Making Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup at The Vegetarian Food Festival
As many of you- my sweet, lovely, wise and informed readers know, I do my song and dance all the live long day with a smile on my face and a colourful apron to catch my messes as I strive to educate anyone who wants to learn, about living in a state of abundant health.
I make it my mission to welcome people into the world of my blog, to all events in which I participate, and into my kitchen- no matter what their current lifestyle or eating habits are. I assume, if you are coming to me for advice, you are looking to make a few changes. I also stress in every presentation that I do, whether in my own kitchen, at public events or on TV, that people need to simply start from where they are at, and take it one step further towards health. I have believed, for the nearly four years that I have been working in this field, that this has been an effective approach.
I am actually sure of it based on a book deal on my approach and the flood of emails and comments I get after every class I teach. For example...
This class calms any fear you have about changing your diet/lifestyle. She is truly a teacher who imparts information in a relaxed, consise and easy to understand format. The key to this class is the food preparation and tasting after she speaks on the whys and hows. She shows you how simple it is to incorporate these foods into your daily life.....and it is all delicious!! Thank-you Meghan!! - Reviewed by Ann
One word can explain this class, Awesome! Last night was my first and not my last experience with RAW food. Meghan is uplifting, fun and has words of wisdom. I absolutely loved this class and would highly recommend this raw experience. My favourite of course, " Super Hero Balls "! This raw delight fulfilled my sweet tooth and of course had two! Thank you for this delightful experience and I will definitely be attending future classes in your kitchen! - Reviewed by Cathy
Last week, Maeve emailed the organizers of the upcoming Toronto Raw Vegan Festival to confirm my presentation time.
Presenting at such events is part of how I make a living. Given how much I love the foods that come along with the raw vegan lifestyle- the kelp noodles, spirulina, coconut oil, irish moss and all that jazz, I was thrilled to be accepted as a speaker. So thrilled that I was happy to play along without compensation. Given that my diet is predominantly vegan, and that 70% or so is actually raw - full of smoothies and what not, I was uber excited to share with the veg/raw curious peeps at the show how I transitioned to this way of eating, and teach them how to integrate it all step-by-step. Given that all the brands that I support bare the title of vegan on most, if not all their products, and that all of my classes are 100% plant based, I thought this was the perfect spot for me to be.
As I am sure you can imagine, we were incredibly surprised with the response to Maeve's email, inquiring about the presentation times. The response let us know that I was under review by their board as to whether it was suitable for me to present there. This was nearly two months after they had accepted me. I was excited to be taking part but was totally honoured when they asked me if I would be available to present both days of the event. Even though I normally charge for cooking demos, I was so excited to be a part of this that I didn't think twice and went about scheduling my weekend and teaching schedule around being available.
Given that I like to keep things open and honest here, I can let you know, and am slightly embarrassed to say that all my excitement seems to have been for nothing. The board of directors of the event, has since rescinded their offer, without much explanation, believing that I was "advocating meat eating".
I sincerely believe that labels should be reserved for tin cans and I advocate healthy eating whether it be vegan, vegetarian, raw, paleo, omnivore or whatever a person chooses. I choose to support people's health, not mandate any one diet or regime, or expect that everyone should eat just like me. If a person is seeking education on incorporating more plants into their diet, well, that is where I come in. That's what I know, that is what I eat and live and that is what I do and teach.
I obviously have great respect for individuals who live by their own creed. The tricky bit was to think that our creeds were so closely aligned. I was so excited about promoting the event and this lifestyle that I was open to presenting, offering samples, handouts, recipes, loads of my energy and all that jazz to help support what they were building.
I would understand the concerns the organizers may have had, if I was in fact teaching classes about searing steaks or skewering tuna. But we all know my classes are vegan though, again, I prefer to leave the labels on the tins of organic chickpeas.
Given that it seemed they didn't know too much about me, I decided to send an email to about a dozen of my students, colleagues, and sponsors explaining the situation and hoping they might be able to vouch for my integrity with the work that I do- if it resonated with them to do so.
Well, word travelled fast and the organizers were apparently inundated with emails- some in agreement that I don't present and many, many others claiming it discrimination and endorsing my work and reach to a wider audience.
I had hoped that this could have all been resolved and put behind us as a learning experience, and that perhaps the Toronto Raw Vegan Festival could become more welcoming to the general population of this fair open minded city - particularly, those in the process of transitioning their health and their lives. I want these people to experience the goodness of so many of the outstanding vendors that will be there including E3Live, Living Libations, Sweets From The Earth, LPK's Culinary Groove, Live Food Bar, Giddy YoYo Chocolate, Nud Food, Tonica Kombucha, Ruth's Foods, Sprouting Goodness and more.
You wouldn't believe how upset and hurt I was to end my week last week, after thinking that we were once again on the same side- based on lengthy conversations with both lead organizers, only to receive an angry, threatening email from a member of the Raw/Vegan community full of aggressive accusations, threats, and suggesting that he would make it his personal mission to ensure I was never able to participate in any festivals ever again- no matter what the theme.
I was even more upset to receive a letter by courier- after a conversation with an organizer, her telling me she would stand up beside me during my presentation to defend me if that is what it would take - telling me my application had been re-evaluated and denied- not just to present, but that I was no longer welcome as a vendor anymore.
Even before I was officially denied participation, I had been having doubts about playing along as I wouldn't want to be contributing to any exclusionary mandates or condoning the harassment of individuals who may not have the exact same belief system. What kept coming back to me was the amazing support I received from the other AwesomeTown Peeps who will be there and I felt the message I wanted to share was more important than the negative stuff that had occurred.
I would have loved to participate as I truly believe the work that I do in helping people transition, and doing so with a sense of fun, adventure and curiosity, is what is most important.
As always, it's your feedback that helps me decide what directions I pursue as I work to reach out to more people. I would really love your honest thoughts on the matter.