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Veg Out in Style

1 October 2015
Veg Out in Style
This year Veg Out festival took over the Northern Monk Refectory for a weekend of dangerously delicious vegetarian and vegan street food and treats - as well as an extensive line up of class bands and acts. Surprisingly for a September weekend in Leeds, the weather was particularly well behaved, meaning the outside area of the Refectory was transformed in a mini festival complete with DJs, outside seating and of course endless streams of bunting.

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Over the weekend there were continuous gigs taking place on the top floor venue with sounds of thrashing guitar playing and bellowing ballads reaching all corners of the Refectory. Names included punky acts such as No Ditching, Husband Material, Post War Glamour Girls, Unwave, Bearfoot Beeware, Chaika, Super Luxury, Fawn Spots, Molars, Cameron Vale, Bathmetry, Teen Brains and ZoZo – plus many more. On top of this the Northern Monk team were holding an open brewery session with tours and sampling taking place throughout the day – allowing an insight into the processes behind that signature Northern Monk taste.

Various stalls and pop up shops were operating including a ‘screen print your own tote bag’ workshop which brought art work from the Veg Out branding into life, creating admirable fashion pieces as well as a vegetable inking stand. Other stalls included some luscious loaves from Leeds Bread Co-Op, stealthy pints at The Real Cider Company bar, vegan bakes from That Old Chestnut and brews from coffee connoisseurs North Star Coffee roasters. Art work from And/Or Emporium and I AM Collective also featured with other graffiti style works being showcased around the venue – plus there was the opportunity to take to the drawing board yourself with colourful designs covering the art wall.

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Resident restaurant, The Grub and Grog shop, had their strongest veggie game face on with a host of herbivore delights. The Grub and Grill Shop BBQ was all fired up and kicking out some grilled halloumi lovelies wrapped up and smothered in veggie heaven (i.e a heap load of hummus) with a Cocktails and Crumpets bar combining two much loved pastimes – drinking and eating things covered in butter. Upstairs in the restaurant was a special ‘Hash and Bun’ menu curated specially for the event and comprising of options such as buckwheat and leek patty, braised beans and chilli plum sauce in a toasty bun or a bubble and squeak hash with stout mustard and sautéed greens.

As a vegetarian foodie myself I felt slightly overwhelmed by the choice of food vendors, many of whom I’d been admiring on Instagram for some time in the hope that we would some day cross paths. Such stalls included Dorshi and Manjit’s Kitchen, both high acclaimed in the street food circles for their pioneering use of fresh vegetarian produce to create delectable and ethical dishes. Winner of the Young British Foodies Street Food category in 2014, Dorshi is the perfect example of what street food should be about – doing something that hasn’t been done and doing it with fresh, local produce. Their pan-Asian creations use largely Dorset (where they are based) sourced ingredients and their team strives to offer something a little bit more unusual on the street food scene, with taste remaining at the forefront of their creations.

Neighbouring Dorshi’s little set up is the unmistakable vibrancy of the Manjit’s Kitchen sunshine yellow van. For anyone that has dabbled in Indian Chaat, these guys really know how to do it the right way with their menu of chilli paneer wrap, Masala Dosa and beer battered onion bhaji plates. Gleefully tucking into my Masala Dosa I instantly knew what all the fuss was about: it had a lightness and cleanness in texture and taste which signalled both expertly sourced ingredients and skilful preparation.

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Strolling round Veg Out I felt the event tapped into a feel good festival vibe whilst filling a gap in the market for alternative events which combine food, ethics, art and music in a way that felt both friendly and fun. Although slightly niche, the selection of street food vendors and stalls felt varied and showcased passionate traders who have a gusto for food and produce. The alternative and punky feel was assisted by the stellar line up of bands and the various art works provided a different dimension to the festival. Due to the success of the event plans are already underway for Veg Out 2016 with Northern Monk creating the perfect pairing for this exciting and merry event.

Becky Peartree is our resident food writer and is in her final year at Leeds University where she studies English Literature.