In Ottawa, it’s never been easier to be a vegetarian or a vegan than it is now, said an organizer of this Sunday’s Veg Fest.

And Camille Labchuk should know — the 25-year-old city resident has been living the lifestyle for years, after going vegetarian at age 12 after watching a documentary on animal abuse.

“More restaurants are offering vegetarian items and stores are stocking a lot more products like meat substitutions and dairy alternatives,” said Labchuk. “Finding food is never a problem for vegetarians in Ottawa.”


This weekend, a free inaugural event aims to make it easier for people — whether they live the lifestyle or are merely curious.

Hosted by the National Capital Vegetarian Association, Veg Fest 2009, at the Glebe Community Centre, will showcase dozens of local businesses and retailers and includes free food samples and demonstrations by local chefs. Speakers include registered dietitian and internationally known author of books on veganism and vegetarianism Brenda Davis.

Over the last couple of years, Ottawa has seen a huge growth in the vegan and vegetarian scene, said Labchuk.

“More and more restaurants are offering vegetarian options. Many of us travel to Toronto for their festival in the fall. We decided that the Ottawa vegetarian community could support this festival.”

While people of all ages are turning towards vegetarianism, there are three main reasons why people do it, Labchuk said.

Compassion for animals, and choosing the best diet for their health are two of the big reasons, but people also want to live lightly on the planet, she said.

“A lot of people trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help stop climate change,” Labchuk said. “Growing animals for food is inefficient.”

But people don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to attend the festival, said Labchuk.

“A lot of people are interested in learning more about the diet and this is a chance to show them how amazing the food is,” she said. “You just have to like good food because that’s what it’s about.”

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