Friday, October 26, 2012

Vivez Nature

I met another Aurelia at a veg event recently. She's a fellow vegan parisian who loves animals and cycling. (How many of us are there?!) Aurelia's day job is at an farmed animal-rights group, and on evenings and weekends, she sits on the board of the French vegetarian society, serving as their media liaison, among other things.

Last week we met at a little bar in Montmartre to talk shop, and Aurelia told me about an upcoming event in Paris called Vivez Nature. It's billed as a "Salon d'Agriculture Biologique" (organic agriculture expo) and sounded a lot like a smaller version of Expo West, a giant trade show I used to attend when I worked at VegNews. So, this past Sunday--a gloriously warm and sunny Indian summer day--I pedaled over to La Villette see how the French do this sort of thing.

It started off with an exciting bang: The first booth I laid eyes on was Sea Shepherd's. Cool! Next was an organization dedicated to educating the world about the environmental hazards of palm oil cultivation. I had a great conversation with a woman at that booth and came away thinking "I'll never eat Earth Balance again--for the gibbons!" It's depressing to think about how deforestation for selective crop growing effects primates and other animal (and plant) species throughout Borneo and the rest of Indonesia. Heartbreaking, but worth investigating.

After this somewhat interesting start, things slowed down to a boring crawl. The animal rights booths gave way to a bland series of essential oil vendors, soap stalls, and book booths selling hundreds of titles on various esoteric subjects, all seemingly written by the same author (?), among them "Urinotherapie." (I don't really even want to know what that is.)

Things became mildly interesting again when we got to the food aisle; here we found superfood chocolate, vegan cookies, natural wines, and organic breads made from non-GMO grains. Like every other event I've been to where free samples were being handed out, the masses descended upon the poor folks doing the distributing like famished zombies, spawning copy-cat behavior in everyone within grabbing distance.

I finally caught up with Aurelia at the Association Vegetarienne de France booth. She was mobbed, too. A wonderful sight to see is a mass of French people crowded around a booth offering information on veganism, animal rights, and environmental issues.

This isn't an event I'd pay to attend, but I'm glad I went, if only to have tasted this delicious palm oil-free, eggless noisette flour cookie made with vegan chocolate chips. Miam!


  1. How amazing to meet another Auriela who is like you :-)

    1. Hi, Anne! I know: Weird, isn't it? You don't meet a lot of Aurelias here; usually they're Aurelie (or, if it's a guy, Aurelien). I love the uncanniness of it all!

  2. You had me at "Urinothérapie"! lol Thanks for the interesting wrap up and the great photos. And congratulations on your new friend. :-)

  3. I didn't know about palm oil! Is this link a crock of palm oil?
    what do you think, you investigative journalist, you!
    I always appreciate your humorous and fresh accounts of life in the big city. Or as they say in Santa Cruz, "somewhere besides here."

    1. Yes!!! It is a crock of palm oil. How can you "offset" killing animals? It doesn't make sense to me! I think Earth Balance can do better than that.


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