More than 30 local vendors offering Toronto’s best all-natural products took part in Ryerson’s first Winter VegFest.
Hosted by Ryerson VEG – the vegetarian education group on campus – VegFest was held to “inspire” people to “flirt with trying a vegan style,” according to a press release. The Snack Stop at POD 252 turned into a food haven on March 12 for those on kosher, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, dairy-free, diabetic-friendly, or non-animal-based diets.
“There has been a large shift in global consciousness and people are becoming more aware that veganism is not only good for the animals, but also for your health and planet, too,” said festival organizer Oren Epstein. “(The Winter VegFest) just shows students that veganism is easy, accessible and affordable.”
The event’s sponsors, including LUSH cosmetics and Love Wild Live Free, had everything from free samples of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, natural Sriracha-ketchup-flavoured chips, to natural and organic cosmetics. Participants started queueing as early as an hour prior to the start of the festival.
Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Dana Dhalieh was one out of the many vegan attendees. “It’s a good way to learn about other vegan choices in the city,” she said. “People think there’s not a lot of (options), but you just have to look for it.”
Toronto is known for its alternative dietary options. Earlier this year, a vegan pub called Porter House opened its doors in Little Portugal. The menu is entirely meat-free, using shredded jackfruit and similar ingredients instead. Restaurants like Fresh, Lola’s Kitchen and Live Organic Food Bar are constantly packed with vegans and regular patrons who enjoy eating healthy and vegan.
In fact, veganism by choice has been gaining momentum. Celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé have gone vegan at one point.
Prior to trying the vegan diet, Beyoncé wrote, “I knew I could never eat that way,” but she later on claimed to enjoy it and even launched a plant-based diet program with her trainer.
Epstein said the 3, 000 people who came to the event proved it to be a successful debut. “I was able to really educate a lot of students about vegan alternatives to animal byproducts that are cruelty free,” he said. “I think everyone who came out to the event had a great time.”