“We want to show what veganism is but in an informal and festive setting,” says Élise Desaulniers of the Montreal Vegan Festival, taking place on November 7.
Élise, author of Cash Cow: Ten Myths about the Dairy Industry, is one of the co-founders of the festival. There are similar events in other big cities around the world: The Toronto vegan fest has been active for nearly 20 years. With culinary demonstrations, lectures and exhibitors, the free event highlights different aspects of a vegan lifestyle. “It’s an educational and ludic activity, pleasant for vegans and non-vegans,” says Élise.
Last year, for the first edition of the Montreal Vegan Festival, organizers expected a turnout of 2,000 participants. Over 5,000 people showed up. This year, the event moved to the Bonsecours Market in Old Montreal to welcome more participants and exhibitors.
Vegan Black Metal Chef, well-known on social media for his Youtube videos and his unique combination of black metal music and vegan cuisine, is a highly-expected guest. He will prepare a bean burger during his cooking demo. (4:30 to 5:15 p.m.)
The conferences have been shortened. Instead of lasting 45 minutes, they will now last 20 minutes to give participants the chance to attend more activities throughout the day and to include a greater variety of guests.
Taste yummy vegan food, discover eco-friendly artisanal products and learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet by checking-out the stands of exhibitors such as Alltrueist, Chef Veganessa, Copper Branch, Crudessence, Dose, Gardein, Just Eat, Librarie Zone Libre, Lola Rosa, Mouton Vert, Nutri-Mania, Prana, Rawesome, SPCA, Végane Montréal, Versus Magazine and more.
“We try to cover [a wide range of topics] through culinary demos, lectures and exhibitors. We try not to have the same guest speakers [as previous editions], unless they are very popular. “
Élise says she is looking forward to the two following lectures:
- Wanqing Zhou, Research Associate of Food and Agriculture Program at the Worldwatch Institute, will discuss the vegan movement in China and present the film “What’s For Dinner?”. “The movement is emerging and bubbling and it’s important to see veganism is not only an occidental thing but happens around the world,” says Élise about the importance of creating links with other countries. (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.)
- Pattrice Jones, ecofeminist scholar and author, co-founder of Vine Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-led refuge for farmed animals in Vermont. She will talk about what she learned from animals and make links between sexually abused victims and animals. (1:45 to 2:30 p.m.)
Other interesting panels include:
- A beauty panel about vegan beauty products hosted by Marie-Noël Gingras(co-founder of the blogs Vert et fruité and Portraits de végane,) Clarence Tout Court (a vegan tattoo artist), Yen Wong (owner of Salong Vong, the first entirely-vegan cosmetic salon) and Julie Sigouin (a manager at LUSH who specializes in vegetarian, vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics). (10:30 to 11:15 a.m.)
- An environment panel about the effects of meat on the environment hosted by the philosophy expert Dr. Martin Gilbert. (2:45 to 3:05 p.m.)
- A panel on the problems caused by having horse carriages in the city featuring Dr. Jean-Jacques Kona-Boon and Alanna Devine, director of Animal Advocacy of the Montreal branch of the SPCA. (8:35 to 9:30 p.m.)
“Don’t come with pre-conceived ideas, just let yourself go,” says Élise. She encourages people to come on an empty stomach: There will be lots of goodies to taste. Parents might be interested by the panel on vegan food for young children.
The festival is entirely organized by a team of volunteers.
The Montreal Vegan Festival is free. There is only a cost to attend the after-party, where you can mingle with guests and participants.
After-party is at 9 pm in Salle de la Commune niveau 1. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Exhibitors’ stands are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: 350 Saint-Paul East St.
Rooms: Salle de la Commune, Level 1 – Salle Ville-Marie, Level 3 – Salon Aux Vivres, Salle Vieux Montréal, Level 3