Emily Thompson, Toronto Vegetarian Association Festival Coordinator

Elevator pitch of your job description

I am the Festival & Events Coordinator for the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA).

As an event planner, my job ranges between; vendor coordinator, marketing guru, customer service specialist, and sales manager. Basically, if there’s a small detail or huge project that contributes to our events, I handle it!

Describe the work of the Toronto Vegetarian Association

Our mission is to promote a more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating.

The TVA offers resources through our storefront resource centre (open Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 9pm and Saturday from 1pm to 4pm at 2nd floor, 17 Baldwin Street) and website. The site includes tips on where to buy various products like vegan-friendly clothing and beauty items, and is a hub for nutritious plant-based recipes.

We recently launched a new Business Directory and Veg Guide which allows users to discover a variety of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and business throughout the GTA. This app is available for iOS and Android now, so check it out!

The TVA also moderates multiple social groups throughout the city including: Vegetarians in their Twenties, Toronto Veg Families, and Vegan Baking Group.

The Toronto Vegetarian Association has been inspiring people to adopt a greener, more compassionate lifestyle for over 60 years. This has been possible through the work of hundreds of volunteers, a dedicated board of directors, and a small group of staff. There are currently three full-time employees (Executive Director, Donor & Volunteer Coordinator, and Festival & Events Coordinator – me!) working at the TVA. Our team collaborates to arrange large city-wide events including the Toronto Veg Festival!

What organizations does the TVA work with?

Photo: Toronto Vegetarian Association

I know that Veg Fest is North America’s largest vegetarian food festival, how did we manage to beat out hubs like NYC or LA?

We’ve been around for ages! In fact, 2017 will be the 33rd year of the Veg Food Festival. Because of this popular event, the TVA has been able to form a huge community of new and returning attendees. Thanks to social media, the word gets out much easier than traditional marketing. I think that the seniority of the organization has cultivated a large following, in fact, people travel from all over the world to check out the show!

We’re very lucky to live in a multicultural city like Toronto that is open and accepting of different lifestyles. Never judge someone by what’s on their plate, just ask if you can have a bite!  

Photo: Toronto Vegetarian Association

Why is the Veg Fest so important?

Of course food, but there’s so much more to it. The Veg Food Festival captivates such a large audience (over 40,000 people attended last year and it keeps growing) that aren’t just vegans or vegetarians.

The free, outdoor event allows individuals to explore different culinary options and invites the veg curious to learn more about the health benefits and environmental impacts of a vegetarian/vegan diet. We also host amazing speakers to discuss a variety of topics ranging from Easy Vegan Baking with Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie to Dr. Michael Greger who published How Not To Die which highlights issues around the current food industry.

We welcome a ton of local vendors like YamChops Vegetarian Butcher, King’s Café, and Fresh City Farms. This marketplace provides attendees with a stress-free opportunity to connect with vendors to learn about their products and why adapting a veg lifestyle is so important.

Another huge aspect of the Veg Food Fest is that it is a free event which makes it more accessible for everyone!

Photo: Toronto Vegetarian Association

The Veggie Food Fest is a huge event that takes months of planning. What other events and activities does the TVA promote year-round?

  • From May 5th to 21st we will be hosting Veggielicious (The TVA version of the ever so popular Summerlicious / Winterlicious). Click here to visit our pop-up market at Artscape Sandbox on Sunday, May 7th from 11am-7pm.
  • The TVA’s Vegan Bake Off just celebrated its 9th year of tasty competition. On March 19th, 50 home bakers and professional bakers at Wychwood Barns! Participants and judges taste unique vegan treats and vote for their favourites. This is an awesome volunteer-run event that always creates a buzz!
  • The TVA arranges Sanctuary Tours with farms based in the GTA including Campbellville (with a tour on April 23rd) and Uxbridge (coming up in June). For more information about attending a Sanctuary Tour, click here.
  • We participate in outreach events and festivals that are relevant to our community like The Green Living Show, The Total Health Show, and The Yoga Show

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me about your exciting position, Emily!

I have a few questions about your own personal culinary exploration now…


Name three items that are always in your shopping cart

  • Avocados
  • Mangos
  • Bananas

What is something you would never buy at the grocery store?

I try not to buy packaged goods. I’m trying to live the zero waste life (you go girl!).

What is one ingredient you’ve always wanted to try: I want to try this herb call Asafoetida. It’s a spice used in Ayurvedic cooking which is good for cleansing. Ayurveda is a form of Indian medicine.