Travelling (Almost) Waste Free at the Gluten Free Fest in Preston

What I love about The Food Truck Park in Preston is its themed food weekends. Food trucks and mobile food vendors travel across Melbourne to park their vehicles so travellers can feast away in confidence. The Food Truck Park’s Vegetarian and Vegan weekends are incredible, in the sense that local favourites and new makers on the block sell their culinary creations for those needing vegetarian and vegan options.

Earlier this month, the Preston Food Truck Park decided to host a Gluten Free Fest over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Gluten-intolerant and/or coeliac Melburnians could travel here and feast on favourite food truck foods without worrying about becoming sick. Another bonus of the Gluten Free Fest was that vegan vendors, and vendors with vegan options, featured on the day.  Savoury and sweet options were available for those wanting a bit – or a lot – of both.

When I travel for an eating trip to a food truck park or market now, I’m starting to cringe at the amount of single-use rubbish that ultimately accumulates. Thankfully, vegan food vendor Woking Amazing decided to take an initiative. They invited travellers to bring their own containers and cutlery to the Gluten Free Fest. It was a brilliant way to reduce my waste without compromising on serving size and taste.

When Woking Amazing is around, tasty and inventive 100% vegan, Asian-style street food is always prepared, though the gluten-free options are a little slim.  At the Gluten Free Fest, I wanted to try all their options – all gluten-free – and it was easy for the coeliac in me to do so when I packed multiple containers in different sizes into my bag.

Just the simple joy of eating amazing meal choices without caution made my day – pulled ‘porkies’ pulled mushroom roll with crunchy slaw, a side order of smoky, zesty chunky chips, and crispy sweet ‘honee’ soy ‘chickn’ chicken-style morsels topped in spring onions and sesame seeds aside fluffy steamed rice. Even a sample of their mock fried ‘calamari’ dusted in zingy spices and dipped in a vegan mayo dressing, all with a wedged of lime squeezed throughout was enjoyed. At the same time, I was grateful for Woking Amazing to take the plunge and allow customers to use their own containers.

To put it into perspective, this small initiative saved me from using four single-use containers, biodegradable cutlery and serviettes. Woking Amazing use biodegradable packaging, yet to eliminate this waste in one day was ethically empowering for both vendor and customer. Imagine the power of all of us who attended the Gluten Free Fest if we were all invited to bring our own containers? It’s a rhetorical question, especially when I re-assessed the impact when it was time to purchase sweet treats.

From the gnocchi doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar from The Gluten Free Gnocchi Bar to the scrumptious vegan chocolate crackles and chocolate cupcake drizzled in toffee syrup from Sweet Forbidden Journey. Using BYO containers at those moments wasn’t an option. Some vendors are reluctant to do so, as they can’t control potential cross-contamination or it might be tricky at busy times for example.

Sure, they’re valid reasons. But there comes a time when travellers need to assess their impacts and start to minimise said impact they are exerting onto the world. Give travellers the option to BYO, create a conscious action in which travellers can minimise their impact, give customers the choice and our world will become a cleaner place through which to travel. Small scale events such as the Gluten Free Fest are the ultimate starting points. Start with small steps, to create a healthier habit that barracks for a better world. Ground level is where such change can thrive.

So, I ask you – have you been given the opportunity to bring your own containers to a festival so you can eliminate your waste? What are some of the barriers have you faced when you decided to BYO anyway? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

The Food Truck Park in Preston runs themed weekends as special events throughout the year. Entry is free and food/drink prices are as marked by each vendor.
518 High Street, Preston Victoria, Australia 3072.

Justine de Jonge at Fire & Tea paid for all food items herself and attended the Monday of the Gluten Free Fest long weekend in June with her own containers, cutlery and napkins.

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