WHILE growing up, Catherine Phillips, the founder of the Durban North Vegan and Craft Market, also had a keen interest in protecting animals.
When she was a teenager, she discovered Beauty without Cruelty and would receive their newsletter and pamphlets each month, telling her all about product testing on animals in the beauty industry.
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The market recently closed its doors to the public due to a lack of interest from stallholders and supporters during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I became a vegetarian at the age of 13 as I felt such compassion towards the animals. At the time, and while growing into a young adult, I did not know any other vegetarians and had definitely not heard of the term veganism. While pregnant with my son at the age of 22, I unfortunately was pressured into eating fish as I was told by many that I was not getting the right nutrients and protein for my growing baby,” she said.
Phillips says she was ignorant and did not have the resources to find out what the correct foods to eat as a vegetarian were.
“Unfortunately, this led to me starting to begrudgingly eat meat again, although it always nagged at my conscience. When my children were still young, I finally decided to follow my heart and stopped all meat eating again. As the internet became more popular and with the advent of Facebook, I was able to discover more about vegetarianism and even came across the concept of veganism. I was horrified that I was still supporting the cruelty towards animals by consuming eggs, milk and cheese, and in 2009, I became vegan,” said Phillips.
She started the vegan and craft market in May 2018 in Botha’s Hill before opening one in Durban North every second week, as well.
“There were no markets or places catering to vegans, and it was hard to find fully vegan items in stores. We wanted a safe space to shop where we could eat to our heart’s content without having to ask about ingredients as they would’ve already been vetted,” she said.
“The 30 stallholders grew to 90 at the Durban North market site before Covid-19 with about 1,500 visitors coming through. We had a variety of different food, vegan-kitchen food staples, clothing, beauty, dog coats, books, toys, crafts, charity stalls and more. As long as the items sold had no animal products in them and were not tested on animals, they were welcomed,” she said.
Speaking on the closure, she thanked everyone for the support over the four years and hopes that they continue to visit the Hillcrest Country Vegan Food & Craft Market in Roseway at Waldorf School on the last Sunday of each month.