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World Vegetarian Day - behind the scenes

Vegetarian activistChristchurch Vegetarian Youth Group member Kirsty reports from the Vegetarian Expo held at Shirley Intermediate School in September.

This year Vegetarian Expos were held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. They all took place in the last weekend of September to celebrate World Vegetarian Day, which is on October 1.

The Christchurch Vegetarian Expo at Shirley Intermediate Hall ran from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 30 September. It had a wide range of stalls selling lifestyle products and vegetarian/vegan foods, cooking demonstrations, presentations and speakers, films and videos, a raffle and a very popular sausage sizzle (that sold out despite the fact that the organizers has ordered three times as many sausages as they thought they’d sell).

The Vegetarian Youth Group ran the Vegan Sweet Stall (selling fudge, vegan ice cream, sherbet, lollipops and chocolate) as well as helping at other stalls or areas of the Expo where more people were needed. At one point I helped as a “waitress” around the food stalls and tables where people sat to eat to make sure people put their recycling, compost and rubbish into the correct bins, and for a short time in the afternoon I sat behind the raffle and survey table. I personally found that the hardest thing out of all the jobs was trying to stop the ice cream we were serving at the Sweet Stall from melting as we served it! Sometimes we had to swap tubs of each flavour around to try and keep the stuff cooler.

My personal favourite duty that the Youth Group had to do was dressing up in chicken and bear costumes to hold signs advertising the expo beside the main roads. I think the bright orange and yellow chickens attracted more attention than the black and white signs, but the purpose was still achieved when some people decided to stop and see the expo. And every strange look we got was made up for by the support others — even people I didn’t think were vegetarian or vegan — showed.

I think the Vegetarian Expo was a huge success here, mainly because of the surprise I received on seeing so many people in and around the school hall throughout the day. At times it was hard to negotiate a way around the hall, let alone to the front of stalls! The expo was a great way to generate support for local and New Zealand vegetarian or vegetarian-owned businesses. Awareness of vegetarianism, veganism and the reasons why people choose these lifestyles has also been raised.

October 2007