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Halifax’s inaugural VegFest dishes on all things vegetarian

After watching a rather terrifying documentary about where our food comes from, I scared myself off meat for four years.

As someone who grew up on Friday-night chicken dinners and referred to summer as steak season, this drastic diet change came as a surprise to everyone in my life.

What began as a month-long, fear-induced diet morphed into a complete lifestyle change, with noticeable results.

I’m not saying it’s for everyone and, frankly, it takes work to maintain a well-balanced, plant-based diet if your activity level is even moderately over that of a sloth.

Knowing how is half the battle, according to one of the organizers of Halifax’s first VegFest.

Jessie Doyle, co-owner of Fruition, says it’s a lot simpler than people think to make healthy, positive changes to your diet.

“Trying to eat as much natural and whole foods as possible can make a difference,” she said.

“I think it can get really complicated because people are so fixated on buzz words like gluten-free, Paleo, saying one is better than the other — but really, for all of them, it all comes down to whole, natural foods.”

Together with Fruition co-owner Seth Graham and enVie owner Diandra Phipps, these local entrepreneurs are spreading the gospel of the vegan diet by co-hosting this event.

But there is a difference between informing and forcing one’s beliefs on another. They stress that VegFest will be all-inclusive.

“It’s really important to us to have this be a welcoming event and remain very positive,” said Doyle. “Really, if you enjoy fun and food, you’ll have a good time.”

Aside from the vegan vendors that will fill Olympic Centre on Saturday, the day-long event includes a variety of presenters, including keynote speaker Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary.

“We had seen such a rise in interest in vegetarian and vegan food — plant-based eating and the different benefits in terms of health and animal rights and environmental effects,” said Doyle, explaining the original concept behind VegFest.

“The amount of information available to the greater public is growing, in terms of the media, movies, documentaries, even just people talking about it through word of mouth,” added Graham.

If you go

What: Halifax VegFest 2014

Where: Olympic Community Centre

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets: $5

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