On Saturday the 6th of May the Nottingham Young Quakers group (NYQ) went on a trip to visit the ‘Viva Vegan Festival‘ at Nottingham Conference Centre. It was delightful day out, and busy with over 3000 attendees, during which we sampled a significant proportion of the fine vegan fares on offer. From delicious hot dogs, smothered in ketchup and mustard, to piping hot plantain, exuding aromas one can only describe as divine, we tried it all. Needless to say, we very much enjoyed ourselves and being in each other’s company as we meandered through the seemingly never ending congregation of vegan businesses.
This day however was not only filled with guilt free indulgence (although I’d be lying to say that it didn’t play a significant part), it was also an educational and moving experience reminding us of our role as custodians of the planet we call home. The whole experience stimulated reflection and thoughtfulness about the impact of our actions, however small, on the world around us. From how we nourish our bodies and dress ourselves, to the way in which we treat the animals which cohabit our planet, the stalls we found ourselves amidst left us thinking about the way in which we live.
One particularly interesting experience at the event was attending a talk on the parallels between veganism and feminism. This talk compared the battles and issues faced in the feminist movement to those faced by animals in meat/dairy industry. From the loss of control of their bodies to being treated as property, a number comparisons were made. The most striking for me being the graphic depiction of the process through which cows are made to produce milk. More information on some parts of the talk is available here.
One thing however that this festival made us reflect upon is the relevance of veganism, or even vegetarianism, to Quakerism. Veganism, in essence, is based around the fundamental principles of equality, sustainability and compassion, all of which are cornerstones of Quakerism. This is an idea that stimulated discussion between us as a group and managed to add another dimension to the trip. Overall I think it is safe to say that we all very much enjoyed ourselves and took something away from this day out.