We’ve come a long way, baby.
Exactly six years ago today (May 31, 2009), the first Ottawa Veg Fest was held at the Glebe Community Centre. I was there; I was one of its co-founders. Corrie and I wanted to have a vegan festival like we’d attended in Toronto, to showcase all the great vegan products and services that we loved, and weren’t going to sit back and expect someone else to step up.
So through sheer grit and determination, Ottawa got its Veg Fest. We had no idea how many people would come – a few hundred, we thought hopefully? – and were stunned as more than 2,000 people poured through the doors. Not bad for a promotional budget of $0. It was an early lesson for me of the power of social media.
This coming weekend, June 6-7, will mark the 6th Ottawa Veg Fest. It’s now a two day event held at the RA Centre, and has nearly three times the number of exhibitors as the inaugural event. I am no longer an organizer, but I am so proud to see how big it has become. The best part is that many of those people are not vegan or vegetarian, but have come out because they want to learn more about kinder, healthier alternatives! All the info you need is here: www.vegfest.ca
Here are six great reasons to attend Ottawa Veg Fest 2015:
1. The Speakers
NCVA volunteers have lined up a fantastic roster of speakers, speaking on a range of topics. From internationally renowned cookbook authour Dreena Burton, to world traveler Kristin Lajeunesse, to pig father Steve Jenkins, to Ottawa vegan athlete Kyle den Bak, there’s great information at your fingertips from the experts.
2. The Cooking Demonstrators
The cooking demonstrators showcase a great variety of culinary talent; from Ethiopian to raw foods to gluten-free baking and beyond. And you really don’t want to miss the demo by Auntie Loo, where she’ll reveal her top secret scone technique!
For a full listing of speaker/demo times visit www.vegfest.ca).
3. Learn Not Just Why, but HOW
Veg Fest is basically like vegan immersion, or a vegan starter kit. Many people want to reduce or eliminate the animal products that they’re consuming, but are hung up on figuring out HOW. If you don’t know how, you surely won’t succeed, and there’s all kinds of pseudoscience and complicating misinformation floating around, especially on the internet. There are the speakers, cooking demos and food, but also the 31 Day Vegan Challenge led by registered dietitian Susan Macfarlane. Stop by the PlantKind booth to chat with medical and educational professionals with more than 30 years of combined vegan experience. Also learn about household products, cosmetics, cleaning products and more that are cruelty-free and vegan. It’s all at Veg Fest!
4. Source Allergy-Friendly and Ethical Products
Not only can you find vegan alternatives, but Veg Fest also tends to attract businesses that make products for all kinds of allergies and sensitivities. Overall, there’s a much stronger awareness and sensitivity amongst product manufacturers that serve the vegan community. At Veg Fest you’ll find gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free options, and more. Also, there are products that you can truly feel good about purchasing, such as fairtrade clothing from Adorit and coffee from the Barking Barista, which helps dogs in need.
5. Show Ottawa that Vegans are a Consumer Group Worth Serving
If as vegans we don’t even support our own vegan events, we can’t expect other businesses to provide vegan options for us. So if you’re vegan, come to Veg Fest to show some love to the businesses that serve you and make your life easier and more delicious, and if you’re not vegan, come and see what all the fuss is about! Some of the alternatives will surely blow your mind, AND you’re supporting great people who are trying to make our plates a little bit kinder. Which leads me to…
6. The FOOD!
Oh right. The food!! If you come to Veg Fest hungry I can guarantee you won’t leave that way. Restaurants that will be serving food include The Table, Asian Stars, SimplyRaw Express, La Belle Verte, and The Tea Party, but some of the real fun starts with the speciality food vendors. From Magic Vegan Bacon Grease, to maple floss, to Zengarry Cashew Cheese, to Garlic Garden Hummus, to Oat&Mill oat-based ice cream, this is the place to find innovative plant-based alternatives. It’s a far cry from the boring options I had as a new vegan more than a decade ago, so take advantage!
What’s your reason for coming to Veg Fest?