Does Manchester’s Northern Vegan Festival attendance indicate a rise in veganism?

THE overwhelming attendance of Manchester’s Northern Vegan Festival suggests that veganism is becoming increasingly popular, according to organiser, Roderic Alasdair Haigh Hanson.

This year’s annual festival took place on Saturday, April 23 and attracted over 4,500 visitors, which is 1,000 more than 2015.

Roderic, 50, said that this was without a doubt “the busiest festival yet”.

Roderic also mentioned that the event page on Facebook had a bigger response than any other year, with almost 2,800 people accepting the invitation to attend.

Two huge Oldham Street venues, Sachas Hotel and the Methodist Church, were filled with over 200 stalls for the festival.

The festival attracted queues that stretched around the block and the waiting time for the main venue, Sachas Hotel, was over 75 minutes during in the day.


Queue for the Northern Vegan Festival. Photograph: Chantelle Heeds

In order to cater for the overwhelming demand for the next festival, which is returning to Manchester on Saturday, October 15, Roderic said he is going to add at least one more venue.

Roderic explained why he and his co-organiser felt there was a demand to host a Northern Vegan Festival.

“No one was really doing vegan festivals in the North of England. They were only happening in the South and the Midlands so we decided to do one in 2012 and did the first one in Manchester in 2013.”

Since it began, four years ago, the festival has shown rapid growth in attendance.


Bar chart: Infogram

Although there was a noticeable drop in attendance in 2014, when the festival was held in Blackpool, Roderic was not fazed by this as he understood that it is a small town with a limited audience.

The increasingly high demand for the festival suggests that there has been a clear rise in veganism.

Additionally, research conducted by The Vegan Society backs up this indication.


Infographic: Piktochart

Jimmy Pierson, 31, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, added: “Given the available consumer data, comparisons of growth in other countries, the vastly increased positive media coverage we have seen and the record numbers visiting vegan fairs, we expect the new figure [of vegans in the UK]  will be significantly higher than in 2006.”

This raises the question as to what has made veganism more appealing in recent years.

Many vegans at the festival agreed that there had been an increase in veganism and each had their own ideas as to why this might be.

Vegan cake stall holder, Anna Prendergast, 29, had a theory.

“I think veganism has become more popular in recent years, it has become much more mainstream. I think people are more aware of clean eating now and they are more aware of what they are doing to their bodies,” she said.

Similarly, Roderic had an interesting explanation as to why veganism has recently become more popular.

He believes that celebrity culture plays a huge part in influencing society and educating them about vital issues within the meat production industry.

Another reason for this may be due to the accessibility of horrific footage displaying animal cruelty.

An iAnimal stall at the festival, ran by Animal Equality, offered an eye-opening virtual reality experience into a slaughterhouse via a headset.

The aim of the stall was to make people aware of the process that takes place before meat reaches the supermarket, said Toni Shephard, 44, executive director of Animal Equality in the UK.

“These headsets have allowed us to show everyone what it is like. We can not take everyone to the slaughterhouse, but we can take the slaughterhouse to everyone,” said Toni.

Other stalls on offer included information about various charities, stalls selling vegan beauty products, vegan pet food, and of course, vegan food – the event offered a huge range of food in the style of many international cuisines.

The festival charged an entry fee of £3, of which the majority of profits went to charity.

Roderic admits that he has seen a huge change in the attitude towards veganism, since the Northern Vegan Festival began, and he thinks that Manchester caters particularly well to their needs, in comparison to any other city in the United Kingdom.

It seems that he is not alone in thinking this as many attendees of the festival also praised Manchester when it came to appreciating the wide range of vegan restaurants and cafés the city has on offer.

Outspoken Vegan YouTuber, Heather Stephenson, 20, who vlogged and attended the event, said: “I think that there is a shift happening, especially in big cities such as Manchester. Businesses are noticing that Veganism is becoming popular and therefore it is beneficial to them to make Vegan options available.”

One thought on “Does Manchester’s Northern Vegan Festival attendance indicate a rise in veganism?

  1. vegan angle says:

    Interesting, but Manchester has long been a stronghold of the vegan movement. Bear in mind that the vegetarian movement (from which the vegan movement developed) started in Manchester in the mid 19th Century. Moving on, it was Steven Morrissey of Stretford, Manchester, who wrote and sung ‘Meat is Murder’ in 1985.

    I was in Manchester the day after you posted this and visited both the 8th Day Cafe and Unicorn Wholefoods, two good, long-established businesses, whose only fault is too much of an emphasis on ‘organic’, which can alienate potential customers because of the high prices.


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