Every year’s Vegan MoFo alerts me to a number of new/established blogs I immediately become obsessed with, but I think this year’s was extra-special. You might know that one half (if you don’t count Buhbah) of us VOTMers is Canadian, and I am particularly fond of French Canada since I spent thirteen years in French Immersion. Tragically, my French isn’t anywhere near it should be, but after visiting my little sister, who is a resident of Montréal, and applying for a couple of jobs in the city that gave rise to Leonard Cohen, I’m pretty stoked on Montréal, and French.
The author of Vegan à Montréal, Babette, is a native Quebecer whose French language blog is full of vegan recipe reviews, vegan food, guides to the vegan goodness to be found in Montréal, and much more. Luckily for us, Babette is also fluent in English, and graciously answered some questions about her blog and vegan life in French Canada.
VOTM: When and why did you start your blog?
Babette: I started my blog two years ago, in October of 2009. I had been reading vegan blogs for a couple of years, and these blogs were mostly written by Americans and other English-speaking people. There were very few vegan blogs from Montreal and elsewhere in Québec, and most of them were in English. I thought I could create a French blog that could be used as a reference for aspiring vegans who speak French. It sometimes can be a hassle, when it is at all possible, to look up information in English, and I feel this might discourage people who want to embrace veganism. I didn’t want to publish a blog without pictures, so as soon as I got a digital camera, I started Vegan à Montréal. At first, it was really mostly to help people know veganism, but as time passed, I came to enjoy writing my blog more and more. Sometimes I even feel like I am a little obsessed with it.
VOTM: What is it like being a vegan in Montreal? How has the vegan scene evolved?
Montreal is great for vegans. Since 1997, we have an all-vegan restaurant called Aux Vivres, and a couple of other vegan restaurants have opened since then. Unfortunately, most of them are located downtown or in the Plateau (Montreal’s trendy neighbourhood)… I wish they were spread all over the city, or just around the corner of my house, but hey, I am not going to complain! We also have a lot of vegetarian places, and they all offer vegan options. Other than that, there are standard restaurants that offer decent vegan options, but there are also places where you have to settle for a green salad or pasta with tomato sauce. Nothing’s perfect.
And I have to mention the opening of Viva Vegan a couple of years ago. This online store carries all sorts of vegan goodies (pizzas, cheeses, candies, beauty products, marshmallows, etc.), and last winter, they opened a physical store in the city. How cool is that! They even have a selection of baked goods like vegan croissants, vegan cupcakes, vegan baklavas, etc. The vegan scene has been evolving in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Montrealers.
VOTM: Since your blog is written in French, where do the majority of your readers come from? Have you made any connections through the French-speaking blogging world?
Most of my readers come from Quebec. But there are also French readers in other parts of the country, as well as readers from France. A few people also told me they read my blog to practice their French. Many people have started their own vegan or vegetarian blog since I started mine, and I hope it sets a trend. I wish there were so many vegan blogs in French that it’d be hard to keep track of them.
VOTM: Why are you vegan? Are you involved in any vegan outreach activities (other than the blog, of course)?
I’m vegan for the ethical reasons—the environment, the animals, etc. I remember when I was 17, I thought being vegan could absolutely not be healthy, even though I had been vegetarian for a couple of years and was open to new information. That’s when I got a computer and Internet access—well, that was more than 10 years ago! I started posting in a vegetarian forum, and there was some guy there who had just turned vegan and he pointed to websites where people could learn the reasons behind veganism. I read about factory farming and learned, among other things, that the hens and cows who produced the eggs and milk I was consuming were not ethically treated, and were eventually killed and transformed into meat. Most importantly, I saw how veganism was totally healthy, and this just confirmed that I had to be vegan, that there was nothing crazy about it. Less than one or two weeks later, I was vegan, and I never turned back. Veganism defines who I am and it really became an integral part of my identity.
As for activism, I go to protests a couple of times a year and I also do outreach activities with animal rights organizations.
VOTM: What is your favourite vegan restaurant option in Montreal?
I would have to say Aux Vivres—they make killer sandwiches like the BLT. Their brunches are wonderful. So are their desserts. I love it! I’m also a big fan of La Panthère verte, an all vegan sandwich joint. I really like their tempeh sandwich and they also sell homemade vegan kefir. And Viva Vegan sells great sandwiches, grilled-cheeze sandwiches, pizza rolls and wonderful pastries. I can’t go there without sampling something.
Thank you so much, Babette!
And with that, happy holidays and thank you for reading our wee blog. We look forward to bring you some exciting content in 2012. 2011 was an amazing year for veganism, and it can only get better. We want to remind you guys that we are dying to hear about your small- or large-scale vegan advocacy/projects where you live! Please email us at email@example.com so we can feature you and inspire vegans everywhere.