Well attended: Over 1000 people turned out for the Ballarat Vegan Festival’s Twilight Market on Saturday. Organisers said it was the most successful part of the four-day event they had held. Photo: SUPPLIED

Empathy for animals at the heart of Vegan Fest

January 16, 2019 BY

THE fourth Ballarat Vegan Festival took place last week and it celebrated an animal cruelty free lifestyle.

A number of events including an art exhibition, twilight market and picnic were part of the festival.

Organiser Bryn Hills said the festival was inspired by a like event and continues to grow each year.

“It’s got bigger and better every year,” he said. “This year we’ve energised it into four days.

“The genius of it was attending World Vegan Day down in Melbourne. That’s been going for something like 15 years.

When it first started they had 60 people in Princess Park and this year I think there was over 20,000 people.

“I was really inspired by it.”

Even though the event aims for an animal cruelty free lifestyle, Mr Hills said everyone was welcome, including vegans, vegetarians and “meat eaters.”

To close out the festival attendees took part in a Walk for the Animals around Lake Wendouree followed by a picnic.

Wendy Morrison who lives in Canadian said it was good having a vegan event so close to home.

“I grew up in Ballarat and moved away and came back a few years ago, and the size of the vegan movement here is really good. For a regional area I think we do really well,” she said.

“It’s great not to have to leave Ballarat and go to Melbourne.

“I believe in animal equality and the more that we get out amongst open spaces and try and convey the message the more that people will be aware of animal equality.”

A vegan for five years, Garry Hall made the trip up from Geelong for the event.

A member of the Animal Justice Party, he said he came along to get behind the vegan movement.

“It’s to support veganism and dogs, of course. For me moving into politics and the Animal Justice Party, it was a no brainer to speak for animal rights,” he said.

An art exhibition at the Backspace Gallery hosted the launch of the festival and featured works in different mediums highlighting aspects of vegan culture.

They included pieces that asked people to consider how they used animals in their lifestyles as well as works that sought to create an empathetic bond between humans and animals.

Saturday’s twilight market event saw a range of animal cruelty free products and services on offer and it’s estimated over 1000 people attended.

Sales weren’t limited to just food, with cosmetics, pro-vegan merchandise and clothing choices also presented.

“What we’ve tried to do is get a real variety of different types vegan stuff that is available to enjoy,” Mr Hills said.

“It was the most successful event we’ve ever run.”

Organisers of the Ballarat Vegan Festival said planning is already underway for the 2020 event.