Ottawa to Montreal and Back: A Vegan Salon

This morning I took a hypnotic train ride from Ottawa to Montreal to visit a fellow food writer (and friend). She’s vegan; her husband comes close (he’s French and when he visits his family back in the homeland, there’s that damn cheese plate); and her three friends who joined us (philosophers who specialize in animal ethics) were also vegan. The train was clean and on time.

After a bike ride around Montreal (on one of those impossibly progressive city-owned bikes), we spent the afternoon in my friend’s apartment talking animals, ethics, social change. One of her friends was fresh from jail, a victim of the crackdown on students protesting tuition hikes; another was fresh from graduate school, having earned her PhD two days ago. They appeared equally liberated.

Talking and drinking good red wine with intelligent and like-minded citizens of Quebec was, well, unspeakable bliss, much needed after months going tete-a-tete with ornery foodies, hunters, and Joel Salatin. Adversarial confrontations are needed, but they can take an emotional toll. Speaking with real people on a similar plane can be better than therapy. Today felt better than therapeutic.

Our conversation was something rare: it was a conversation. Everyone spoke, everyone had interesting things to offer, everyone came from a slightly different perspective. There were disagreements as well as nods of consent, and a lot more English spoken than French, which was critical for me, a sad product of the American emphasis on uni-lingualism. (Although I had no trouble recognizing any reference to “vin rouge.”)

Tomorrow I speak at Ottawa’s fourth annual VegFest. Report to come.

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About James McWilliams
I'm a historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. This blog is dedicated to exploring the ethics of eating animals and animal-based products.

7 Responses to Ottawa to Montreal and Back: A Vegan Salon

  1. brian lindberg says:

    bon appetite!

  2. Kathryn Shane says:

    I so enjoy your writings and greatly appreciate all of your efforts for the animals, for the environment, and for the general sanity of society. Being part of that effort myself, I feet the peace and warmth that your afternoon in Quebec with like-minded friends brought you. We all need that communion with like-minded souls. Unfortunately, for many of us, the train ride is too long and we don’t get the respite we need often enough. That’s one of the roles you fill with your posts….a like-minded friend in this world of resistance, insensitively, selfishness and denial. With thanks.

  3. jotyler says:

    Glad you had a chance to get reinvigorated by spending time with some like-minded people! That is so very important. As I wrote here, I believe that the hardest part about being vegan has nothing to do with food…and everything to do with other people.
    http://www.thisveganlife.org/the-hardest-part-about-being-vegan/

    Dealing with the constant stream of hostility, apathy, defensiveness and willful ignorance can really wear a person down. But spending time with thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate people can build us back up again. So good for you for taking some time to recharge….!

  4. KathyLovesKale says:

    We hope that you always know that you have a community behind you who are so appreciative that you DO go toe to toe with the “ornery” (I would use a less attractive word 🙂 in such an eloquent and intelligent way.
    Great that you got some respite and reprieve!

  5. Jamie Berger says:

    I second everything said by previous posters. All I can say is thank goodness for the internet, because otherwise I’d be almost completely alone. Jo, thanks so much for sharing your post; it really spoke to me and I feel exactly the same way.

  6. Jean-Philippe Royer says:

    Thank you James for these nice words. We should do this again next time you’re in Montreal. Cheers!

  7. Provoked says:

    I’m so glad you had a chance to wind down and relax a bit. If it could be possible… You’ll become a better advocate for it! Thanks for all you do – All the time!

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