Oxfordshire’s Bunkfest Festival Foodies

I’m sure it wasn’t that long ago when I was going to gigs and all I could scavange to eat were some fries probably cooked in animal fat or the watery onions that accompanied the hotdogs. Fans of meat burgers and limp hotdogs were usually well catered for.

Festivals on the other hand told a different story. In my mind, the type of people who eat at Creamfields are drug riddled, meat chomping electro-heads, so probably don’t care much for falafel wraps. This is a guess. If you’ve been to creamfields, tweet me telling me about how many seitan burger vans there were-I’m curious. In comparison, Glastonbury, Bestival and the Isle of White festival are frequently crammed with wholefoods, smoothie stalls and vegan, gluten-free variants on almost any food.

Having been out of the festival loop for a good three years, I was surprised to go to Bunkfest in Wallingford and discover that there was an entire stall selling only vegetarian pizzas. For meat eaters, this isn’t very exciting, but there is a certain thrill of seeing over 9 different toppings, all of which you could eat. Well, could have eaten before I had become lactose intolerant/vegan.

There was an entire stall dedicated to vegan and raw food, but, disappointingly with cakes that contained eggs and butter. I was so surprised because it’s a tiny festival, there were only 6 food stalls. To have 2 out of 6 completely vegetarian or vegan is a great result. Worth a mention too was the Mexican tent that advertised it’s bowl of Chilli as vegan. Of course it was-it’s pretty difficult to put dairy in Chilli, but I felt excited nonetheless that people are starting to feel that it’s worth mentioning.

The festival was ok-it was folk music with a lot of people playing harmonicas and the odd accordian. At one point there was a female folk violinist lying horizontally on the stage pumping out a folk tune while her accordianist friend strutted like a Kaiser Chief across the stage. It was a bit odd, there are an inordinate number of weirdos wearing morris dancing gear wandering around town. At one point I was in Waitrose and this woman decked head to toe in green feathers and wearing bells drifted out from behind the detergent aisle.

I probably wouldn’t have gone had I not been here anyway, but if you are in the vicinity of Oxfordshire, it’s a free festival, lots of morris dancers (more of a warning than anything), and great food vans.

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Slug and Lettuce

Living in central London is like asking somebody to sporadically take your wallet and empty it into the gutter. Everything is unbelievably expensive. So it’s reassuring to fall into a Slug and Lettuce and know that, even if you push the boat out, the bill won’t exceed more than a tenner because the food is standardised gastro-pub fare. Slug and Lettuce describes itself as a ‘high end, premium venue’. I wouldn’t go that far.

The Slug and Lettuce in Artillery Row, Victoria was half empty. Exhausted looking politicians slouched on the leather couches, waving their arms wearily at their companions, and a couple of women were having a catch-up chat over a half empty bottle of red.

Vegetarians have come to expect more and more from places like Slug and Lettuce and Weatherspoon’s joints. There’s a vast selection, from lasagne to Hummus and Flatbreads. Vegans are less well catered for. New to vegan living, I stared hungrily at the goats cheese flatbread, before resigning myself to the food that contained hummus. It seems to be the Slug and Lettuce’s top vegan option. And not all of it is suitable.

The FLT Wrap (Falafel, lettuce and tomato) comes with creme fraiche, but the lovely waitress told me that I’d be able to get that removed and have a vegan wrap. Sick to my back teeth of falafel and hummus (even though it’s still one of my all time favourites), I opted for the Penne Arabiata.

This is a meal I call ‘child’s food’. It’s pretty much pasta and tomato sauce with a hint of chilli. It even comes with garlic bread. Who still thinks that double carbs are a good idea? Luckily they were drenched in garlic butter so I had to give it a miss.

The pasta was watery and the sauce was watery and had no other flavours in it other than chilli. Arabiata needs a rich, thick tomato sauce to carry the meal through. Vegetarians and vegans are trying to ethically save the world! We need more to sustain us than flimsy shreds of pasta and some bland tomato puree.

That said, Slug and Lettuce, with its standardised food and relatively cheap menu provides a unremarkable meal for vegans and vegetarians alike looking to eat out with omnivores. A special mention to the staff at this point as the waitress went and got the allergy spreadsheet and showed me what items were edible for me.

3/5 for Vegan selection

Being an involuntary vegan

Thanks for dropping by my new blog. I’ve been blogging a travel blog now for a few years (check it out at my-big-fat-carbon-footprint.blogspot.com) but was blown away by the great food I’ve eaten around the world. I wanted to share that, but also to explore what London has to offer in the way of vegan and good vegetarian food in restaurants that don’t necessarily label themselves as vegan or health food conscious. I, like many vegans I’m sure, don’t care about only eating bean sprouts and mung bean burgers-I want flavour, spices, taste and yummy things. So I’m going to try to find it for you. 

I’ve been a vegetarian all of my life because that’s how I was brought up. I had never questioned why I was vegetarian until very recently (I’m 22 now) and just assumed that my way of life was as it should be. But if we never reconsider ourselves, we become stagnant, so I thought it was important to justify why I was vegetarian to please those legions of meat-eaters who constantly question why I don’t eat meat or fish. I’ve been reading a few books,including ‘The Ultimate Vegan Guide’ by Eric Marcus, and I’ve realised that my diet choice is based entirely on ethical reasons.

Then, two weeks ago I realised that every time I ate dairy products I was sick. I discovered that I was a lactose intolerant vegetarian. Well that blows. I love cheese, yoghurt, Ben and Jerry’s, creamy dressings and quiche. I had a bit of a cry once I realised that my life was going to turn upside down. And then I decided that this was going to be a positive experience, and I’d attempt to make a conscious, positive decision to live a different way of life for a while.

So I gave up eggs, and now, I guess, I’m a food vegan. To find out where there are great places for vegans and vegetarians to eat in London in restaurants that aren’t necessarily vegetarian, keep an eye on my blog. Oh, and I’ll be putting bad places up too. The cafe in Immediate Media HQ is the first place to receive a horrific review.

‘Do you sell any vegan stuff?’

‘What’s vegan?’

‘It’s like vegetarian, but no dairy. I’m allergic to dairy.’

‘Oh, that sucks. But no, we definitely don’t have any vegetarian food, so we don’t have, what’s it called, vegan food?’

Behind her was a rack of muffins, croissants stuffed with cheese and tomato and jacket potatoes.

I gave up.