This year’s Montreal Vegan Festival was back and better than ever. Boasting over 160 kiosks, over a dozen conferences and cooking demonstrations, and close to a dozen workshops, the Montreal Vegan Festival showcases the different aspects of a vegan/plant-based lifestyle.
During its first year, in 2014, the Montreal Vegan festival saw a mere 5,000 attendees at the Université du Québec à Montréal Coeur des sciences. The following two years, the festival was held at the Bonsecours Market, seeing 15,000 attendees in 2016. Now in its sixth year, the 2019 rendition of the festival was expected to accumulate nearly 20,000 attendees at the Palais des Congrès over the Sept. 21-22 weekend.
Many of the kiosks showcased food items such as ready-to-eat products you could purchase there. There were cooking ingredients from brands like Redpath, plant-based drinks, cheeses and meat alternatives — but there was so much more. There were kiosks showcasing food supplements, clothing, reusable and sustainable alternatives for everyday items, makeup, and even kitchen supplies geared towards making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.
With all these different aspects, there was a variety of people in attendance, including families with young children and babies. Also in attendance was Christopher the Pig, famous on Instagram — he has more than 82,000 followers and his profile describes him as a “public figure” — for being a rescued miniature pig (who actually isn’t so small). Christopher is featured on merch of Vgan Styles, a clothing brand that had their own kiosk at the festival.
If you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to organize a festival of this size, Jonathan Levac-Chaloux says people were working on it since before he was elected president of the administration council at the general assembly in April. One of the reasons it took so long, Levac-Chaloux explained, is that they were trying to find more zero-waste serving options for the festival.
“It was better this year compared to last year, we definitely took a step forward; it wasn’t the full distance we hoped to achieve, but we’re going in the right direction,” said Levac-Chaloux.
Vegan since Sept. 1, 2014, Levac-Chaloux is familiar with the festival, having attended it in previous years. He has seen the evolution and the growth of the festival as well as the vegan movement in Montreal.
“This year, being on the organization team, I see the extent of the progress and the extent to which people know we’re a big festival in Montreal,” said Levac-Chaloux. “The fact that we have more exhibitors helps with having more of a variety of services available at the festival,” he added about the different kiosks at the festival.
He explained that at the beginning there was a focus on food. But now there is a shift in what was showcased, as already explained — some of it still related to food.
“Me, being a vegan, I know that being vegan is more than just about food,” said Levac-Chaloux. “It’s a lifestyle.”
Photos by Cecilia Piga, Video by Calvin Cashen