VegFest London Updates

Festival Vendor Spotlight: Hoppy Hearts

Today we are featuring another one of our animal rescue vendors that will be taking part in VegFest London on November 14, 2015, Hoppy Hearts. We interviewed Founder, Kaylie McIntosh recently to learn more about this amazing organization. All of the photos in this post feature rabbits that are looking for a home. If you are interested in learning more about adopting a rabbit, click here.

What is the mission of Hoppy Hearts Rabbit Rescue?

Hoppy Hearts mission is to rescue homeless rabbits and find them new permanent homes. We also strive to educate the public on proper rabbit care as well about the lack of animal welfare and protection available for the domestic rabbit.

Flash & Mopsy - Adoptable Pair (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

Flash & Mopsy - Adoptable Pair (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

How did Hoppy Hearts begin?

Hoppy Hearts was inspired after the rescue of Mallory. The founder of Hoppy Hearts was at a live animal auction with a different rescue at the time and she found a rabbit in the sale that appeared to have a broken leg. Kaylie (founder) seen that the rabbit was not sold and had the owners surrender the rabbit to her at the end of the auction. This rescue opened up our founders eyes and she began to notice how very little support (essentially none) there was available to rabbits in the community. After parting ways with the previous rescue, Kaylie began the roots of Hoppy Hearts and became a voice for rabbits.



Can you share a highlight you've experienced since founding Hoppy Hearts?

Besides the first rescue of Mallory, the owner surrender of Ellie, the blue-eyed white dwarf/lionhead with head tilt (caused by a nerological parasite) stands out the most. She was one of the strongest, bravest and most adorable rabbits that you would ever meet. Anyone that met her or even just seen her picture fell in love. She was quickly adopted by our founder because of her health, and became the love of her life. Ellie faced many struggles, but fought through each one and lived life to the fullest. Sadly, she had to be humanly euthanized shortly after her first birthday, when a number of health problems arose and basic functions became too difficult for even this little fighter.

Stardust (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

Stardust (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

What does compassion mean to you?

Compassion to me means to love equally and to help those that cannot help themselves. The team behind Hoppy Hearts is compassionate about more than just rabbits. 3/5 of us are vegan, and all of us will help any animal in need if they need us.

Pebbles (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

Pebbles (Photo credit: Erin Woodgate Photography)

If someone's reading this and is interested in supporting Hoppy Hearts, how can they get involved?

There are many ways people can get involved with us. We are always looking for volunteers at events, we are in urgent need of foster homes, we have printable documents on the volunteer page of our website for anyone wanting to post information in stores for us. We are also looking to expend our executive team in London with like minded, crazy rabbit people who want to see better outcomes for rabbits in the community. We also accept donations in many forms.

What are you most looking forward to about this year's VegFest?

We are really excited to connect with the compassionate, animal loving humans of London. We also cant wait to eat delicious food all day.

For more information or to connect with Hoppy Hearts, please visit:


Festival Vendor Spotlight: Ralphy's Retreat

This year's VegFest London will feature 90+ vegan food, product, health, wellness, community group and animal rescue vendors. One of those animal rescue vendors you'll have the chance to connect with on November 14 is Ralphy's Retreat, a sanctuary for pot-bellied pigs & farm animals. We had a chance to interview Kara Burrow of Ralphy's Retreat and learn more about this amazing place.

What is the mission of Ralphy's Retreat?
Ralphy's Retreat is a registered not-for-profit corporation.  Our mission is:

  • to provide sanctuary to unwanted, abused and abandoned pot-bellied pigs and farm animals;
  • to educate about pot-bellied pigs
  • to promote a plant-based/cruelty-free lifestyle
  • to provide animal assisted therapeutic services to children and adults.

How did Ralphy's Retreat begin and what was the motivation behind it? 

We have been a sanctuary since 2004, but focused specifically on horses and donkeys.  We moved to our current location in 2010 with the idea of downsizing, as rescue is extremely hard on everyone involved and we needed a break.  We moved with 2 pigs and about 18 horses and ponies.  In 2012, we got a call about a pig in need and went to visit her.  Annie was in a terrible state of neglect and we didn't hesitate to bring her home. At this time we really became aware of the horrors faced by many pet pigs. 

In 2013, Ralphy showed up in the back of his owner's vehicle.  He was perfect and I couldn't say no when they asked me to give him a home!  Up until then, the horses had done all the therapeutic work but suddenly everyone wanted to spend time with Ralphy.  He was an amazing pig and he sadly died at the age of 18 months.  He gave so much to the people who visited us and we felt we had to do something to honor his life, so we reinvented ourselves!  We got a new name "Ralphy's Retreat" and made it our mission to help pigs in need.  Today we are home to 30 beautiful piggies!

Can you share a highlight with us, that you've experienced since starting Ralphy's Retreat? 

I feel very blessed to be sharing my life with pigs and there are so many highlights!  One of the greatest pleasures is seeing the joy on people's faces as they experience pigs for the first time;  and the a-ha moments "OMG, this is my bacon".  I will never tire of seeing a tail of an abused/rescued piggy wag for the first time.

One piggy who has touched my life in a big way is Susie.  Susie came to us in April 2015, unable to use her legs, lift her head or even eat on her own.  We had limited information on her background and what we had wasn't good.  Susie told us her own story:  she was terrified of people and would scream if anyone came near her.  Quality of life is a huge consideration for us and with the help of our vet, we made the decision to give her time to see if she would re-gain use of her body.  Susie is only 2 years old and has her whole life ahead of her, so we wanted to give her the best chance.  I spent weeks sitting with her and talking with her, I even sang to her (not the greatest of sounds!).  Eventually, Susie let me close enough to hand feed her and massage her body.  I will never forget the first day she let me touch her without screaming - it was a true honor to have her trust.  Today, with the help of our vet and chiropractor, Susie has regained the use of her back legs and is able to use one of her front legs.  She can also walk on her knees.  Recently, Susie hit another milestone when she started eating on her own.  Susie is a true inspiration to me and I am honored to have been able to help her learn that humans aren't all bad.

What does compassion mean to you?

Compassion for me is living a life that shows respect toward all living beings, from spiders to pigs to humans.

If someone's reading this and is interested in supporting Ralphy's Retreat, how can they get involved?

There are many ways to help us!  You can Volunteer or join one of our monthly Work Days.  You can sponsor a piggy, give a monetary donation or purchase some items from our wish list.  We also sell Ralphy's merchandise, calendars, and this year we have a cookbook coming out in conjunction with FrogHollow Farm.

What are you most looking forward to about this year's VegFest?

We love meeting like-minded people and introducing them to the pigs or sharing stories with other pig-lovers!

Be sure to stop by and say hi to Kara at the Ralphy's Retreat booth at VegFest London on November 14. 

In the meantime, for more information or to connect with Ralphy's:

Top 10 Reasons to attend VegFest London - #2

Sample and Enjoy Vegan Food 

That's right at VegFest London you'll get to sample and purchase delicious vegan food from a number of local and out of town restaurants as well as enjoy smoothies, raw juice and tea! 

Here's our awesome line up of vendors that will be offering food, drinks and samples and a sneak peak at what they will be offering - we like to think of it as an epic vegan menu: 

Veg Out Restaurant 

  • Apple Fritters
  • Pumpkin Curry & Rice
  • Sweet Potato Corn Bread


  • Taco Wraps
  • Spring Rolls
  • Superfood Cookies
  • Macaroons
  • Spiced Almonds
  • Kale Chips

Sweets from the Earth 

  • Vegan, gluten free, nut free, GMO free cookies, bars, squares, muffins, cakes and cupcakes

Organic Works Bakery 

  • Orgainc, gluten free, soy free, nut free breads and desserts
  • Vegan, gluten free, soy free pate 

Tamarine by Quynh Nhi Southern Vietnamese Cuisine  

  • Summer Rolls
  • Crispy Spring Rolls
  • Wok Tossed Tofu Noodles
  • Vegetarian Pad Thai

Zen Gardens 

  • Spring Rolls
  • Drumsticks & nuggets (soy)
  • BBQ and Veggie Buns
  • Sticky Rice
  • Crispy Curry

Bao Smoothies  

  • 100% natural exotic fruit juices in Acerola & Guava, Magosteen & Passionfruit and Pineapple & Coconut 

Eat What's Good  

  •  Kale Super Hero Salad (gluten free)
  • Twisted Thai Quinoa Salad (gluten free)
  • Ultimate Taco Salad (gluten free)
  • Black Bean Fudge (gluten free)
  • Good 2 Go Bars (gluten free)

Wellness Foods and Simply Protein 

  • Simply Protein Bar (gluten free)
  • Simply Protein Fruit & Nut (gluten free)
  • Simply Protein Chips
  • Simply Protein Veggie Bars

Chil Frozen Organic Yogurt  

  • Organic non dairy frozen yogurt 

Pulp & Press Juice Co.

  • Raw, cold pressed, organic bottled juices 

Vegan Hot Mess & Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary 

  • Vegan desserts & sweet treats and 100% of the proceeds will support Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary 

Top 10 Reasons to attend VegFest London - #3

Meet Community Groups & Organization working towards positive change

From access to local organic produce, to advocating for compassion towards animals and providing sanctuary to rescued animals, VegFest London will feature 20 community group vendors. 

If you are interested in learning more about healthy eating, access to organic produce, want to meet others in the vegan community or advocate on behalf of animals, visit the following vendors at the festival and learn how you can get involved. 

When we believe in something and want to make positive change, it's important that we vote with our dollars based on those beliefs and get involved. At VegFest London you'll have a chance to do exactly that and conveniently all in one place!

Here's a full list of community group vendors:

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary
Animal Outreach  
Toronto Pig Save 
Western Ontario Vegan Society 
Mercy For Animals Canada  
Toronto Vegetarian Association 
We Animals 
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Hoppy Hearts Rabbit Rescue 
Treats 4 Love 
London Food Co-op
Globally Local
In Motion Community Challenge 
Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP)
Food Not Lawns London Canada  
Saving Lives with Forks and Knives
Planting Seeds 
Vegup London 
The Nurturing Centre 
Urban Ecosystems 

What area of the community are you looking to get more involved in? What change would you like to be part of?

Comment in the section below and then connect with the community groups on Saturday, October 25 at VegFest London.

Top 10 Reasons to attend VegFest London - #4

Vegan Cooking Demo

Join Magaret Coons, Chef of London's popular all vegan restaurant Veg Out for a cooking demonstration. Margaret will show you how to make Eggplant Involtini, an easy vegan entree anyone can recreate at home with a few simple ingredients. All cooking demo attendees will receive the recipe and a sample. 

Admission is free and seating for the cooking demo is on a first come first serve basis. Be sure to stop by for the cooking demo from 
4:30-5:30 pm.