By Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance Times
Being a vegan wasn’t popular when the term was first coined in 1944 in England. It took about 70 years to see significant growth in the lifestyle choice.
But it has taken hold and become mainstream in recent years. From 2014 to 2017, eating a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey, grew from being the diet of one per cent of the population to six per cent.
That popularity has led husband and wife team Chelsey and Brad Hawkings – co-owners of Simply Delish – to head up the new Fort Langley Vegan Market happening this Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Langley Community Hall.
Admission is free to walk around and enjoy the offerings of 35 vendors that fit the vegan lifestyle, Chesley explained.
“We’ve done markets and events and festival, and that kind of thing for the last nine years,” Chelsey said. “No one has done a [vegan market] yet, and the Valley needs one.”
While there are a number of local vegan food products like those available at Simply Delish, she noted there will also be items from Vancouver-based producers – some of them brand new.
Fraser Valley-based vegans have many options, but are always looking for more and some are only available in Vancouver or from companies they may not have heard of yet, she explained.
“A lot of them are Vancouver-based,” she said of the vendors. “It gives people the ability to get their hands on some food products that they wouldn’t [normally] be able to. We’re anticipating some buzz just over some new things that will be there.”
In addition to the primarily-food vendor list, there will be a small number of apparel and body-care companies taking part in this new market.
The market is being sponsored by Jasmine Marjanovic of Cranberries Naturally, who was involved in the original plans and stepped back to focus on the new location of her retail store, but is still helping to make the market a success by assisting with promoting it.
While the market is ideal for vegans and those interested in vegan products, it’s also a fundraiser for the Hawkings’ son’s school breakfast program.
“We found out that about 50 kids each day use the program and it is funded solely on donations,” she said.
“When we decided to put the market on, we wanted to help the program out somehow.”
Vendor fees, after costs, will be donated to the breakfast program at Fort Langley Elementary. There is no admission fee, as the Hawkings want to see as many people as possible come out to shop and explore different plant food options.
Some of the not-quite-local vendors of interest include Tayybeh Syrian Food, Shani’s Seasoning, Say Hello Sweets, Yellow Basket Baking and many others from Vancouver and beyond.
“For people trying to eat vegan in the Valley, it’s a challenge. A lot of people will be excited to get a hold of [new vendor options],” Chelsey said, noting it’s a first for Fort Langley, with plant-based food vendors gathering under one roof to share tastes and talk vegan food. But she doesn’t anticipate it will be the last.