The 29th Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair – my thoughts
I love the time of year when it’s Toronto Veg Fair time! Not only does it mean that it’s September, therefore almost my birthday, but also it’s a chance to get together with a bunch of likeminded (or “interested in the whole thing”-minded) folks to celebrate compassion and tasty things. I’ve been going since before I even moved to Toronto, and I hope to keep it up if I ever move away.
This year I didn’t have a chance to go on Friday, the rain was a bit of a hiccup for Saturday, and I missed a bit of later afternoon/evening stuff due to other plans, so it was all a bit poorly planned on my behalf. On top of that, I unfortunately found the program/events listing really terrible to navigate and it actually put me off from getting to more talks/demos.
When Adam showed up after work on Saturday, I’d just run into some of my lovely vegan knitting friends, and we all piled in to hear Erin Red speak about “That Kind of Vegan: Finding Balance in Activism” – which, to quote the listing, examined “many of the common roadblocks that prevent vegans from becoming effective and joyful activist” and helped those attending to learn “how to better cope with living in a non-vegan world and become a force of nature for the animals and the earth.” It was a very engaging talk, and a good reminder that I didn’t ever go vegan for anyone else except the animals whose welfare I care about, and I should never have to justify that to people who think I went vegan to be antagonistic, to be a thorn in their side, or to make them feel guilty for even just existing. There was some great discussion after her talk in the Q&A section, and after hearing about how to be positive and remain happy & not angry or intimidated as a vegan in a non-vegan world, Adam made a great comment. It was about he had a couple of great role models who never pressured him in his pre-vegan days but just made good examples of themselves so when it came time for him to make the leap, they had already shown him how easy it was and were a great support. I always aim to live this way as a good example of what veganism can do for yourself and the world around you and I’ve had friends expressly say to me that it’s been a great thing to have in their lives. So, I only got to see one talk but it was a great one, and affirming to boot! (Will have to check out Red Radio, her podcast, now.)
Much of the rest of my visiting to the fair was wandering about the marketplace, inside and out. I had a fairly limited budget, so I was able to splurge on food stalls and some special treats for Jake but didn’t get any booty like books/t-shirts/totes/accessories etc like in previous years. I had plenty of nibbles on samples and grabbed some coupons as I went, and hit up a great deal of delicious stalls for wonderful food (although not as many as I’d have liked after all!). Here’s some of the wonderful array of vegan food I was able to sample on Saturday & Sunday – click the thumbnails to see bigger versions on Flickr, or browse the whole set with even more pics.
On Sunday I took Jake with me, which limited me to outdoor-only stuff (I wish I’d thought to visit the Westjet stage for some of the talks there!) – but it was lovely to bring him with me, this wonderful little guy who means so much to me as an animal-lover. He got a lotta love from friends and strangers, and many delicious handmade cruelty-free treats from the Brothers Boston, as well as a dapper bow-tie! It was good to have him out for the afternoon.
I wish I’d had the time to spend just the whole weekend hanging out at the fair – although I saw/tasted a lot of things, I missed opportunities to hang out with friends and see a lot more of the programming, and engage with the lovely volunteer crowd. I was also disappointed that despite changes to exhibitor policy, there were still some businesses selling non-vegan products – I really want that to be enforced properly to not worry about what I can and can’t buy/eat. So next year I’m gonna plan BIG. Go with a posse. And save up for all the goodies and treats I can fit on/in my person. I’m coming for you, 30th Annual Food Fair!!