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5 Reasons to Love Niagara VegFest

This was Niagara VegFest’s fifth year, and my how they’ve grown. This year they added a wine tour with gourmet vegan food pairings, a film screening, ‘Racing Extinction’, and a rocking event with over 80 vendors, guest speakers, live music sponsored by the Niagara Jazz Festival, and a kids zone, with Niagara Inflatables, at the St. Catharines Market Square.

The rain didn’t dampen this parade, thanks to the glass atrium at the Market Square, St. Catharines[/caption]

I remember the first time I had vegan food.  It was at ‘Live’ in Toronto and the restaurant made dishes from completely raw vegetables. It was incredible. I had my first shot of wheatgrass there.  I remember being amazed by the talent and creativity and colour of the dishes.  The tastes were fresh and bright.  My appetite was satisfied, but in a more energized, lightened way.  The experience really struck me, because it seemed to me that it was a rare talent to make vegan food taste great.

Vegan, gluten-free pambazo made by Chef Collin Goodine from Goodine Catering, paired with Pillitteri 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon[/caption]

I probably will never be vegan.  I raise chickens and eat far too many eggs, love cheese like a cartoon mouse, and rather enjoy the occasional filet mignon.  That being said, however, I think there are some pretty valuable reasons to enjoy meat and dairy much, much, much more occasionally than at present the world is consuming them.  It’s because of these reasons that I think VegFest,  is striking a cord here in Niagara.  NiagaraVegFest is about promoting a vegan, vegetarian and compassionate lifestyles.

Here are 5 reasons to love Niagara Vegfest because of the important issues it brings into the limelight.

1. There is a socio-environmental need to cut back on meat consumption. National Geographic did a nine-part series on the Future of Food, probing the question of how we will feed the world when it balloons to nine million with global climate change.  The facts are plain to see.  Meat consumption needs to go down, and cattle was one of the worst culprits; requiring 90% more land, more water, more feed, and causes the most emissions of any other animal raised for meat, estimated at about 40-65% of agriculture’s total carbon footprint.

2. Inhumane, and or controversial, treatment of animals; housing issues, growth hormones, antibiotics, animal poaching, over-fishing, over farming.  That’s why we love to hear about awesome, small, local farms like Linc Farm@Southbrook who lovingly care for their little sheep. Tiffany Mayer just wrote a great story about them in The Standard.

3. Supporting local farms and promoting food sustainability. We love the land we have in Niagara.  If you love having locally grown fruits and vegetables, eat more fruits and vegetables, so that the local farmers will stay in existence.  If you love how our rural landscape looks, do the same, but write to your regional councillors and MP’s too. (No, I’m not talking politics on this site.  It’s bad dinner conversation, ruins digestion).

4. Promoting local businesses that support local farmers, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free lifestyle choices and make it more mainstream for everyone to experience; Garden City Food Co-op, Rise Above Bakery, Beechwood Donuts, Moksha Indian cuisine, Scratch Bakery, Avella’s Wood Fired Oven…Did you check out TNL yet?

5. Oh, wait… your health.  Right, almost forgot that one.  Dr. Gregor, who spoke at VegFest says eating a “plant-based diets today are the nutritional equivalent to quitting smoking” and diet is the “#1 cause of death” in North America.

These might be just a few of the reasons thousands of people come out to support Niagara VegFest.  But then again, they might be coming out for these ones:

I love how these soup medleys look in their mason jars[/caption]

Garden City Food Co-op, bringing farm-fresh foods to downtown… not just on Market day, but every day.[/caption]

Flat Rock Cellars’ divine 2015 Riesling paired with the most amazing vegan ceviche, made of pulses, and a beet crisp.[/caption]

Enjoying the gorgeous weather for the Niagara VegFest Wine Tour at the patio at Flat Rock[/caption]

Kami, serving at the Niagara VegFest Wine Tour[/caption]

Two Vegan Hippie Chicks[/caption]

Girls just wanna have fun at Pillitteri[/caption]

The amazing smells from Avella’s Wood Fired Oven brought the crowds in right off the street.[/caption]

The Spiced Leaf Tea Co.[/caption]

I have a serious thing for flags[/caption]

The speaker stage taught visitors about plant-based diets, food as medicine, and more.[/caption]

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