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Life lessons | Social Issues | Stewards of our planet | Vegan food | Vegan Recipes

Calgary 2nd Annual VegFest

June 16, 2018

I was going to blog about suicide this week, and probably should have, but then VegFest was happening. No, festivals are not more important than lives, but this particular festival saves many lives. The focus is on changing the world by putting a stop to animal abuse, whether in the form of factory farm cruelty, which, unless you are determined to stick your head in the sand, is well documented in the multitude of documentaries out there, or the use of animals in entertainment, or puppy mills, or shipping live horses to Japan for slaughter, or by rescuing stray and unwanted animals. The vendors offer us alternatives to eating the standard meat and potatoes, and, believe me, vegan food has come a very long way. Not only are you taking a stand against factory farming, which is where we get the majority of all meat, poultry and dairy products, but you are doing your body a favour by not contaminating it with hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals to produce more meat and combat diseases. This isn’t a case of some bleeding heart liberal trying to persuade you to give up meat solely for the sake of the lives of the animals, though this is definitely motivation. This is the way the world is heading and I’m inviting you to join in the movement to save ourselves.

Henry, one of the lucky ones, deaf but not defeated. Isn’t he beautiful?
Calgary 2nd Annual VegFest

We scoff at other cultures for eating dogs and cats, but honestly, what is the difference? Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys are animals, too. And they are sentient beings. As Sir Paul McCartney expressed so well, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” It is true. If you actually saw how your steak came to be on your plate, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to eat it. Gandhi said,  “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” Chew on that for a while and take a look around you.

Cruelty free apparel
Holy Kraut!

This event brings together vendors from all over the city and sometimes from across the country as cruelty-free food, clothing and other products are promoted and sold, while speakers take turns on the stage, educating those strolling through the grounds. My daughter, Rebekah, and I headed to the “Hearts Choices” food truck as soon as we arrived. I purposely skipped breakfast so that I could indulge in some good old-fashioned street food. Last year, that particular vendor had an hour to two-hour wait in line, so I wanted to get there before the crowds. It was well worth it! The jackfruit poutine was a gastronomical celebration. My taste buds were swooning. Years ago, I discovered “Hearts Choices” at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. Since then, they have branched out with two cafés and a food truck while maintaining their spot at the Calgary Farmer’s Market and adding a new market location. Nan, the owner, is an amazingly down to earth lady, always ready to help. She is such an incredibly hard worker, I’m tickled she has had so much well-deserved success with her business.

Hearts Choices Jackfruit Poutine
Hearts Choices Food Truck

Another success story is the lady who had a spot next to me at the market I worked at in 2015 when I began “Quinntessentially Vegan”. She just had a few products for sale, as did I, but quickly earned her reputation for quality raw food. Laura now has her products in many retail outlets around Alberta, including Community Natural Foods and Blush Lane in Calgary. The name of her business is “Little Tucker” and she makes outstanding snickers bars, besides an array of bites, tarts and cheesecakes, all raw, plant-based, gluten, dairy and refined sugar free.

Photo credit: Little Tucker

Last year’s event, the first one ever in Calgary, was a resounding success, with food vendors selling out half way through the afternoon. This year, despite heavy rain throughout the afternoon, vendors did a remarkable business.

Calgary 2nd Annual VegFest with ominous clouds overhead
Basic Roots Cashew Cheeze samplings

Whether you like it or not, plant-based diets are becoming more popular as we continue to learn about animal cruelty in factory farms. But that is not the only issue here. As we decimate the wild animal populations of the world we are discovering the fall-out is hurting us as well. We need to treasure this earth we have been given stewardship of. It is resilient, but only to a point. If we continue to pollute with plastics and toxic waste and greenhouse gases, it isn’t just the environment we are killing, it is ourselves. The livestock sector produces more CO2 emissions than the transport sector. We destroy the oceans, which produce approximately 70% of the atmosphere’s oxygen. The list goes on…..

Plastic Free YYC

I was particularly happy to see a booth representing a plastic-free Calgary. I have long wanted to begin a campaign myself to do away with those plastic grocery bags. Our parents and grandparents did without them. No wonder they roll their eyes when we talk about the environment. Most of our problems either didn’t exist in their day or the footprint was negligible. Those folks were from the depression/war era.

Hippie Snacks vendor

While we can’t change everything in our personal lives, we can all do something. No matter how small our effort is, it is still something. Instead of being part of the problem, let’s be a part of the solution.

Meeting of the minds!
Some of my purchases from Wild Tea, SpiraVeg, Entrees Etc. and Baked from the Heart

My youngest daughter, Hannah, and I watched the movie “Okja” when she came for a sleepover last week. I had no idea what to expect, but if you are looking for a gentler introduction into factory farming, instead of the painful documentaries available, for perhaps your children, I do highly recommend this. There are many documentaries available on this issue, along with other animal rights concerns. Here are links to a few:


Here are a few links to some other animal rights problems such as shark-finning and animals used for entertainment:


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  1. I agree with Gandhi but I don’t think he was talking about India; have you seen the way the lower castes are treated?
    The information about the commercial animal industry causing more harm to the environment than the transportation industry seems hard to believe. Have you read that fact in more than one place? I’ve never heard that before.

    1. I’m not sure which country Gandhi was referring to, but it is a known fact that people who abuse animals often become abusers of people. And I believe Gandhi did not agree with the way the so-called “untouchables” were treated. What a tragedy to treat people so.
      There is information from various sources pertaining to animal agriculture and the environment. Many environmental groups are aware of the facts. Here are a few links for you:

      https://www.exposingtruth.com/15-insanely-important-facts-about-animal-agriculture/

      https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/fast-facts-about-animal-agriculture-help-you-get-informed/

      http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/facts-about-animal-agriculture-and-air-pollution/

      http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

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