Vegan Foods

Benefits of plant-based lifestyle celebrated as Winnipeg VegFest returns after pandemic hiatus

People flocked to Winnipeg on Saturday for an annual festival celebrating plant-based lifestyles that hasn’t been held in person since before the pandemic.

Winnipeg VegFest, which has been happening in the city since 2017, drew people to the lawn outside the University of Winnipeg on Portage Avenue for food, vendors, speakers, live music and activities for children.

Kristin Lauhn-Jensen, who is vegan, said she was looking forward to trying new foods at the event – but she was also thrilled to see such turnout.

“There’s a sense of community that’s really nice,” said Lauhn-Jensen, who switched to a plant-based diet about 12 years ago for ethical reasons.

“I’ve been to VegFest in much bigger cities – London, for example, and New York – and it’s great to see this growing in Winnipeg as well.

“And people, I think, are expressing an interest [in it] who aren’t necessarily vegetarian or vegan – they just want to try alternatives, try new things, and I think that’s fantastic.”

Vegan Kristin Lauhn-Jensen says she was thrilled to see such a big turnout at the event. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Organizer Randy Tonnellier said the event was part conference, part festival and “really just a celebration of all things plant-based”.

Tonnellier said people can expect a bustling market and food court, with around 80 vendors between them, a children’s area with competitions throughout the day, live music and a show dragsters.

But the real star is the roster of speakers the event brings in from around the world, he said.

This list includes vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian, who has been featured in The game changersa documentary about professional athletes who follow a plant-based diet.

Tonnellier said the event focuses on animal welfare, the environmental and health impacts of switching to more plant-based diets – which he hopes to bring home for anyone who stops by. festival.

“I think people are really realizing that eating animals and eating animal products just isn’t a sustainable way of life anymore,” he told CBC. Weekend morning show host Keisha Paul.

A 2018 study suggests that giving up meat and dairy is the most effective way a person can reduce their environmental impact.

Darci Geiger was among the vendors at this year’s event with her company, Plant Power Jerky, which makes dried plant-based products from soy protein.

A woman with long black hair shows a bag of plant-based jerky.
Darci Geiger makes vegan jerky from non-GMO soy protein, which she was selling at this year’s event. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

She said she hears people more often saying they want to try more plant-based foods for environmental reasons, which is part of why events like VegFest matter.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to go out and try different foods and meet people who are vegetarians and vegans and ask questions, and it’s good for the community to be able to celebrate,” Geiger said. , which has been herbal since she was six years old.

Carrie Kettles, who traveled to Winnipeg from Lac du Bonnet for VegFest and was attending the event, said she was looking forward to seeing old friends and supporting vendors at the festival.

She said she decided to switch to a mostly plant-based diet for several reasons.

“I love that it’s healthier for the animals, the planet, and myself,” Kettles said.

A woman in sunglasses with a hat on smiles sitting in a chair outdoors.  A plate of food is on the table in front of her.
Carrie Kettles says she decided to switch to a mostly plant-based diet for animal welfare, environmental and health reasons. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

And Tonnellier said that while the event focuses on all things plant-based, you don’t have to give up the meat to stop in and learn more.

“There’s nothing about our event that we want people to feel intimidated by. We don’t want you to sign up for anything – to, you know, go vegan overnight, something like that,” he said.

“It’s just to help educate people. And some people might choose to take a meatless Monday in the future. Some people might choose to go vegan. But whatever people get out of it, we’re just happy to be there and help spread the word.”

Winnipeg VegFest runs until 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of Winnipeg.