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Tim Barford: In Response to recent criticism of VegfestUK London

Tim Barford: In Response to recent criticism of VegfestUK London

| by Editor

VegfestUK London 2015 was in many respects a huge success, with over 220 stalls and close on 12,000 visitors, plus conference facilities that took the vegan lifestyle to whole new heights. All of us at VegfestUK are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from so many many people over the years, and in many respects this was the culmination of 13 years of graft.


Photo Credit: Wulfric Wills


But the show was not without its critics – and it’s important to address the main areas below:


(1) The presence of Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Primal Pantry

GOSH promote testing of non-human animals, and The Primal Pantry promote the use of meat and dairy through their marketing materials. Both applied for stalls and signed written contracts stating they would be 100% vegan at the show, including marketing material. See our Terms & Conditions for stallholders on this page.

GOSH were not allowed to open on Sunday, and the Primal Pantry removed their offensive marketing for Sunday. Neither would be welcome to trade at future VegfestUK events, as they contravene our criteria and have both breached our trust placed in the agreed contract.     

My Response: “I cannot apologise enough for allowing these two businesses to trade at VegfestUK – I have let down many many people, and non-human animals in the process. It’s my bad – I let them both trade. No one else – it was my responsibility and I’ve let you all down badly. I promise to ensure that we tighten up on criteria and in processing requests to trade at VegfestUK events in the future.’’



(2) Non-vegan items in some goody bags from a stallholder

One stallholder allowed approx. 20 non-vegan chocolate bars to be given out at the show. They were made aware of this serious error and removed any further bars. They made a public apology, accepted the seriousness of this mistake, and have pledged to be far stricter in future when checking free gifts provided for them.   

My Response: “It’s unacceptable for any stallholders to distribute non vegan items at our events and we will step up efforts to ensure all stallholders redouble their own efforts to check thoroughly, especially any stock they receive from an outside supplier. Again – profound apologies to all visitors to our events – it’s not acceptable and we will strive to improve on this area.’’


Photo Credit: Claire Hind


(3) The queues to get in on Saturday

We knew there was a big demand, and took steps to process the queues as quickly as possible, but still there was a lengthy queue to get in on Saturday.   

My Response: “It’s really off putting to have to queue for ages, and I apologise deeply for anyone having to  queue for so long. We thought we had raised the level of processing sufficiently, but clearly we hadn’t. We are looking at this area very closely in order to improve for future. Glad to say that the queues were processed a lot quicker on Sunday. It’s no good us ignoring this persistent problem as it visibly detracts from the whole visitor experience. We will work diligently to improve this area for all our shows.’’


Photo Credit: Martin Fodor


(4) Some people were turned away on Saturday if they didn’t have a ticket

We did reach capacity for the venue, and the venue management instructed us to close our cash gate. We did our best to warn people in advance of this possibility.  

My Response: “We are deeply sorry to have to turn people away. It was heart-breaking. We did indeed try and warn people this may happen...but even so, really distressing to travel and then find that there is no room on the door. We will examine closer this area, and look toward a possible advance ticket only scenario for Saturday at least – so that people don’t travel unnecessarily and then end up being so let down by us having to shut the gates.’’


Photo Credit: Wulfric Wills


(5) Not enough space to get to stalls and enjoy the show

We accept that we were full to capacity. We have hired an extra 4,000 sq metres for 2016 to accommodate more space and increased capacity. We are acutely aware of the need to improve overall visitor experience.    

My Response: “It was too busy for comfort for many visitors on the Saturday, although Sunday was an improvement. We will hire extra space and increase seating options, space between stalls, and other amenities.’’


Photo Credit: Vladimiras Lekecinskas


There were other issues of course, and we have plenty of customer feedback forms to examine over the coming weeks – and we appreciate all those that have given us their valuable feedback. We hope very much to continue to grow and to improve and critique is essential to achieve this. Many thanks for your support!


Tim added, “As manager of VegfestUK, I take full responsibility for everything that happens, and can promise a full and detailed review of these areas above to help ensure an improved event in the future, and thanks to all our visitors who got in touch to air their concerns.’’


xxx Timbo


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  • by Kathy V Foster
    reply Oct 20 2015

    What about the stall seling buffalo leather and feather dreamcatchers and the stall selling products containing honey? And Arbonne - please ensure non-vegan companies like these do not attend in future.

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