Quebec’s largest vegan food festival happened this past weekend. The beautiful confines of Bonsecours Market were the location of the 3rd annual Montreal Vegan Festival. Just a few years ago a vegan lifestyle was seen as “exotic” now everyone knows someone who is vegan. Vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere and many established ones serve vegan options.
Because they had so many people at last year’s edition (10,000) the set up was changed from last year in an effort to reduce the line-up to get in and the congestion inside. Separated into four different areas, they were successful breaking up the crowd and keeping navigation fairly smooth.
The first area was filled with tables selling books educating people about a vegan lifestyle. Anything you could want to know whether it be diet, health or how being vegan benefits the planet we live on could be found here. Here, you could also find different vegan or animal groups such as the SPCA, Humane Society International, Fauna Foundation (Canada’s only chimpanzee sanctuary), and Vegan Legion (vegans who advocate for animals). I called this the educational section as it was an area where you could get literature and speak to animal activists/vegans about a number of subjects.
Just below was the workshop area. When I arrived on Sunday morning that area smelt great! It was because there was a class teaching you how to make a vegan version of queso (cheese), sour cream and artichoke dip for nachos. Just the smell alone was enough to convince me that not only was it possible, but delicious. Workshops like this went on all weekend covering subjects like plant-based eating, vegan cosmetics, vegan athletes, animal rights, and vegan urban agriculture.
Up one flight were the two exhibition areas and a small dining area. The dining area was smack dab in the middle of the two and was hosted by Aux Vivres. Anyone who is a vegetarian or vegan in Montreal knows this well-established restaurant. Since they did not have a full kitchen at their disposal their full (varied and large) menu was not available, but there was plenty of choice. To fuel yourself up for your walk around the different booths you could have one of their sandwiches like Dragon (tofu or grilled tempeh, shredded beet, carrot, red cabbage, daikon, lettuce, sprouts & Dragon sauce) or the Tempeh Burger (Noble Bean tempeh grilled and served on a whole-wheat bun with caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, pickle & chipotle mayo). All healthy and all tasty options! There was even a little booth selling delicious looking vegan desserts (it took all my willpower to resist one of their donuts!).
Finally, in the two exhibition areas there were a cornucopia of different companies there introducing you to their vegan products. Some were well-known companies like Copper Branch, Crudessence, Dose, Lola Rosa, and Resto Végo. Others I was not previously familiar with and will now incorporate into my life. Rawesome always had a large group around their booth as they make vegan cheese cakes made out of cashew. They had a load of flavours to sample like Lime in the Coconut, Caramel Sensation, Café Mocha, and (my favourite) White Chocolate. The cakes are 100% natural with no added oil just using fermented cashews. High in protein and low in salt. Also, in their line of products is a cashew cream cheese. Several different flavours to sample like Garlic & Black Pepper, Onion & Chives and Original. I purchased the Onion & Chives. Was delicious and great texture!
Next up was Tout Cru! Fermentation and pickling is the name of the game here. Fermentation is hot within the vegan community. They focus on digestive enzymes, probiotics and healthy microbiome. As much as possible their product is season, raw, local, organic and unpasteurized. Nothing is wasted here as for $1 you could do a shot of pickle juice or lemon pickle juice. A must for pickle fans! Much of the focus is on sauerkraut of different varieties. There is La Consentida (lemon dill sauerkraut), La Sirena (seaweed kraut) and, of course, La Natural (regular sauerkraut). There were also some featuring kimchi and seasonal vegetables. Everything has a Spanish touch to it. Located in Delson you can find Tout Cru! sold in several places around the Montreal area.
Veggemo has been around for a few years, but I was new to it. It is the first non-dairy beverage made from vegetables. Instead of soy, rice or almonds they use pea protein, tapioca and potato. The magic is that it does not taste like vegetables. Plus it is rich in calcium, B12 and Vitamin D. Dairy free, gluten free, kosher, cholesterol free, and soy free. It comes in three flavours: Original, Unsweetened and Vanilla.
At work I have seen people eating Asian style soups in glass jars. Picking up on that trend is Ma Vitrine Bio. This company has created healthy vegan soups that you just have to add boiling water to and shake. They all come in glass jars so you can see all the stuff that is inside and there are several different flavours. Dragon (beets, tofu, sesame) and Maki (vermicelli rice, tempeh, peanuts) were featured. They also have meal salads packaged the same way.
Who would like to get a little surprise package every month in the mail? That is the concept that Little Life Box is based upon. A health and lifestyle subscription box company that delivers to you a box filled with vegan products. Products like food, cleansers, cosmetics, and drinks. Everything in the box is available in Canada, so if you like something you can buy it here. Plus every month’s box will be different from the previous.
Smoothies are good for you, but messy to make and sometimes time consuming. Evive solves the problem for you via their product. It is smoothies in cubes that are ready in 30 seconds. The cubes are frozen and contain fruits, vegetables and super foods. You just add your liquid (almond milk, juice or soya) and shake. No blender is needed. All the ingredients are certified 100% organic, vegan and raw. There are three flavours: The Warrior (raspberry, strawberry, beetroot, date, chia seeds, mint, and brown rice protein), The Touk-Touk (mango, pineapple, apricot, coconut, and sea buckthorn berry) and The Yogi (banana, spinach, pear, kale, brown rice protein, hemp seeds, parsley, and lemon). A healthy and quick way to feed yourself. Also transportable.
Finally, there was Chef Veganessa. Situated on the West Island this caterer and take-out counter features wholegrain, plant-based, gluten free, and vegan food. The person behind all this is Vanessa Percher, a graduate of St-Pius Culinary Institute. Open since 2013 each week they put out a menu which you can order from and they will deliver to your door. Healthy and easy. On site they had their delicious VDogs topped with purple cabbage and a spicy sauce, curried quinoa salad and chocolate peanut butter cups.
I didn’t even get into the cosmetics, clothes, ice cream, juices, desserts, and soups that were available. The variety was incredible. Samples a plenty. At each booth there were knowledgeable people who you could discuss the product with at length. The great thing is that the products were all available in Montreal. Most booths had lists of where you could buy their products. It was my first time at the festival, but certainly will not be my last.