It’s been a few months since the release of the Vegan Oslo app on android phones and our big release party we called ‘Eat For Compassion’. I was having a coffee today and just reminiscing on how much of a great time we all had and I thought that I should write a blog post to celebrate it again and let everyone who couldn’t be there know what it was like! Eat For Compassion took place on the 16th May 2015; a one day vegan festival organised by Norsk vegansamfunn and us to celebrate restaurant day (read more about what restaurant day is here) and the launch of Vegan Oslo on Android phones (get it now for FREE!). There was so many activities crammed into that day it will be hard for us to remember them all but here goes...
The week before this event was kind of crazy! I was running around Oslo trying to organise party things like a PA system, decorations, music and so much more. At the same time, Christian and I were trying to finish the Android version of the Vegan Oslo app, so my brain was filled with tech stuff too! Meanwhile Marte from NVS was rallying the troops to make the vegan Restaurant Day the biggest and best one yet.
The night before the party we were cramming party props and paintings, mountains of food and lots of gifts from our sponsors into a car, looking very tired and looking very forward to sleep. How can you sleep though, when you have a huge vegan party to organise the next day? I lay in bed going through everything that I still had to do, I was as excited as I was stressed! I arrived to Grendehuset at about 10am, Linda, Annette, Christian, and many of the other awesome volunteers from NVS were already there, getting food ready, decorating the tables and making coffee for everyone. We all set to work and by 12pm, the whole place was starting to look great!
The PA system arrived and so did some hungry early birds. I put some music on and let everyone begin with Restaurant day. We had a great little restaurant set up where you could pay 60kr for a small plate of food or 100kr for a big plate. You could fill up on so many tasty things!
Restaurant day: vegan style!
- Ingrid made a great salad containing quinoa and baked veggies (sweet potato mainly, red onion, plum tomatoes, etc) plus delicious spices.
- She also made yummy squash with Indian spices from a Veganmisjonen recipe, mixed up with seasoned quinoa.
- Ingrid also found time to make sugarfree, glutenfree spirulina balls - a healthy delight! They were made from hazelnuts, almonds, glutenfree rolled oats, stevia, agave, shredded coconut, spirulina.
- Bea made minipizzas, with different toppings: potato/cream cheese/rosemary, tomato/cheezly/basil, pine nuts/pepper marinated red onions/roasted bell peppers/zucchini, roasted garlic/jalapenos/broccoli, fennel/mushrooms/spring onions.
- Raw cucumber sushi rolls with guacamole, bell pepper, mango, carrot and purple cabbage, made by Kristine.
- She also made wraps with carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, purple cabbage and hummus or guacamole.
- Couscous salad with veggies and beans, flavoured with turmeric and coriander. This was made by Marit.
- Parsley hummus (green silky smooth combination of hummus and mayo, chickpeas meets soy cream, made from a Veganmisjonen recipe by Linda.
- Heavenly carrot spread (very simple to make - delicious, sweet carrots and beans, spiced up with soy sauce, tahini and parsley) made by Linda.
- Hot/sweet curry mayo (veganese with agave for sweetness and hot madras curry for that mphf-flavour) another great one made by Linda.
- Balsamic-marinated tomato and red onion (marinated overnight to let the white balsamic do it's acidic wonders with the onion) topped with fresh basil, made by Linda.
- Facon because... facon! A traditional recipe made by Linda with a hearty dose of sriracha.
As well as all of this there was a fantastic selection of cakes and treats made by the other members of NVS and some other lovely volunteers. It was only 20kr per cake - what an absolute bargain!
As people were settling down and tucking into the food, I was still stressing around the place decorating. Anyone who knows me would say that is typical. We had a fun outdoor photobooth to set up with balloons and bunting and props and I had to arrange an exhibition around the venue too. With the help of some of the lovely vegans in NVS, we managed to sort all of that out pretty fast, and then sat down to a plate of the yummy food.
The #eatforcompassion exhibition!
As well as hosting a launch party, we had planned an awesome photography exhibition! We asked our community to tag their photos of vegan experiences on instagram with #eatforcompassion so that everyone could get an insight into how people practise veganism in their everyday lives. The point of this was to show that there are so many ways you can be compassionate and that all different types of people can be compassionate. Kindness is for everyone after all. Everyone who tagged their picture was in with a chance of winning a prize at the party! (see our awesome prize list below) The week before the festival, I send over 100 entries to the printers to be included in the exhibition. There were some fantastic images of vegan food, gorgeous animals and creative snapshots of how to be compassionate and vegan! They looked so cool up on the walls of the festival venue.
As I sat down to eat my (delicious) dinner I looked around me and couldn't believe how busy it was, it was actually quite worrying! I was expecting 250 to 350 people to come party with us across the entire day but we had already had that amount of people by 2pm! People were queueing out the door, and onto the street to come eat our fancy vegan buffet. I felt a bit bad that we didn’t have a bigger venue. By the time it got to 4pm we had to announce that we were almost out of food! Some people were a little disappointed but there was nothing we could do, and overall I think most people were just glad that so many people had come along and were taking an interest in veganism. Luckily, the bands arrived around then and in the madness of the packed venue I managed to sort them out some nice food to eat before it ran out completely.
Get the party started!
At 6pm we officially opened the Vegan Oslo android app launch party with our compere Vidar Tingstad. He was our hunky vegan host for the night (you might have seen pictures of him sweating on a bike around Oslo on a SAT’s advert) and he sure enough brought a lot of fun to the party. He walked into the venue to the song ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ with his hair slicked back and a posh suit on. After a lot of dancing he took to the mic and introduced the first musical act for the night: Marcello Valerio. The stage looked excellent at this point, all our hard work decorating the venue had paid off and there were balloons and flags and colours everywhere. Marcello started us off with some beautiful music, he is a fantastic musician, check him out on Soundcloud.
As Marcello was playing our special guest judges for the #eatforcompassion instagram comp were busy walking around the venue and deciding which of our many entries should win the prizes. We had two guest judges: Jane from Veganmisjon and Mirja from Made With Love Raw Kaker. They found it so hard to pick winners but we finally awarded prizes to a few amazing entries. We had so many prizes donated by our excellent sponsors to give out that day that it felt like christmas. In fact we had a whole table bundled up with gifts for our guests. Some people even won more than two prizes (lucky things!) If you didn’t come along, you definitely missed out. You could have won some cool stuff.
As well as giving out prizes for the exhibition, NVS also organised a GREAT quiz and the winners won some of the prizes that our sponsors donated. However at the end of this we STILL had a table full of stuff so we held a raffle and we managed to get rid of all the cool stuff as Hanne Fjelstad took to the stage to play her set for us all. Her music is so pretty, inspired by everything from Lykke Li to John Lennon. Her style is vintage combined with cool Norwegian modernism.
Where do you get your protein?
When I was organising Eat for Compassion, I kinda knew that most of the people that were going to come along would not be vegan. We purposely didn’t include the word ‘vegan’ in the name of the festival, instead choosing the word ‘compassion’. We did this because we wanted to entice the meat eaters, vegetarians, environment focused folks, fair trade hippies, health focused foodies, veggie curious dudes and ethical thinking people along. We wanted to show people who aren't vegan (yet!) what a vegan party looked like. We know that for many people, the word ‘vegan’ is loaded with many preconceptions and stereotypes of what veganism or vegans are like, so we used the word ‘compassion’ instead, as to be vegan is to be compassionate. Everyone can get behind the idea of being compassionate and everyone wants to be kind.
So, I knew that we would have many non vegans at the event and I knew that there would be many questions all throughout the day from these non vegans about vegan stuff. However, I am also conscious of the fact that people are shy, people are embarrassed to ask, people feel guilty when they ask and people are scared of confrontation. The interaction between a non vegan and a vegan when thy ask something like ‘where do you get your protein?’ is often a frustrating exchange for both parties. The non vegan comes away from the situation either feeling guilty or stupid and the vegan comes away from the situation wondering how many more times in their goddamn life they are going to be asked that question.
I wanted to devise a way for non vegans to get answers to the questions they might have in a non confrontational and helpful way. I had an idea of making little posters to put up around the venue with the most popular non vegan questions on them. If a non vegan was interested in that particular question they could go over to the poster, see the question on the front, lift open the flap and read the answer to their question without feeling judged or that they were in a difficult social situation. It is a kind way to educate others on veganism and it saves the vegans in attendance from spending the whole party explaining how they can live without cheese.
These posters were a great idea, everyone seemed to love them and find them interesting. We will be posting more of them as separate posts in the upcoming weeks for you to share and enjoy. Stay tuned!
Going bald for NOAH
After all the different events happening that day, it was almost time for me to step up on stage myself. I had been nervous about this part of the festival all day. You see, for a number of weeks leading up to the launch party, I had spent my time fundraising for NOAH. I just wanted to do a little bit extra for animal rights other than making my app and having the party and I thought that the Eat For Compassion event was the perfect situation for a little fundraising stunt to raise awareness. NOAH - for Dyrs Retighetter is a fantastic charity that have done and continue to do so much for animal rights in Norway. They put animal rights in the spotlight and fight so hard for it be taken seriously in the media, in parliament and socially. Read more about the things they have achieved here. Via Bidra.no, I pledged that I would shave my head completely bald if I could raise 5000 kr for them and sure enough, a few days before the festival was about to take place I reached my target and way beyond it.
So now it was the night of the party, it was 9pm and I was about to step on stage and be shaved in front of a lot of people! I took a deep breath and walked into the room. The venue was packed out as I got up on stage, there were people spilling out of the room and a massive crowd ready to watch the live shaving! I felt such a rush of adrenaline. I went up on stage and thanked everyone for coming and thanked everyone for contributing to what had been the best day of my life. The culmination of months of hard work making the Vegan Oslo app and curating our database of over 100 vegan places in the city was this very moment, the work we had put into organising the festival and the efforts of the many people who had contributed in any way they could to make it great was just amazing. My heart was so full of love to see a room full of happy people who were all having a great time in the name of compassion (veganism really haha). It made all the hard work worth it. I was so proud of everyone and so glad of my friends in Oslo who were doing what they could to help animals.
After getting a bit emotional (I started to feel a bit like when a celebrity makes an acceptance speech too long and they cut them off by playing music) I decided that maybe it was time I shaved the hair off! I sat down and Nick got the clippers out. (Nick is the only one I would trust to shave my head!) He set to work as a room full of people surrounded me with camera flashes and cheering and in that moment I felt totally serene and content. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life. It wasn’t long before the first section of hair was cut off, I quickly saved it in a little bag. I had decided to send my hair to The Little Princess Trust in the UK; a charity that makes wigs for little kids for cancer.
Get your ass on the dancefloor...
It all happened so fast! Within a minute or so I had aesthetically gone from average joe with a couple of tattoos to a (somewhat patchy) awesome badass bald chick. I hugged everyone and had my picture taken with some people from NOAH. We all went inside and danced our asses off to the last band: Wauwatosa. They had a full set up and were absolutely excellent. I shared some beers with people and everyone rubbed my head. There were still so many treats and cakes left over so we just shared them around the party.
“Feather” Wauwatosa’s newest offering sounds like dreaming. Fans of First Aid Kit and Lykke Li will enjoy Wauwatosa’s calming synth infused tunes, and can find their EP Luftbrücke available via their Bandcamp. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Other places to get their music are iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Wimp.
The party ended the way all good parties end: in a massive dance off! We had a dance floor set up by this point and were really thrashing around the room to Run The Jewels, Outkast, Millie and Prince! I have to say that our playlist for Eat For Compassion was excellent! Luckily for you we have made it available on Spotify so that you can re-live the night again! That night, I went home a tired, bald, happy lady. Vegan Oslo was finally available on iPhones AND Android phones, we had a great party, raised money for a great cause and raised awareness of veganism. I just want to say thanks one more time to everyone who helped out with the festival, I’ll never forget it.
Nick Hagger & Christian Ihle
They’re the two behind the scenes guys at Vegan Oslo! These two complete the Vegan Oslo team and worked equally as hard in the run up to the festival and on the day in making it fantastic. Christian is the man at Vegan Oslo who handles all the technical stuff and often has to interpret my crazy app designs and ideas into reality. He did a fantastic job making the android app, it’s so cool to work with a good tech guy. Nick has been working with photography, blogging, research and developing the Vegan Oslo database. He is a clever guy and I feel lucky every day that he is by my side.
Marte is the leader of the Norwegian Vegan Society and through this has become one of my very good friends. We organised this festival together. She continues to inspire me every day with her commitment to making veganism accessible, thoughtful and fun. She gives so much to the vegan community. Without Marte, this event wouldn’t have been half as good as it was.
Thank you so much to the amazing volunteers from Norsk vegansamfunn who put so much into the festival You did an excellent job of restaurant day and helping out in any way you could.
Wauwatosa, Hanne Fjeldstad, Marcello Valerio, Vidar Tingstad, Jane Johanson and Mirja Finnstad
I feel so lucky that we were able to get such excellent musicians, awesome guest judges and a brilliant host at Eat For Compassion. Thanks so much for making the party so goddamn fun!
Last but not least, here is a MASSIVE thanks to our sponsors, everyone who donated to NOAH and everyone who came and bought some food at restaurant day!
The photos from the party are on our Facebook page. Feel free to tag yourselves and your friends. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, follow the playlist on spotify, and download the app at the Google Play Store and the App Store.