Vegan Torontonians shop, feast at holiday market

Event featured vegan foods, drinks, and other gifts

Woman eats a vegan cabbage roll
Itsuka, an attendee at the Veg Holiday Market, eats a rice-filled cabbage roll.  Sean Leca/Toronto Observer

There was at least one Christmas market in Toronto with no talk of turkeys.

The third annual Veg Holiday Market, a Christmas-time stop for vegans, took over the Artscape Wychwood Barns on Sunday. The market featured foods, drinks, and apparel made without animal by-products. The event is run by the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

Read more about another event Toronto Vegetarian Association hosted.

Denyse Mehta, executive director of the association, says the holidays can often be a tough time for vegans.

“The holidays, for people who are not omnivores, tend to be very difficult,” Mehta says. The market creates a “space where people can feel there is something for them in terms of gifts, food, and packaged goods.”

Tracey Tomlinson is a vegan that attended the event. She thinks the event is helpful towards the vegan cause.

“[The event] makes it more friendly, open, and inclusive to introduce people to this lifestyle,” Tomlinson says. “It’s not just granola…. We still drink beer, we still like good food.”

One of the venders was Chic Peas Veg, a vegan catering company that offers plant-based food with an Eritrean twist.

Naza Hasebenebi, the owner and founder of Chic Peas Veg, was at the event serving foods like curried lentils and injera, a spongey sourdough flatbread.

“Our inspiration is our culture,” Hasebenebi says. “We grew up where food is so much more than sustenance, it’s nourishment, it’s community, it’s love, and everything that we do here is all an extension of that.”

Hasabenebi has been a vegan for 20 years. She says options for vegans in Toronto have increased.

“There is so much available here and it continues to grow,” Hasabenebi says. “Not only in Toronto, but all over the world, people are becoming more conscious… more aware, they want to know how to eat healthier and how the choices we make about what we consume affects the planet.”

Luis Vasquez is a vegan attending the event. He sees the event as an opportunity to try different foods.

“We can all maybe grow a bit more by going outside our comfort zone and trying something new,” Vasquez says. “An event like this can open up the eyes for a lot of people to see and understand that life as a vegetarian or vegan isn’t as hard as it used to be.”

A similar event, the Toronto Vegan Christmas Market, is being held on Dec.14.

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Posted: Nov 27 2019 12:28 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life Community Events Food News Science & Health