Victoria Vegan Fest

The first-annual Victoria Vegan Fest welcomes tried and true vegans and the vegan curious to educate, motivate and inspire.

Dave Shishkoff and Sarah Kramer want to educate, motivate and inspire at the first-annual Victoria Vegan Fest.

Vegans of Victoria! Get ready for a community celebration of your lifestyle.

The first-annual Victoria Vegan Fest will take over Market Square on Canada Day to promote a vegan lifestyle of not using or consuming any animals or animal byproducts. Vegans don’t wear animal skins, like leather, or other animal byproducts, like silk, and they don’t use products that have been tested on animals, but the festival isn’t strictly for the converted — the vegan-curious are welcome, too.

For five hours on Sunday, July 1, Market Square will be transformed into a vegan wonderland with vendors, workshops, speakers, cooking demos, kids activities, music, entertainment and even a game show — Canada’s Next Top Vegan — where contestants will compete in feats of vegan strength, vegan trivia and maybe even an eating contest.

Hosted by two of Victoria’s best-known vegans, Dave Shishkoff of thevictoriavegan.com and Canadian correspondent for Friends of Animals; and Sarah Kramer, owner of vegan boutique Sarah’s Place and author of vegan cookbooks How It All Vegan and La Dolce Vegan, the celebration will attempt to “educate, motivate and inspire” vegans and non-vegans alike to live a healthier lifestyle.

The two voracious vegans decided to organize the festival just three months ago and chose Market Square as the perfect location as it already has two all-vegan shops, Sarah’s Place and long-established Green Cuisine.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I travel a lot with my books and I’ve been to so many festivals and I thought why not do it here? We have such a strong vegan community,” says Kramer.

And the best part about that community? “Victoria is so unique and special,” says Kramer. “Our downtown core is so dense. In places like Vancouver, sure there are tons of vegan options, but it takes forever to get to them. In Victoria, you can walk to all of them easily.”

And although there are only a small number of all-vegan shops and restaurants, Shishkoff says that most restaurants offer some vegan options, that’s why Friends of Animals is launching a restaurant decal program. Restaurants that offer vegan options can put the Friends of Animals decal in their window to make it easy for  customers with dietary restrictions.

“It’s great to have vegetarian options on the menu, but vegans can’t always eat them. If there are vegan options, vegetarians can eat them, too,” says Kramer.

“And vegans talk,” adds Shishkoff. “We’re a pretty tight knit community.”

The day kicks off at noon and workshops begin at 12:30 p.m., with a cooking demo by raw chef and instructor Jim Maurice. Next up is vegan chef Bryanna Clark Grogan who will be teaching a class on how to make your own vegan “butter” and discussing the perils of palm oil, which can be found in many popular vegan products.

At 2 p.m., star of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars Shannon Mann will be speaking on backyard activism, before Vesanto Melina speaks on vegan nutrition at 2:30 p.m.

The final two speakers of the day, Shishkoff and Lesley Fox will focus their talks on activism as well.

The main stage will play host to yoga, Greg the vegan juggler, and ukulele trio The Ukubellas. For full schedule and workshop descriptions, visit victoriaveganfest.com. M

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