Everyone Needs a Vegan Mentality

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Photos by Victoria Brown and Courtesy of Veg Fest

Veg Fest made me re-think my lifestyle choices, and it wasn’t all because of food. The many food vendors proved that it’s possible for vegan food to taste better than dairy or meat products. The vendors there also made me re-think the brands and stores I support by purchasing their products. However, what really made me re-think my lifestyle was the amazing people I met and their stories behind their products.

I was under the impression that all vegan food was bland. Veg Fest proved me wrong, I was blown away by the flavours of vegan cheeses, sauces, soup, and baked goods that Veg Fest introduced to my taste buds. Never did I think that vegan food could taste as good and even better than my usual food choices.

Andy Tout his wife Charline Beaulieu and son Jaden of All About the Soup, started out in their kitchen and now make hundreds of vegan soups per day out of their industrial kitchen in Carleton Place.

At Veg Fest they gave out samples of what they refer to as their “OMG soup,” which is the West Andes Quinoa and Kale soup made with sweet potatoes, ginger, and coconut milk. Most people who sampled this soup, including myself had that exact reaction.

My next favourite food vendor is NONA vegan foods. NONA is a cashew based sauce that comes in three flavours; Alfredo, cheesy, and carbanara.

The very beginnings of NONA started with Kailey Gilchrist as a young girl cooking with her mother who was also vegan.  Gilchrist and her mother added a vegan twist to all of her Nonna’s sauce recipes. After Gilchrist’s mother’s passing in 2011 she wanted a memory of her mother that was tangible, and in 2013 in honor of her mother and her passion for cooking she shared her sauces with Ontario.

Veg Fest wasn’t all about vegan food, there were also unique wearables.

Reusable pads may gross people out but Melissa Sauve of Don’t Ovaryact has convinced people to make the switch. 

Tired of the adult diaper rash that pads give women and the chemicals in tampons Sauve started sewing cotton pads in August with fabrics which make periods more bearable.

Adorit was another vendor which was also drawing people in with their Tibet inspired patterns.

The boutique is located on York Street but started off as a stand in the Byward Market. Adorit has economically support Tibet, Nepal and India by providing jobs for locals to create Adorit’s clothing.

Veg Fest introduced alternative food and clothing options for society dwellers, but also created a unique experience for consumers to get to know the people behind the products they are buying.

These passionate vendors and their stories make you want to jump on board for what they stand for and join in on their journey as they make and sell their products.

After meeting Francis Bueckert of Cloud Forest coffee and his friends who joined him on his journey, I to want to be a part of his team as he supports a remote region in Ecuador by selling their coffee beans.

Francis Bueckert and his organic coffee beans started in 2014 during his studies in Intag, Ecuador – a cloud forest region, which is an eco-system that draws moisture from the clouds.

The farmers within Intag refuse to let mining industries disturb their way of life, and instead they grow coffee beans to support themselves. 

Through Cloud Forest Coffee, Bueckert spreads awareness of Intag’s struggle to fight mining industries and support the community by providing jobs for the farmers.  However, this fight is ongoing as two mining industries are rumored to claim their land in September.

Meghan Wayne is one of his friends that wanted to be a part of his cause. She met him through a friend and always admired his travels to Ecuador. Being a coffee lover since a young girl and an environmentalist she wanted to get involved herself.

Soon enough she had her own opportunity to see this untouched valley that Bueckert always disappeared too.

I found myself going back to talk to Bueckert and Wayne to hear more about their stories of the farmers in Intag.

Before Veg Fest I was never opened to trying vegan food and I never thought about the people who were making my clothes and food. I certainty didn’t think there are chemicals in my tampons, and I didn’t think about where my money was going after I handed it over to the cashier.

Those like myself who aren’t vegan or vegetarian who went to Veg Fest will walk feeling inspired to make the transition but won’t.

However, I think it’s more important to walk away with a vegan mentality.

People with vegan mentalities are compassionate consumers that question what is in their products, where it comes from, who makes it, and who their money is supporting.

I rather know my money is going to a family run business who sell nutritious soup.  A girl who was inspired by her mother, or a girl who sews reusable pads after work. I rather my money help create jobs for people who need them, or help farmers fight for their way of life.

It is crucial that we start supporting our locals who give us products that are good for us, the environment, and for communities globally. We need their products to grow like Adorit has grown from their stand to a store because these people care about us and the world. Otherwise, we will see more products that harm us from corporations who only care about getting richer.