Leaving his office-based job behind and fully embracing the vegan lifestyle was a big turning point for North Kensington resident JP McCormack but even he didn’t think that within one year of setting up the Portobello Vegan Night Market he would be winning the award for the UK’s Best Vegan Market from the Vegfest Vegan Awards.
“We were in a category with twelve other markets from across the UK: Glasgow, St Albans, Froome, Surry, Brixton and many more - and there were strong contenders - but we won!” he says with obvious pride.
But what does he think set the Portobello Vegan Night Market apart from the others? “It’s different cos it’s got vibes,” JP says. “It’s real, it’s raw, it’s a community party as well as a vegan party and the whole community gets behind it - everyone’s welcome, whether you’re vegan or not it doesn’t matter. Families, kids, pets, everything, it’s great fun, it’s a great vibe … it’s mixing those vegan vibes with Portobello vibes.”
And that is surely one of the secrets of the PVNM’s success, JP has combined two things he loves with a passion: the vegan lifestyle and Portobello, an area he calls “the centre of the universe”. The market has DJs and producers of vegan non-food products, such as beauty and healthcare items too, but JP likes to train his focus on the community aspect.
“We want to see the market grow and get many more people involved and get many more local traders involved, many more local artists, make it a regular occurrence,” he says. “The most important thing is to make sure this market is here for a long time, it’s here for the community, it’s here for everyone to enjoy and I want to see it flourish.
“Winning this award means the world,” JP goes on. “It’s amazing in just over one year: it’s pretty much a one-man show, obviously with the help of the Westway Trust. … it’s a lot of work, it’s very grassroots, is very organic and so it’s for the whole community. This [award] is for everyone that supported it, this is for Portobello.”