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Vegan Vox: Veganuary in the live events industry

Leading the charge for vegan innovation at the NEC Group are the Vox Conference Venue’s General Manager Mark Charlampowicz and Executive Chef Aaron Johnson-Waters.

As more people embrace plant-based diets for Veganuary, Mark and Aaron have given their thoughts on the benefits of integrating vegan food into menus at events, highlighting what event-goers can expect from their food in 2024.

Mark said: “We’re passionate about vegan food – for us, it’s not a distraction, it’s an enhancement. Our first step is to consider the seasonality of the food, before letting our culinary team go to work.

“We want our guests to leave feeling valued and a large part of that is feeling satisfied with well thought out food options which give them energy to engage with the content of their event.”

Aaron agrees, adding: “Providing vegan options caters for diverse dietary preferences and requirements, ensuring everyone can find something suitable to eat.

“I try to focus on fresh ingredients including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh and seitan, while incorporating seasonal produce for the best possible taste and smallest impact on the environment.”

Aaron Johnson-Waters, Executive Chef at the Vox

As part of the NEC Group, the Vox had its dishes accredited by the Vegetarian Society in November 2022. The accreditation provides full traceability of ingredients with the additional use of the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark – and it’s something Mark and his team are keen to build on.

“40% of the food we serve at the Vox is plant-based, which we’re proud of and we’re always trying to increase that number,” said Mark.

“Our guests love that we embrace veganism, even to the point where some of our clients who are not vegan will choose our vegan dishes because of their taste and vibrancy.”

Aaron continued: “We’re always looking to educate new clients on the benefits of vegan and how we’ve created diverse menus for events in the past. Event sustainability and health consciousness has contributed to this change too, with clients eager to keep their guests engaged, promote healthier lifestyles and reduce the environmental impact of their event.”

As for vegan food in 2024 and beyond? Mark and Aaron say trends in vegan spheres are ever evolving.

A vegan delight from the Vox: Roast Celeriac Steak, Sweet Potato & Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Pie, Confit Butternut Squash Puree, Slow Cooked Potatoes, Baby Chantay Carrot, Sweet Garlic & Thyme Jus

Aaron said: “The future of vegan food is bright. There have been recent advancements in plant-based alternatives like lab-grown meats and innovative plant-based seafood which is exciting and something we’re monitoring.

“In terms of the Vox, I’ve just finished writing our new menu pack for 2024. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of locally sourced vegan food and we have a great array of dishes in the pipeline for clients this year.”


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