After three successful events in Vilnius, the plant-based food fair Vegfest LT is finally coming to Kaunas. Farmers, manufacturers and traders of all things vegan will gather in Park Inn by Radisson hotel on September 16th. After realising there’s less than a month to go, we met with Ventė Viteikaitė, the mastermind behind the fair, to ask her a few plant-friendly questions.
We’re of course very glad the event we’ve heard so much is coming to Kaunas, but we must first ask why. Have you fulfilled the requests of the local vegan community or is it something you yourselves had planned?
Vilnius has become a little bit too tight for us and yes, we’ve been looking at Kaunas for quite some time now. The community of vegans and people interested in plant-based nutrition is quite big here, there are also a lot of students. There are some sceptics, too, but I’m positive and I’m sure that Kaunas will give us a friendly welcome.
Is the festival focusing on die-hard vegans that know what their life path is or are you also looking forward to meeting those asking questions and still deciding?
We aim to spread the ideas of veganism and we don’t limit ourselves to vegans. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone interested in veganism, healthy living, ecology, animal rights etc., also those who like to try out new things. There’ll be plenty of something new to try in the festival – seitan (meat substitute made of wheat gluten), tempeh (another meat substitute made of cooked and fermented soybeans), jackfruit (a tropical fruit vegans all over the world are raving about), vegan blue cheese, kombucha, rejuvelac drink and much more. Many people think eating vegan means eating blandly, but that’s far from truth. Those choosing plant-based diet affirm that never before they ate so well and diversely.
The polls show that little bit less than 20% of our attendees are vegan; this means it’s really an event for everyone. There’s nothing to be afraid of – Vegfests are famous for their friendly and laid-back atmosphere. There’s also plenty of amazing food! There’s always an info point where you can grab a magazine, a leaflet or a recipe card; this is where you talk to our vegan volunteers.
We think it’s #kaunastic that your events support the idea of local farms. Could you reveal which products grown or made in Kaunas we’ll be able to find in the festival?
Small businesses based in Kaunas are of our biggest interest in this event. Places like Ridikas, Doda, Antras aukštas and Žali namai are all attending, as well as event caterers Vegan pipiras and vegan butter manufacturers Sviestas sviestuotas. Maisto kultūra, importers of vegan snacks, have also confirmed, as well as Toskanos dovanos, suppliers of oil made in South Italy. Many more, actually! We’ve also invited participants from other cities, even countries – Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Sweden, Italy... A lot of our frequent participants will join as well.
Why Park Inn by Radisson?
When somebody asks me, what is the hardest part of organising an event, I admit it’s the location scouting! We went through more than a dozen event spaces in Kaunas; this one suited us the best – we liked its size, the central location and the fact that the team were really flexible and supportive.
We often feature vegan and vegan-friendly places here in Kaunastic. Which are your favourite spots in Kaunas?
I visited Doda a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it! The prices were very friendly, too, compared to Vilnius. I’m also a big fan of Vegan pipiras. They make brilliant kibinai (traditional Karaite pastry very popular in Lithuania, - editor’s note), I can eat 10 of these!
Is Vegfest LT all about food or can we expect to do some vegan accessory shopping, too?
We’re first and foremost a food festival but you’ll also be able to find recipe books, kitchen gadgets, natural cosmetics and accessories, also vegan merchandising and baby goods. All of the above is 100% vegan.
How is Lithuania doing in terms of veganism, compared, to, say, neighbouring countries? Is there something we can be proud of?
My friends from England always tell me they’re amazed how far we’ve gone in the field, being such a small country! The Lithuanian vegan group on Facebook boasts almost 20,000 members; our festival was only started last year but is also doing great; shopping malls announce about new vegan items every week; you can find vegan-friendly places to eat in smaller cities like Jonava and Alytus. Estonian visitors have also told us our event is much better in quality terms than those in neighbouring countries. So, yeah, veganism is trending all over the word, and we’re in the avant-garde.
See you in Vegfest LT on September 16th. You can also attend the event on Facebook and help spread the news!