Leaf the Meat Off the Menu at Compassion Con 2019

The totally free, totally vegan event will be held on the Surrey campus on Jan. 31

Richard MacMillan of the Let’s Be Compassionate Club. (Kristen Frier)

KPU’s Let’s Be Compassionate Club will be hosting its first ever Compassion Con on the Surrey campus on the afternoon of Jan. 31.

The 100 per cent vegan, 100 per cent free event is inspired by VegFest, which was hosted by Capilano University. There will be plant-based vendors, lectures by a range of influential figures, zero-waste demonstrations, cooking tutorials, and—best of all—free plant-based snacks at the event.

“We know there is a community of vegetarians and people who are interested in going vegan,” says Richard MacMillan, co-founder of the Let’s Be Compassionate Club and the coordinator of Compassion Con. “This [event] is supposed to contribute to the shift that’s going on.”

Emily Pickett, Program Coordinator of the Vancouver Humane Society, believes that having events like this on university campuses will have an impact on how students decide what to eat. The Vancouver Humane Society previously helped KPU establish its Meatless Mondays event, which is designed to educate students about plant-based eating.

“We’ve seen polling that suggests young people, young Canadians, are very much open to a plant-based diet,” says Pickett. “They are the ones who are going to be inheriting this planet, so [for them] to learn to eat more humanely, sustainably, and better for their health is super important.”

Geoff Regier, a former undercover investigator who has worked on farms and in slaughterhouses across Canada, will be speaking at the convention about his experiences with how animals are treated in these facilities. He says that, as a generally progressive population, university students are the “optimal demographic to reach” through such discussions.

“I would describe the work as the best job and the worst job,” says Regier, about his professional history. “Obviously it’s really meaningful work to be part of a movement that’s gradually eliminating and reducing the suffering of other animals, [but] nobody wants to work in a slaughterhouse. It doesn’t feel good, witnessing it and on some level participating in the suffering of animals.”

Another panelist is Mandy Gill, a Reebok-sponsored professional athlete who thrives on a plant-based diet.

“[Vegans] get asked about protein all the time,” says MacMillan. “So hearing from someone who is an elite athlete will be very powerful.”

The intention of the event is to help empower students to make well-informed lifestyle changes and to learn about meat-reduction and sustainable living in a friendly and positive way.

“That’s always our goal with raising awareness about plant-based diets and veganism, to be really welcoming and reach people where they’re at and kind of help equip them to move along that journey,” says Pickett.

Regier hopes that he can “help already compassionate student make the connection between the foods that they eat and the animals that are slaughtered for those foods.”

If you have ever considered going vegan, would like to become better informed about your dietary choices, or like Clif Bars, don’t miss out on Compassion Con 2019.

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