Eat Your Vegetables!

Vegetables. Photo Esther Szeben. Vegetables. Photo Esther Szeben.

If September means new beginnings, whether you  are picking a fresh cherry tomato off its vine or filling your basket at the local farmers market with the fresh récolte, this September offers some great challenges to accompany that end of summer/back to school quest. UQAM will be Vegan headquarters for Montreal’s first ever Vegan Festival that will span two days between September 26 and 27, but the lead up begins Friday September 5 by kicking things off with a 21-day vegan challenge. The launch of the challenge begins at 5 p.m. this Friday at the St Denis restaurant Resto Vego.

Beans. Photo Esther Szeben.

Beans. Photo Esther Szeben.

Participants are welcome to join a 21-day Vegan Challenge either prior to the festival, from September 6 to 26 or after the festivities from September 27 to October 17. Online registration is free and is co-sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. For 21 days, registrants will be invited to discover and test vegan recipes with the support of a detailed Challenge Kit, participate in a Facebook group dedicated to providing mentorship and answering FAQs, learn from weekly segments from an expert committee and benefit from special discounts with partners of the Montreal Vegan Festival 21-day challenge.

Phot Esther Szeben

Photo Esther Szeben

Later in the month, Physician and author, Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts  will present a lecture, Table to Able on Friday September 26 at 7 p.m. inPavillon Judith-Jasmin Room J-M400.  The cost is $10 and all proceeds are donated to his non-commercial website to provide free daily videos and articles on the latest discoveries in nutrition. Tickets can be booked in advance at a reduced rate of $7.

Vegetables. Photo Esther Szeben.

Vegetables and Fruits. Photo Esther Szeben.

Access to the site, exhibits, culinary demos, and conferences on Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. will be entirely free. Some of the sessions include Cooking with Heirlooms with guest Antonio Vargas, Molecular Cooking: Advanced Techniques for a Vegan Cook, The Vegan Revolution in Israel with Ori Shavit, and certainly one I will make a point of attending, Esther the Wonder Pig. Esther was rejected from the commercial farm on which she was born in the summer of 2012. However, they soon discovered they’d been misled, as Esther grew to a current 540 pounds. Derek Walter and Steve Jenkins adopted Esther and have created a whole fan club around this swine, who reaped instant popularity. “After a successful crowdfunding campaign, they have bought a sanctuary to save more pigs and educate the public about not what they are eating, but whom.”

I’ve dug through my pantry and found my nutritional yeast, textured vegetable protein and dusted off my favourite (only) vegan cookbook, the Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet. I’m signed up for the challenge and ready to say goodbye to traditional poutine, cheese and all things animal-derived. I expect the payoff to be easier on the grocery budget, lighter on my digestion, better for the planet, while propagating a new crop for Montreal’s flourishing festival scene.

Resto Végo is at 1720 St-Denis, Montreal, next to Berri-UQAM. (514) 845-2627. The Montreal Vegan Festival takes place September 26 and 27 at UQAM.