the last 5 minutes, I took screenshots, written instructions, the lot.
When I got there I met David Harrow, the founder of the Vegan Lifestyle Association, lovely guy, I actually think it may have been him I spoke to at vegfest. He gave me the run down (I had extensively researched the charity already for days!) and we prepared for opening. I was doing 4 hours with him and another fellow, another lovely, slightly sarcastic chap called Roy who was arriving soon.
He gave me a T-Shirt which I changed into and I stood nervously waiting for the doors to open.
That’s me, in the toilet, nervous as hell!
The doors opened to a trickle, the VIP’s were in first, I watched David speak to a few people, one of the first people was actually quite anti-vegan, the first of a few, not sure why they come to a vegan festival but the VLA are completely non-judgemental and invite anyone to join for free, for advice, and support in moving towards a vegan lifestyle. It was good to see how David handled this and off I went. The trickle very quickly turned to a flood when the doors opened for everyone, Roy appeared and David went off to speak to other stall holders. Roy had done this before so it was great to be volunteering with him.
The day was a great success, we had very high sign up rates (it’s free to join, really, the only things you get are all positives, there is no catch), I spoke to so many lovely people, even new people, I wondered if, in a years time they might be volunteering somewhere thinking about that person who spoke to them at the Vegan Festival!
I would really recommend volunteering to anyone interested, for me it was a nice in road to activism, and I may continue on that path, I’ve been considering the Earthling’s experience in Glasgow, not sure if I’m quite that brave yet though!
I’m volunteering again, twice this year in fact. First off at the Scottish Vegan Festival on the 1st October and then again, at the very festival I spoke to the VLA at, Glasgow Vegfest, on the 3rd and 4th December. I can’t wait!
While at the Edinburgh Vegan Festival I also had some delicious food, a hotdog with cheese and nacho’s, plus some cakes. I love being able to buy vegan food! Also, more cool jerk vegan pies, I buy these wherever I see them, and I had bought them previously and posted on instagram, the guy remembered and gave me an awesome discount! Apparently he got a few followers from my post, result!
All round I really had a great day. I love my family and friends, but other than my daughter I knew no vegans, and it can be lonely. Getting to speak to literally hundreds of other vegans really felt food, and I can’t wait to do it again.
I’m now going to tell all of you why you should become a member of the Vegan Lifestyle Association – membership is free, they don’t bombard you with emails, they have a list of retailer discounts, offer one to one mentoring when required. They are completely run by volunteers, they don’t even have offices and no one takes a wage. Their aim of promoting veganism in a non-judgemental positive light, in the UK and everywhere. They have over 8000 members and are the largest vegan charity in the United Kingdom and they only started in February 2015.