KNOWLEDGE POD: Winnipeg VegFest: Compassion for Animals and the Planet



Dr. Jason Hannan, Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Communication, University of Winnipeg
Dr. Jonas Watson, Winnipeg Humane Society

On September 16, 2017, the Farm Animal Compassion Committee of the Winnipeg Humane Society hosted Winnipeg’s first-ever VegFest, a one-day festival designed to foster compassion for animals and the planet. This event featured a vendors market, children’s activities, yoga, meditation, an art gallery, a hobbyhorse contest, and a mac ‘n cheese contest. However, the central feature of the event was a series of talks by prominent intellectuals promoting a unified message of compassion for all living beings. Winnipeg VegFest brought together a diverse group of people — animal activists, environmentalists, and health advocates — under one roof and one message. The event turned out to be an overwhelming success, with five times the expected attendance. In this presentation, we discuss the power of VegFest to greatly expand compassion for animals and reach new demographics.


  1. Intersectionality: Winnipeg VegFest brings together people who care about animals, the planet and people. A plant-based diet is a great way to unite these different groups under one large umbrella.
  2. Community: Winnipeg VegFest has built a community around compassion for animals and the planet. Concern for animals can be the basis of strong communal bonds.
  3. Join the Party: How do you get people to care for animals and the planet? It turns out that preaching isn't very effective. But creating a fun and lively festival is a great way to bring people into the movement.