Foodie factions

Creating communities around food

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

Niche food-based lifestyle groups in Winnipeg tend to connect like-minded people who have similar dietary lifestyles.

Mark Lo Scerbo has been a member of the Winnipeg Vegan Meetup for six years, and he says it has had an impact on how he lives his life as a vegan.

“I didn’t cook much before the meetup. I ate a lot of takeout from V.J.’s and other burger joints,” Lo Scerbo says. “I attended a few meet-ups where the members gave me cooking and shopping tips. The members answered all my questions.”

Lo Scerbo says his life has changed since becoming vegan and joining this group. 

“Grocery shopping has become my favourite activity,“ Lo Scerbo says. “Trying new recipes at home and supporting restaurants offering vegan items is fun.” 

Lo Scerbo, now an admin of the group, tries to support new vegans in the way he received support when he first joined.

He says that these groups, such as the Winnipeg Vegan Meetup, bring together a diversity of people.

“I’ve made many friends from all walks of life,” Lo Scerbo says. “People of all backgrounds attend meet-ups: general labourers, doctors, nurses, artists, actors, business people, politicians, machinists, teachers.” 

The meetup has more than 600 members.

“Going vegan was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Lo Scerbo says.

Lo Scerbo says that being vegan is a lifestyle because it involves more than just diet. 

Linda Haddad is a member of the Raw Food in the Peg Facebook group and owner of Valley Pantry Organics, an organic grocery store.

“I think it’s really both,” Haddad says about a raw food diet and lifestyle. “Your diet is part of your life.”

Haddad says she doesn’t eat exclusively raw, but incorporating herself into an organic food community means having support to eat healthier with less pesticides and food grown using unnatural practices.

Haddad says that Raw Food In The Peg has given her more insight and ideas in pursuit of her dietary and lifestyle choices. 

“From a business perspective, I love getting to meet people and help them to gain access to more items,” Haddad says. “I love being able to find deals that we can all benefit from.”

However, Haddad says that the more than 200 group members haven’t been particularly supportive of her grocery store. 

She says they haven’t been receptive to the idea of Valley Pantry Organics when she posts on Facebook about it.

Regardless, Haddad says it is great to share ideas and knowledge, and give each other, as individuals, support and to support the raw food movement as a whole.

“I have met a lot of great people in my journey that I would not have otherwise,“ Haddad says.

Published in Volume 70, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 4, 2016)

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