PAMELA Anderson does it. Morrissey does it. Even Beyonce and Jay Z have experimented.
Following a vegan diet is becoming more and more commonplace, with vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes popping up in towns and cities across the UK.
More and more meat and dairy-free products are coming on to the market, too, making the conversion to a vegan lifestyle a lot easier to get on board with.
And now thousands of people are expected to attend Edinburgh’s first dedicated vegan festival next Saturday.
About 70 stallholders will showcase their wares at the event, taking place at the Roxburghe Hotel in Charlotte Square.
The festival has been organised by the team behind the Newcastle Vegan Festival and is supported by Vegfest Scotland, an event making its debut in Glasgow at the end of the year.
Tim Barford, right, organiser of Vegfest UK – which already runs events in Bristol and Brighton – and Vegfest Scotland, says there are two main reasons veganism is on the rise.
“The first is health – it’s very clear that the myth about dairy has been exposed,” he says. “A lot of us were brought up coming out of the war being told to drink milk because it’s good for you and full of calcium, but they neglected to mention that most of the calcium in milk is not absorbable. You’re better to get calcium from something like spinach. There’s also the weight issue with dairy products.
“The second factor is an ethical thing. A lot of vegetarians, especially over the last five years, have converted to the vegan way of life.
“There’s been a rise in media coverage – with people like Beyonce and David Haye announcing they’re vegans. They are role models and these guys have smashed the myth.
“People are also more aware of how cruel the dairy trade is and they are recognising the rights of animals to be left alone and not be used as a food source.”
The vegan festival will give visitors the chance to buy meat and dairy-free products, as well as learn more about the diet and watch cookery demonstrations.
Tim will be on hand to show people how easy it is to get protein into their diet.
“I will be doing a hemp smoothie demonstration,” he says. “The most frequently asked question is, where do you get your protein when you’re following a vegan diet?
“Hemp is an incredibly good source of protein so I try to introduce people to quick, easy, cheap and accessible ways to get protein into their diet.
“It’s about using food as medicine and nutrients, and it’s also about having fun with it.
“We are delighted to be sponsoring the Edinburgh Vegan Festival.
“There’s a big interest in all things vegan and compassionate and we are thrilled to be a part of that.
“Going vegan is easy and it’s never been easier.”
He adds: “I turned vegan in 1984 when I was working in Thurso as a tree planter. At that time there were very few people who were vegan and there was very limited option for vegan food.
“Although you could easily get all the basics – seeds, nuts, grains, lentils, pulses, fruit and vegetables – the production of vegan products was very rare, such as your vegan ice cream, ready meals and cakes.
“But fast forward 30 years and the rise in vegan products has been huge. The consumer-led vegan drive has been phenomenal.
“There’s been a 20 per cent drop in dairy sales in the supermarket over the last five years and a 15 per cent rise in plant-based milks. That’s a pretty good reflection of the nation’s consumption.”
A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Vegan Festival says: “We’re delighted to be bringing the first vegan festival ever to be held in Edinburgh city centre. The festival will attract thousands of people from all over the UK.
“There is no better way to market, promote and develop your vegan business this year. It is a fun-filled day with talks, stalls, workshops, freebies and much more for all the family. Exhibitors will be offering a wide variety of vegan produce, including cakes and chocolate, hot takeaway food, make-up, clothing, pet treats and cheese.”
n The Edinburgh Vegan Festival takes places on Saturday, August 8 from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Vegfest Scotland will take place at the SECC in Glasgow in December, www.vegfest scotland.com