In this guest blog, Jasmine Owens from V for Life writes about a pleasant weekend spent running the Mature Zone at VegfestUK London 2017.
The Mature Zone is widely considered a place of sanctuary amid the hustle and bustle of VegfestUK. With established and up-and-coming speakers, as well as the only pay-as-you-feel cafe at the event, the Mature Zone is quickly becoming a popular destination for festival-goers.
While I’ve loved attending and volunteering at VegfestUK before, this was my first experience working at the Mature Zone with V for Life. VegfestUK to me has always meant fantastic comedians and activists, mind-blowing food and of course phenomenal crowds (and queues). This past weekend I had little chance to experience any of that, because the constant influx of people to the Mature Zone meant our hands were needed firmly on deck.
As the charity for older vegans and vegetarians, V for Life supports mature people with special requirements every day. The Mature Zone is a chance for our support-base to come and meet us face-to-face, and hear from speakers who’ve travelled cross-country to share their knowledge at VegfestUK. But most importantly, the Mature Zone is an opportunity for us to meet the inspirational older veg*ns at the heart of our charity’s work.
It was an absolute treat to meet, for example, John ‘Maz’ Marriott, getting the full VegfestUK experience on his new scooter, funded by V for Life’s Vegan Fund.
“I had to come and see you all and thank you in person.”
Maz is one of the exceptional people who visited the Mature Zone this weekend. We were so happy to be able to support him so that he can continue with his vegan activism whilst living with M.E., or chronic fatigue syndrome. Maz has been vegan for 30 years. He’s written a popular recipe book (The Chip Butty Vegan), hunt-sabbed for 28 years, and worked as a wildlife and marine life medic. Not to mention the fact that he’s been arrested 33 times for animal rights activism.
Maz was diagnosed with M.E. in 2008, and his health has deteriorated to the point where he’s mostly house-bound and dependent on a carer and a scooter. This means it’s impossible for him to continue all of the activities he’s been involved in throughout his life. He requested that V for Life fund a high-powered scooter that will enable him to spend an entire day outside, even at sanctuaries and in hilly Brighton, without worrying that his scooter will run out of power and the day will turn into an exhausting ordeal.
We couldn’t think of a better person to support, and meeting him in person for the first time on his bright yellow scooter was an absolute highlight of the weekend.
Plenty more went down in the Mature Zone this weekend. We had talks from the author of Vegetarian Guides, Alex Bourke; travel writer Caitlin Galer-Unti; and VfL’s Chief Executive Amanda Woodvine, among many more. I also shared some stories of older vegans and vegetarians, and the audience had a fantastic discussion about what it means to be an older veg*n today.
We had vegetarian history radio show (The Vegan Option) host in the crowd, members of the Hare Krishna community, and some lovely older veg*ns at our social event. One such attendee was an 86-year-old lady who’d been vegan 42 years and seen the movement grow. She commented: “I would never have imagined a festival like this could happen when I first became vegan. I wish I could live long enough to see how things keep changing and how many people become vegan in the future.”
The entire weekend was a pleasure to experience for all of us at V for Life. Thanks to everyone who came and helped create the fantastic atmosphere in the Mature Zone.
We’ll see you again next year!
The Mature Zone will be back at VegfestUK Brighton 2018, on both days March 24th 25th 2018, at the Brighton Centre.
Advance tickets for the event will go on sale from January 2018 at www.brighton.vegfest.co.uk