We visited a vegan community Sommerfest in Austria. The food of course was incredible, but what was more incredible were the people we met. Even in rural Austria there’s a thriving community of vegans making a difference.
It was by total chance that we came to the fest. We saw a car with a veggruf.at sticker in the window. Intrigued, I looked it up to find out to my surprise that it was a vegan organisation in none other than Paul’s Austrian hometown! Sabine Hahndl founded the association which supports animal welfare and spreads compassion. She is a truly inspiring person, spreading love wherever her barefeet take her.
Veggruf = veggie + Weckruf ('wake up call')
Veggruf is a group of motivated and compassionate people, who aim to promote animal welfare by emphasizing the responsibility of man for animals and the environment. Mindfulness and conscious life are in the foreground. They spread awareness and motivate people to change their diet and live more consciously. They are a non profit orginisation and raise money for animal protection. They do this through events and educational outreach, and by showing how delicious vegan food can be!
Veggruf ... stands for change, action, reflection.
Veggruf ... stands for entertainment, activities, and joy!
Rinderwahnsinn - A Farm for Life!
The three day celebration took place at a farmhouse in rural Austria, in the Waldviertel. But this was far from the ordinary farm you would expect! Klosterhof Rinderwahnsinn is a vegan organic farm, where plants and animals thrive. Hubert Gassner, a generous and warm-hearted farmer, used to rear cattle for meat. But in 2014 that all changed, when a letter from Stefanie Buchinger fluttered through his letterbox. She had just rescued six pigs and was looking for a place where they could live...
This letter came at just the right time, when Hubert was becoming increasingly uncompfortable with sending his animals to slaughter. This turning point led to Hubert becoming vegan and turning his farm into a "Lebenshof". Literally translated as a life farm - it's a sanctuary, a place where the animals aren't grown as a product, but simply allowed to live. Where they have names, a personality, friendships, and long lives without cruelty.
We were lucky to visit both the cows and the pigs. To sense their intelligence, and appreciate their individual characters. It was the first time I have been close to pigs and cows that would not be killed for their meat, or used for their milk. It was touching and profound, as well as a little sad.
The Fest was raising valuable funds for the sanctuary. It costs 45 euros every month to look after just one cow. You can donate to the Lebenshof here. And if you are looking for a lovely vegan friendly place to stay in Austria, we can also recommend their holiday house - you can find booking details on their website.
A Party Where You Can Eat Everything!
We love all vegan buffets!
- No awkward need to ask questions about ingredients
- No nasty suspicion that you've accidently eaten something that isn't vegan
- No need to go hungry!
- And best of all - no cruelty to animals.
Each day the Fest wowed us with a vegan buffet of epic proportions.
On Day 1 Eva Maria of the SEITANerei filled our plates with homemade dips, salads and her own selfmade seitan products. She's been making her own seitan since 1999 and mainly uses spelt flour. Did you know that you can make seitan by washing and rinsing flour, until you have just the high protein residue?
On Day 2 all of our raw vegan dreams came true, with a breakfast from Cornelia Schenk - Hintermeyer of Raw Vegan Happiness. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the body.
Later we were treated to another vegantastic buffet, made by Steffi of Rinderwahnsinn. We loved her delicious goulash and the Dinkelreis (Spelt rice), which was grown on Hubert's farm.
And on Day 3 the lovely members of Veggruf treated us to a farewell breakfast, made with love. We enjoyed the array of colourful spreads and tasty cakes from fellow vegan food blogger Cella of Ehrlich und Echt.
Our highlight was an Austrian classic called Germknödel. These are a steamed yeasted dumpling filled with plum preserve, topped with poppy seed and vegan butter. So amazing, we can't wait to try making them ourselves!
Another food highlight was the constant supply of Feuerflecken and Palatschinken to make yourself. A Feuerfleck is a rye sourdough flatbread baked on a grill. It's a traditional dish in the region of Lower Austria. We had it with Rinderwahnsinn's delicious Vegan Schmalz (vegan onion 'lard'). And a Palatschinke is a flat pancake, filled with our favourite Austrian preserve - apricot jam!
Fun at the farm
It might seem like we spent all the time eating, but there was plenty of other activities to enjoy as well. We went on a wild herb walk with Sabine and gathered edible plants from the fields. Sabine shares her wild herb knowledge and creative recipes at Naturveg.at. Check it out!
We also heard from Jennifer Frank on her new book about Outdoor Cooking with Wild Herbs. You know how much we love foraging and cooking outdoors, so we were very excited to hear all about her adventures and recipes.
Here you can find out more about Jenny's book - Wildkräuter-Outdoorküche.
And what visit to a farm is complete without a tractor ride! We wonder if there's a record for the highest number of vegans on a tractor at once 🙂
A weekend to remember!
We went to the Fest not knowing anyone, but came back with new friends, a head full of inspiration, a belly full of food and a heart full of warmth! Thanks to everyone that made the Fest happen - especially Sabine.
AND news just in: The fest raised an incredible €4444 euros for the Lebenshof. That's gonna make a lot of happy pigs! WAHOO!
Since becoming vegan, we've often found it hard and felt a bit alone when we were in Austria. But after this weekend we are overwhelmed with gratitude and positive feelings. And to see that the vegan movement is very much alive and on the move in Austria. Finally we feel part of the vegan community in Austria.
Sophie and Paul
Have you ever been to a vegan Festival?