Poli SAVVY: Environmentalist Steven Guilbeault slipped away from the Ministry of Environment

Last week, Justin Trudeau named his new cabinet, which includes 36 MPs. Most of them are coming back for a second mandate, but there are new surprising faces at the table.

One of these new nominations, which created a political bombshell, was elected here in Montreal. His nomination might not be a surprise, but the department he was given probably was. The newly-elected MP of Laurier Ste-Marie, Steven Guilbeault, was sworn-in as Minister of Canadian Heritage, when he was expected to be handed the Environment department.

The reason why many were seeing him as the Environment Minister is that well-known, long-time activist Guilbault is the founder of Equiterre, and has been fighting for the environment for the last 25 years.

Trudeau’s decision led many, such as former Mayor of the Plateau Mont-Royal Luc Ferrandez, to claim Guilbeault’s popularity was used to win the election.

“We did not elect him to have this role. Trudeau even said we need to vote for Guilbeault if we believe in the environment’s protection. I was asked 10 times to fight Guilbeault in the Plateau, but I said no I will let him try, he wants to change things from the inside…I was really disappointed when I heard his new role,” said Luc Ferrandez, on 98.5 FM. 

But was he used?

Last week, in an interview with Radio-Canada, Guilbeault said there was no promise made to him and he is happy about his new role.

Guilbeault also said that many people in his surrounding thought it was good for him to learn the role of being a politician, before jumping into the Environment Ministry.

Yet, in an interview with Le Devoir, Karel Mayrand from the David Suzuki Foundation said that Guilbeault was not named as the Environment Minister because he is an environmentalist, claiming it was a political move by Trudeau in order to please the people in the Western provinces.

It is fair to say that his nomination to another department other than Environment was a political decision. Even if Guilbeault has more expertise and knowledge pertinent to the Environment, putting him in the department ended up not being the first choice for the Liberal Party of Canada.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Climate protest comes to Montreal

Thousands expected at March 15 demo against climate change

Concordia students will join thousands of others across the world in the March 15 global protest against climate change.

La Planète s’invite à l’Université, a collective of students in Quebec, are organizing demonstrations across the province, including in Montreal. Jamie Latvaitis, Concordia political science student and member of the group, said the goal is to put pressure on the government to pass legislation to fight climate change.

Many other protests will be happening the same day all around the world. Many groups led by students began these strikes in response to the call of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who said it was time for governments to take action against climate change.

The teenager highlighted the importance of such legislation during last year’s COP24 climate conference in Poland, according to CNN. The conferences are held every year by the UN in an effort to find climate change solutions. Thunberg plans to strike before Sweden’s parliament until they respect the Paris agreement. This agreement, signed by all UN members, seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degree celsius.

By banding together, students involved in the movement hope their message will be heard by their governments. They believe that they have more power and visibility speaking from one united voice.

Latvaitis said La Planète wants the government to establish an educational program in partnership with young citizens that teaches ecology and informs them about climate change.

The group wants climate laws that meet the objectives recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC recommends a CO2 global net reduction of about 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels by 2030 and reduction of methane of 50 per cent by 2050.

La planète s’invite à L’Université wants academic institutions to show greater transparency concerning their investments in fossil fuels, and keep a carbon report in order to target the most important greenhouse gas producers and reduce them.

About 48,500 students across Quebec will be on strike on March 15. La Planète s’invite à L‘Université will take to the streets of Montreal and spread their message that now is the time for the government to take action.

“We feel a powerful wave of change wanting to take over,” said Latvaitis. “New values, new interests, and new ways to see the world. The fight for climate action is a fight for all of these things.”

Following the same wave as La Planète s’invite au Parlement, a collective created by Dominic Champagne, artistic director for the Cirque du Soleil, decided to draft a “Pacte pour la transition.” This is a contract that citizens can sign as proof of their efforts to change their daily habits to protect the environment.

Champagne and fellow artists gathered more than 50,000 people to protest in Montreal in November, as well as thousands across Quebec.

La Planète s’invite à l’Université plans to hold a conference where experts will talk about climate change and inform people on what can be done and what is already done in the rest of the world.

Latvaitis said the creation of a climate policy could be done as part of a collaboration between faculties, such as biology and political science, at schools across Quebec. That new policy would also be inspired by the IPCC, whose main role is to assess the state of knowledge of climate change, according to its website. The IPCC also publishes studies to showcase the impacts of climate change as well as solutions that include a reduction of poverty.

Latvaitis said that a temperature change of just 0.5 degrees can have a major impact. “The IPCC, the highest authority of opinion on climate change, are aiming for a 1.5 degrees increase instead of 2 degrees. They explained that the difference of just 0.5 degrees would save hundreds of species,” according to an IPCC study.

The Concordia Student Union is supporting Concordia’s division of La Planète s’invite à L’Université, according to Latvaitis. The organizers are expecting about 400 Concordia students to take part in the protest and join thousands of other Montreal students.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin.


Men’s basketball team heads to second-straight final

79-71 win against Bishop’s Gaiters a result of team effort

The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team advanced to the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final for a second year in a row. They beat the Bishop’s Gaiters 79-71 in the semi-final on Wednesday night at the Concordia Gym.

The Stingers will now host the RSEQ final after playing it at McGill last year. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

“So many guys stepped up; it’s a great win. I am really proud of the guys,” said head coach Rastko Popovic. “It’s all about team culture. Guys understand that they need to work hard; they want to listen. We pushed them to be the best.”

The Stingers had the lead for most of the game, except at the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Gaiters pushed back for a four-point lead.

That did not last long because the Stingers were hot from three-point range, finishing 11 three-point shots in the game. One of those was a highlight-reel from centre-court by Adrian Armstrong, who finished the game with 22 points.

After last year’s defeat in the final against McGill, the Stingers know what they must do to win the title. “Guys were not celebrating in the locker room. They know that it’s not our goal,” Popovic said. “That’s what I like about our guys”.

Adrian Armstrong made six of his 14 shots from three-point range. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

The Stingers now host the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins, who beat McGill in the first semi-final, Saturday night at 7 p.m..

“We know that they are going to come hard; they have nothing to lose, it’s in our home court,” the head coach added. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Armstrong was happy about his performance but he is focusing on the next game. “It’s day-to-day. Now we focus on UQAM,” Armstrong said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game.”

In four games against the Citadins this season, the Stingers went 2-2, winning both games at home.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers end Martlets title run in semi-final win

Concordia scores 19 points in final five minutes to move onto to RSEQ final

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team ended the McGill Martlets title run in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-final. They won 62-55 at the Concordia Gym Wednesday night, ending McGill’s seven-year run as champions.

The Stingers missed the playoffs last year with a 4-12 record, and get to play in the final this year. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

After domination in the first quarter that gave the Stingers a 19-9 lead, they saw the Martlets coming back in the second quarter. The score was 30-29 for Concordia at halftime, and the Martlets took the lead in the third quarter. Concordia trailed behind and were losing by eight with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Stingers went on a 19-4 run to close out the game and get the win.

“I thought they showed a lot of character,” said head coach Tenicha Gittens, who was happy with her team’s performance. “When you are down seven points, it’s easy to just get down but we came back […]. You can get tired but you won’t be playing tomorrow. You can be tired next month.”

Gittens added that defence kept them in the game in the second half, allowing only 26 points. “Offensively, [the shots] were not falling,” Gittens said. “Our girls did a good job adjusting during the fourth quarter.

A team filled with rookies, this was the first playoff experience for most of them. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Gittens also saw leadership from guards Caroline Task and forward Coralie Dumont when it mattered. Dumont played 39 of 40 minutes, collecting nine rebounds and scoring eight points. Rookie guard Myriam Leclerc also played 39 minutes, and had the most points in the game with 28.

“We never gave up,” Task said. “We had ups and downs, everybody played their part in the game.”

The Stingers will play the Université de Laval Rouge et Or on Saturday in Quebec City in the RSEQ final. The 15-1 Rouge et Or beat Concordia all four times this season, but only won by two points in their last meeting on Feb. 21.

“They won it last time but we’ll win it when it matters,” Task said about the final. “I am really excited. We played them last week and we fell short by two points and that means nothing. We know what we need to do to win the next game.”

The Stingers return to the final after losing to McGill in 2017. Laval will be looking to avenge their loss at last year’s finals, also against the Martlets.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers split doubleheader at home against McGill

Ricardo Monge scores 22 in the win; Myriam Leclerc drops 26 in a losing effort

The Concordia Stingers basketball teams split a doubleheader against McGill Thursday night at the Concordia gym. It was the first set of a back-to-back series between the rival schools.

Men’s game

The men’s team defeated the McGill Redmen 86-69, as they dominated on all aspects of the game. Despite a slow start during the first five minutes when McGill took an 11-2 lead, Concordia stayed focused and got right back in the game.

From good defence to three-point shots made, the Stingers executed perfectly and that’s what allowed them to succeed. After scoring just 12 points in two games last weekend against Bishop’s, point guard Ricardo Monge came out really strong. He finished the game with 22 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. Head coach Rastko Popovic described his game in one word: fantastic.

“I was trying to come out aggressive,” said Monge about bouncing back from last weekend. “I just took advantage of the miss-match we had.”

“Overall it’s a good win,” Popovic said. “There are still things we need to improve. We’ll have a good practice and be ready for Saturday.”

Popovic acknowledged that McGill was missing their best player and league-leading scorer, Alex Paquin, which affected them. But he added that a hand injury to Concordia veteran Cedrick Coriolan also affected play.

The head coach was satisfied by the play of guards Anthony Sanogo and Oge Nwoko. Sanogo had 12 points in 27 minutes coming off the bench, while Nwoko had eight points in 13 minutes. “I’m really impressed with how those guys stepped up,” Popovic said.

After two-straight games of scoring 18 points, Coralie Dumont had 14 points against McGill. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.
Women’s game

The women’s team lost 63-58 to the Martlets after a tough battle. Concordia didn’t have a strong start to the first half, and were down by 11 points at halftime.

They bounced back in the second half and, even though McGill increased their lead to 16 points, Concordia came back and took the lead midway through the fourth quarter. Despite a game-high 26 points from point guard Myriam Leclerc, the Martlets scored eight-straight points to close off the game and seal the win.

Despite a good finish that almost resulted in a win, head coach Tenisha Gittens was quite unhappy after the game. She said her team did not have a good start. “We couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Gittens said. “To me, it’s not the end of the game [that matters]. We started the game poorly […]; we didn’t do a good job defending.”

Gittens also said her team didn’t work hard enough during the week, which contributed to the loss. “Unfortunately, I knew that this would happen because of the way we practiced,” the head coach said.

She also gave credit to McGill and expected that they would be ready to play their first game of 2019: “They have one of the best coaches in the country,” Gittens said. “I think we had some sparks, but at the end of the day, it was not enough.”

The men improved their record to 7-1, while the women dropped to 6-2 on the year.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers teams continue rolling with doubleheader wins against Bishop’s

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams improve to 5-1

Both Concordia Stingers basketball teams walked away with a win against the Bishop’s Gaiters Thursday night at the Concordia Gym. It was the first ff a back-to-back games between the schools, as they meet again on Sat. Jan. 12 in Sherbrooke.

Women’s game

The Stingers women’s basketball team won 66-53 with a good performance in their first game after the holiday break. The Stingers held a 28-point lead at halftime after having dominated the first half.

The momentum of the game change in the second half as Bishop’s dominated the last portion of the game. Despite giving up points in second half, the Stingers were able to hold on to a comfortable lead and found a way to win.

“I think on the first half we came out with a lot of energy,” said head coach Tenicha Gittens about her team’s performance. “Especially on the defensive end.”

What started off looking like a potential blow-out win turned into a tight game during the second half. The Stingers were slower and gave many turnovers to their opponents, opening the door for a big offensive push by the Gaiters.

“We did not stick to our game plan and we did not take care of the ball offensively so it caused turnovers,” Gittens said. “At the end of the day, you want the W and that’s what we want.”

Both guard Myriam Leclerc and forward Coralie Dumont led the Stingers offensively with 19 and 18 points respectively. Dumont scored 16 of her points in the first half alone.

“The first half was really good and that what we practiced in defence paid off,” Dumont said. “Yes we won, but it’s disappointing to win by that margin when we were up by a lot more. We will look back at the second half and will make sure we are ready for Saturday’s game.”

She continued to say that the Stingers dropped off in the second half because they “had no legs and [Bishop’s] played without fear.”

Good rebound control and ball possession combined with speed made a big difference during the first two quarters, and allowed the Stingers to win the game.

Garry Merisier started for the Stingers and was one of four players to score more than 10 points. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Men’s game

The men’s team also picked up a win following the women’s game, by a score of 78-68. It was a really tight game, as there were 15 lead changes during the game. The Stingers took a seven-point lead during the first quarter, but lifted their foot off the gas at the beginning of the second half. This allowed the Gaiters to came back in the game and take the lead for a little while.

Sami Ghandour’s buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter allowed Concordia to regain some momentum. They readjusted and showcased toughness for the end of the game.

“We played hard, we competed, we had a good start on defence,” said head coach Rastko Popovic, who was happy with his team’s performance. “We did not pay attention on the scouting report details and it made us look bad on defence. You can’t relax at basketball.”

Popovic thought his team bounced back really well at the end of the game. “In the fourth quarter we played really well defensively; we showed some toughness and character and we found a way to win,” the coach added. “It’s never easy to win by a lot. If you relax any team can come back.”

Popovic was happy by the defensive performances from Ricardo Monge and Cedrick Coriolan. “The key was that we made good plays; many of them made a big difference both offensively and defensively,” he said. “There is some plays you don’t see on the score sheet but we know they made a difference.”

During the holiday break, the Stingers played three exhibition games in Florida. Popovic contributed their second-half success to their trip. “The trip allowed us to be prepared for the second half, because it’s tough if you don’t play during the break,” he said.

Forward Olivier Simon, who finished the game with 21 points, said key three-point shots helped the team win. They went 9-for-25 from three-point shooting.

“We need to be more tough mentally and be focused, and that’s what we have been able to do during the last five minutes of the game,” Simon added.

Moving to their game against Bishop’s on Saturday, Popovic is looking forward to how his team responds. “We have to watch video, we have to take care of the basketball better. It’s like a challenge and I am looking forward to that game,” Popovic said.

Simon is also looking forward to it. “I am really confident for Saturday. We will look at video and have a good practice,” he said. “We will showcase that we deserve our ninth spot in Canada.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams improved to a 5-1 record this season.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Basketball teams end semester on a winning note

Stingers sweep the Citadins; both Concordia teams now have a 4-1 record

The Concordia Stingers basketball teams beat the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the Concordia Gym.

Women’s game

Despite a 64-53 victory, the Stingers had a rough first half—something head coach Tenicha Gittens was quick to change at halftime. Her team played with character and pride in the second half to help them to the win.

“We started it off slow in the first half,” Gittens said. “We didn’t follow the game plan defensively and we weren’t competitive on the glass.”

With the game tied at 26, Gittens had a clear message for her team at halftime: to protect home court. “We pride ourselves on defence, and UQAM is a very good team,” she said.

The head coach said her players acknowledged their initial poor performance and adjusted to have a better second half.

“The key was defence,” Gittens said. “We forced turnovers.”

The Stingers were quick on rebounds and made good passes in the second half. They had proper positioning both offensively and defensively. After taking the lead early in the third quarter, the Stingers didn’t let go of the lead for the rest of the game.

Although UQAM—with its 0-5 record—is not a top-ranking team in the standings, Gittens said she was impressed by how the Citadins challenged her team.

Offensively, point guard Myriam Leclerc led the Stingers with a solid performance, scoring 25 points. Her three three-pointers certainly helped the Stingers increase their lead, but Gittens said she was also happy with how the team played defensively.

“When you look at the turnovers and the rebounds, it made a big difference and was a key in today’s win,” she said.

Adrian Armstrong was instrumental in the team’s three-point shooting success. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Men’s game

Speed, preparation and accuracy helped the Stingers in their 83-59 win over the Citadins. Their defence quashed most of UQAM’s scoring opportunities, and the Stingers made the most of their time with the ball, hitting 12/35 three-point attempts.

“I am happy the way we played and the way we competed,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic.

After a disappointing 17-point loss to the Citadins on Nov. 15, the Stingers were ready for redemption. “This was a very, very important game for us,” Popovic said.

The team’s preparation was evident; they dominated from the start, on a high from two consecutive wins last weekend. Stingers guard Cedrick Coriolan said he was pleased with the way his team played.

“They key was our defence; we kept them under 70 points which is usually our goal,” Coriolan said. “We followed the scouting report perfectly, and that allowed us to earn the win.”

Stingers point guard Ricardo Monge dominated offensively, recording the game-high in points with 22, but Popovic said the victory was a full-team effort.

“Everyone who showed up on the court today played well,” Popovic said. “I thought the guys executed the game plan as a team. Everybody is responsible for our success.”

The head coach stressed the importance of this win, which allows the Stingers to head into the winter break in first place. “They are buying in now, and they understand what’s necessary to win,” he said. “You don’t want to lose your last game before the break and think about it for weeks. That is a big win for us.”

Both basketball teams are off for the winter break and will be back on Jan. 10 with a home doubleheader against the Bishop’s University Gaiters.

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.


Stingers dominate in 9-2 win over Nipissing

Concordia heads into break with four-game winning streak

The Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team beat the Nipissing Lakers 9-2 at the Ed Meagher Arena on Dec. 1.  

The Stingers dominated all aspects of the game: they outshot the Lakers 60-20, they got more hits, and they had puck possession for most of the game. Concordia also went 6/12 on the powerplay, and forward Hugo Roy scored their first goal of the game on a five-on-three advantage. Roy led the Stingers with four goals in the game.

Hugo Roy (left) scored four goals in the win. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

After defenceman Carl Neill scored late in the first period, the Stingers opened the second with three consecutive goals, forcing the Lakers to change their goaltender.

Concordia took advantage of its opportunities on the power plays and was able to build a solid lead early in the game. Concordia spent most of the time in the offensive zone forcing the Lakers to take penalties. It seems like the Lakers spent too much energy defending and didn’t have enough to attack at the other end of the ice.

It was a physical game and the Stingers won most of the battles along the boards. They were also faster than the Lakers with a quick transition game to leave their zone and go on the attack. The Stingers’s defencemen also contributed offensively, transitioning the play from zone to zone.

Even though the Stingers dominated most of the game in the offensive zone, they still played well defensively, blocking numerous shots.

The Stingers have now won four-straight games, a streak that started with a win in Nipissing. Concordia is now on break, with a 9-6-1 record, and will return on Jan. 11 to face the McGill Redmen on the road.


Stingers come out on short end in 4-3 double overtime loss to Carabins

Head coach Julie Chu still happy with the team’s performance

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team lost another tight game against their rivals, the Université de Montréal Carabins Friday night. The Carabins won 4-3 in double overtime at the CEPSUM arena.

There were a lot of broken plays in the first period, which was not expected between these two top teams.

“We have to start on time,” said Stingers head coach Julie Chu. “We got a good second and third.”

After Carabins’s Annie Germain opened the scoring early in the second, the Stingers answered 35 seconds later with a goal from Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, giving them confidence for the rest of the second period. Forward Claudia Dubois scored on a power play after a nice set-up from her teammates, Claudia Fortin and Amélie Lemay.

Montreal scored a goal in the first five minutes of the third period, tying the game 2-2. Less than two minutes later, Concordia’s Maria Manarolis scored the go-ahead goal, setting the table for a high-intensity ending as there was a lot of speed.

Forward Claudia Dubois scored a goal in the game. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Both goalies had to make key saves, but Stingers’s goalie Alice Philbert had no chance when she allowed the Carabins’s third goal off a screened shot by Jessica Cormier. Both Philbert and Aube Racine didn’t allow another goal until overtime.

There were many scoring chances in the first five minutes of four-on-four overtime, but there was still no winner. The game went into double overtime, played three-on-three. The Stingers had their chances, but Carabins forward Estelle Duvin got the final word with the game-winning goal.

Despite the loss, the Stingers were happy about their performance. “I think we didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” said forward Audrey Belzile. Fortin also noticed the slow start, but liked how her team fought back.

“We battled—I mean, it’s not a lack of effort,” Fortin said. “These are tough games and we are not depressed in the locker room right now. We are on the right way.”

Coach Chu also believes in the learning process of her young team. “We are still growing and we are going to become the team that we want to,” she said.

The Stingers are now looking forward to their next game this Sunday, as they will host the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers lose to Carabins in battle of top teams

It was the first meeting since Concordia won RSEQ final in March

The Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team played the Université de Montréal Carabins for the first time since the two met in the final last March. They gave the Carabins a good challenge and were in the mix until the last second of the game, but still lost 1-0 at the CEPSUM arena.

It could have been different with a goal or two on several scoring chances, and the Stingers failed to convert on power plays.

“Our girls overall did a really good job. It was what we expected, which is close and hard fought,” said head coach Julie Chu.

Forward Audrey Belzile (#17) was a huge part of the Stingers’s success against the Carabins last season. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

The Carabins started the game with most of the possession in the Stingers’s zone. Concordia had a hard time making good passes and was victim of many turnovers created by the Carabins in the neutral zone. Montréal won the battles along the boards, which was the story of the first period.

“They looked bigger and faster than us out there,” said forward Stéphanie Lemelin.

Stingers’s goalie Alice Philbert had to make key saves to keep the score even, especially in the first 20 minutes. “Our goalie was really good tonight,” said rookie defence Sandrine Lavictoire.

The Stingers played better near the end of the first period, and the second period was evenly played. Still, despite good scoring chances on both sides, the game remained scoreless after two periods.

The turning point of the game came in the first 30 seconds of the third period. Carabins forward Estelle Duvin scored the only goal of the game on a rebound, caused by traffic in front of Philbert.

“You never want to allow a goal in the first seconds of the period and, unfortunately, that’s what happened [to us] in the third,” Chu said.

Concordia didn’t give up as they attacked throughout the third period, creating scoring chances and forcing their opponents to take penalties. Despite that, Carabins goalie Maude Trevisan kept the door shut and had good support from her defence.

“The main point is that we did not find a way to score a goal,” Lemelin said. “We had our chances on power plays but did not capitalize. Our goalie played really well and gave [us] a chance to win.”

The Stingers are now 1-1-0, and will play their home opener Sunday against the McGill Martlets.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Student Life

Making veganism palatable

Chef Jean-Philippe Cyr talks about the food industry and his diet transition

Are you curious about vegan food? Always wondered if it’s affordable for you as a student? Here’s your chance to learn more about it! The Montreal Vegan Festival will be hosting its fifth edition this weekend, on Oct. 20 and 21.

Given the festival’s success in previous years, organizers had to relocate from Marché Bonsecours to the Palais des Congrès for this year’s event. The Montreal Vegan Festival is one of the biggest in Canada and is free for all, since the organisers want to keep it accessible and affordable. Many activities and workshops will be held in both French and English by well-known vegan chefs—such as Gaz Oakley and Sébastien Kardinal, a French chef and founder of, a platform for an array of restaurant reviews, food tastings and new recipes.

Jean-Philippe Cyr—known for “La cuisine de Jean-Philippe,” a Facebook page, website, and now a book of recipes translated into English—is this year’s festival spokesperson.

Photo courtesy of Danny Payne.

Environmental and ethical issues surrounding the food industry are some aspects of veganism the chef wanted to share. Cyr said that, since the 1960s, the world population has doubled, while the population of cows has quadrupled, meaning our beef consumption has increased significantly in that time. He also mentioned issues concerning antibiotics given to the animals we consume. Cyr said the main problem our society faces now is caused by industrialization. “Back in the day, people had a cow and a pig to feed the family; it wasn’t a major environmental problem,” he said.

Cyr is a good model for students that want to try to out a vegan diet. He said becoming a vegan can’t be done on the drop of a dime—it requires a period of transition. “I was a classically [trained] chef, already cooking vegan food in a Buddhist temple, but still I was going to McDonald’s like everyone,” said Cyr. When asked about how he began cooking vegan food, he said his breaking point came one day when he had to serve lamb at a funeral home. The atmosphere of the funeral home combined with the fact that Cyr was serving a dead baby animal was, for him, a revelation. “It was an intense connection,” he said. That day, Cyr decided to quit his job. His wife suggested that he start sharing his vegan cooking knowledge online—which Cyr thought was a good idea—so he began to do so on Facebook.

Aiming to make vegan food accessible to as many people as possible, Cyr offers alternatives for traditional recipes to help make this transition easier. “My meals are simple and easy to do and are cultural references; spaghetti sauce tastes the same whether you put beef or tofu. There are ways to eat vegan without noticing it,” Cyr said. “I am a chef, not a nutritionist,” he added.

If you are on a tight budget, switching to a vegan diet can actually help you save some money. “Last time I checked, chickpeas were still cheap and tofu is half the price of ground beef,” said Cyr.

The Montreal Vegan Festival will take place Oct. 20 and 21 at the Palais des Congrès. Jean-Philippe Cyr will give a workshop on how to prepare tofu on Saturday, Oct. 20. On Oct. 21, he will take part in a vegan poutine contest with Sébastien Kardinal.

Feature image courtesy of Danny Payne.

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