All posts by pamelatourigny

NCVA annual general meeting on Sunday, Aug.12

Want to have a say?  Get involved, and attend the NCVA’s Annual General Meeting.  As a 100% volunteer-driven organization, our activities depend on your involvement.  Details are below.

Note: This was sent out by email to our membership on June 14 (and by snail mail to members without email).

The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) will be holding its fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, August 12 at 2 p.m. It will take place at 134 York St. (Condo building) in the Common Room (press separate “common/party room” buzzer when arriving to gain entrance). We will review the achievements we’ve made since the last AGM and look towards the future of the NCVA.

All people who have purchased NCVA memberships between August 13, 2011 and August 12, 2012 are entitled to attend and to vote in the AGM. If you are uncertain as to your eligibility, please email our membership coordinator at You may still become a member between now and August 12 and attend the AGM.

As per our bylaws, there will be an election of the board of directors and nominations are currently being accepted. Nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m., August 5. Only NCVA members in good standing may be nominated or make a nomination. You may not nominate yourself. There are up to five director positions open, all of which are one-year terms.

It is strongly preferred that only those who have experience volunteering with the NCVA be nominated for board positions.  (NOTE: The deadline for nominations has passed, and we are no longer taking new nominations).

It would be very helpful if you RSVP’d your attendance to, as we need a certain number of attendees to make quorum.

Thank you for supporting the NCVA’s efforts to make Ottawa a more veg-friendly place.


The NCVA Board

The bunnies of New Moon Rabbit Rescue urgently need your help

The NCVA is publishing this guest blog post for the hard working volunteers with New Moon Rabbit Rescue.

By New Moon Rabbit Rescue

New Moon Rabbit Rescue is facing a crisis.  Nothing could have prepared us for the demand we’ve been up against this summer and we are all feeling the crunch.  Demand for rabbits needing help is astronomically high, and public support has not yet risen to meet it.

As a rescue, our biggest challenges have always been getting and keeping foster homes and raising funds primarily to cover medical costs for the rabbits that come to us.

We’ve gained a lot of support over the past six years and grown a lot as a rescue and have been able to save hundreds of rabbit lives.  We are grateful for the unwavering support of the community, but also realize that we must extend our reach in order to be able continue doing what we do and continue being able to give these rabbits a second chance.  We need your help to be able to help them.

Each neuter costs the rescue $130-215, while each spay costs $205-300.  Only a very small fraction of rabbits who come to us are already spayed or neutered, and as we have an average of 45 rabbits coming into rescue per year, we are looking at quite a high cost every year for spaying and neutering alone.  And that’s for a completely healthy rabbit, which many are not when they arrive!

You can donate in many ways, such as Canada Helps (, Paypal ( or Email Money Transfer through your bank account (  All donation information can also be found on our website.  You can also send a cheque to PO Box 24 North Gower, ON K0A 2T0 or stop by one of our upcoming events.  You will receive a tax receipt for any donation of $10 or more if you provide your name and address.

Fosters urgently needed

For us, just like many animal rescues, foster homes are a constant uphill battle.   If we had 10 foster homes, they would be full at any given point in time and if we had 50, they would also be full.  The more foster homes we have, the more rabbits have a chance at life and to know the love and compassion most don’t know is out there.  Many of the rabbits who come to New Moon are “last chance” animals that would otherwise be euthanized.  When you foster, you are saving a life!

We ask you today to please considering fostering a New Moon rabbit. We need you and more importantly, they need you. They are waiting to show you how wonderful an experience fostering is!

Fostering is an extremely rewarding experience.  Most of these rabbits have spent their lives confined to a tiny cage and do not know the joy of human companionship or have spent months to years in shelters waiting for a forever home that never comes.  It is beautiful to be able to see a shy rabbit unaccustomed to humans or one that has only had bad experiences with people flourish into a loving companion.  To teach a rabbit that they can play, run, interact with their human caregivers and simply be safe and loved, is a most beautiful experience.

All they ask is for love while they await adoption.  All we ask is that you provide them with an appropriate diet, sufficient play time, a clean, healthy environment and socialization.  We are happy to provide farm fresh mixed grass hay and the “start-up” supplies you need (cage, litter box, bowls).

You can foster for a short time or indefinitely – it is up to you!  Don’t worry if you have dogs, cats, guinea gigs, rodents or reptiles – many of our fosters are avid animal lovers with multiple pets!  We are flexible with our foster homes and don’t mind if you don’t have previous rabbit experience as long as you are willing to learn.  Fosters are always welcome to adopt if you meet that special somebunny that changes your life!

Please get in touch

You can find all the information you need on fostering for us at our website and you may also email us at

If you cannot adopt, foster.  If you cannot foster, donate.  If you cannot donate, share this with your friends.  Everyone can make a difference and be a bunny hero!

Free vegan pizza this Tuesday night

I try to exert my vegan influence on most people I come into contact with, and in no case is that influence stronger than with my husband, Yves.

He knew when he got involved with me that veganism is a huge part of my life (um, it touches every single meal!) and has embraced it in his own diet (he calls himself “vegan by marriage”), and taken it upon himself to learn about it and understand the issues.  His label reading skills are nearly as strong as my own!

Filming the Top This! promo video.

Likewise, I have tried to give his board gaming hobby a shot, sitting through long nights of games during which I am badly beaten, struggling to understand up to three new sets of rules in an evening (and refusing to play Agricola, an animal husbandry game).  It’s a give and take thing.

When he told me he was developing a pizza flicking board game, I frowned. “Well, what are the toppings?”  I asked. The pizza was cheeseless, he said, but there was pepperoni.  Ok, well that could be vegan pepperoni easily enough.

But Yves decided to take it a step further. What if he created a “veganized” version of the game, with a bonus set of spinach tokens? Would “my people” be interested in something like that?

I wasn’t totally sure. I mean, these are the same people who will spend $8 on a small clamshell package of vegan marshmallows, and $12 for a pint of vegan ice cream. But would they support a vegan-by-marriage in his attempt to design and sell a pizza-flicking board game?  Only time will tell.  It’s the only game Yves knows of that is actually designed and marketed with vegans in mind— so maybe consider supporting it!

Top This! is a quick dexterity game for which players flick wooden “pizza topping” pieces onto a pizza-like game board in order to fulfill orders. Top This! is aimed at families, and gamers.  It is currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter.  (You can contribute by clicking the link and following the procedure to back it.) Crowdfunding is being used to generate interest in the game and to fund its production. If enough people support the project, the product will be produced.

The game’s publisher, UniForge is hosting a Top This! Peekaboo Pizza Party at The Grand Pizzeria & Bar (74 George Street) to give people an opportunity to try Top This! on Tuesday July 3rd from 5:30-7:30 pm. Everyone is invited to attend.

There will be free pizza- including vegan pizza. There I go exerting my vegan influence again!

The Top This! crowdfunding campaign runs from June 6 to July 22, 2012. Special bonuses are in place for overfunding goals, giving backers additional incentive to encourage others to back the project.

Hope to see you there!

Better late than never- NCVA Vegan Challenge winners!

We’ve been pretty lousy at blogging lately, but that sometimes happens when life outside of the NCVA takes over.  Also, I was without my computer for a while because I spilled water on the keyboard. But I digress. I know the reason you’re all reading is because you’re dying to know who Ottawa’s Next Top Vegans are! You are not alone.

On June 1 we held the celebratory party for the successful NCVA 31-Day Vegan Challenge participants at The Table Vegetarian Restaurant.  Not everyone could make it, but it was still a fun night.  We ended up having 34 people successfully complete the challenge!  And those are only the ones who actually told us. There could be more.

Chantal Nantel was honoured for collecting the most points throughout the challenge, and Angela Bingley, Dale Delahunt, and Jonathan Coit walked away with kick-ass gift baskets.

We’d like to offer a huge THANK YOU to our challenge sponsors and contributors who made the whole thing much more fun–and delicious!

B. Goods Bakery

Credible Edibles

Learn to Be Well

Lori Weinstein- Independent Arbonne Consultant

Louise Charbonneau- Independent Arbonne Consultant

Maitland Massage

 Mother Earth Natural Health

Notre petite ferme – Our Little Farm

Ottawa Good Food Box 

PranaShanti Yoga

Sanray Crafts

SimplyRaw Express

Wellness Warrior Coaching

and of course!!

The Table Vegetarian Restaurant

NCVA participation in Glebe Garage Sale canceled

Just a quick note to advise that the planned NCVA fundraiser at the Glebe Garage Sale has been cancelled.

Please contact Hopeful Hearts through, or Ecology Ottawa ( for an alternate donation venue, if you have items that you planned to contribute and still want to donate them somewhere.

Thank you to those who came forward with offers of baking and salable merchandise.

Your baked goods and junk needed for the Glebe Garage Sale!

We are proud to announce that we will once again participate in the Great Glebe Garage Sale on May 26, 2012 from 9 am – 3 pm, by hosting a yard sale / vegan bake sale in support of  Project Jessie and the Ottawa Food Bank.

Look at last year's spread

75 per cent of proceeds will be donated to Project Jessie and 25 per cent will be used to purchase and donate healthy vegan food items to the Ottawa Food Bank.  Items that can’t be sold will be donated to local non-profit thrift stores.  Project Jessie works to protect companion animals that may be legally surrendered to research facilities after 72 hours in a shelter in Ontario.

But to do this we need your help! We need your junk, and your baking prowess.  Last year we raised nearly $900 for the causes, and people were going wild for our vegan goodies.  Show us what you’re capable of!  This is a fabulous opportunity to not only raise money for two great causes, but also to showcase your baking skillz.   Note that all baked goods must be vegan (free of all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and honey). If possible, please provide an ingredient list with your baked goods.

We’ll need volunteers on Saturday from 7 am-4 pm to set up, take down, and run the sale.  If you can come for even part of the time, that would great.  It’s a lot of fun, and you get a chance to talk to a LOT of people about vegan baking and lots of good stuff.

We welcome ALL donations though, for obvious reasons, we won’t be able to sell things like fur coats. We have no strict definition of what is and is not appropriate for a NCVA sponsored yard sale – just use your own best judgement when deciding what to donate.

Finally, if you have tables, blankets, table covers, and / or coolers that we could borrow for the please bring those as well.  We will be sure to get them back to you!

Drop off Dates for donations:

Please bring baked goods and yard sale donations to 38 Clarey Ave (see directions below) on Thursday May 24 or Friday May 25 between 6 and 10 pm.  You can also bring your donations to us on Saturday morning from 8-11am (email for location).

Directions to Drop-Off Location:

Clarey is located off Bank Street between Fifth and Lansdowne Park.  Number 38 is halfway down the block on your right (the house with the big tree).


If you can’t make one of these drop off dates please email us at and we can try to arrange another pick-up or drop-off time.

Please spread the word among your family and friends and feel free to email us with any questions or for directions to the drop-off location.

THANK YOU in advance for your generosity!

Tofu tips and starter recipes from the 31-Day Vegan Challenge

So every few days, the Vegan Challenge participants get an informative email that shares recipes, tips, and other info.  In fact, they have been so informative that even I- a vegan of nearly eight years- am learning new things with each new email!  I thought, is there any reason why these should not be shared with everyone else?

What follows is an excerpt from the welcome email that was sent to Vegan Challenge participants by organizers Krista Mayer and Marc Charron.


Not so delicious.

Although some of you may already be familiar with it, we had to start with a classic veg delight – tofu! Tofu is a very versatile cooking ingredient. It can take on and absorb the taste of many of your favourite dishes, so your options are almost endless…You can also try other delicious soy products like tempeh and miso.

Tips on Cooking Tofu:

  • Delicious.

    Use firm or extra firm tofu for most recipes. Excess water may be squeezed out to make the texture even firmer.

  • An adult serving size is about ¼ of a block of tofu.
  • Some sources say that raw tofu should be steamed for 5 minutes to kill bacteria.
  • Silken tofu is already cooked before packaging, so it can be used without any prior preparation in things such as smoothies and desserts.
  • To store unused tofu for up to a week, completely submerge it in water and keep in the refrigerator. Be sure to change the water daily.
  • For longer periods of time, try freezing your tofu. This will change the texture and the colour but don’t worry – it’s normal and safe to consume. Simply defrost and squeeze out excess water before using.
  • Fried Tofu: Slice firm tofu in 1/2 x 1″ pieces, marinate in soy sauce 5 minutes, then fry both sides until crispy. This can be placed into pasta, rice, casseroles, stir fries, etc…Tofu can be marinated in any sauce you love. Add garlic or ginger (or any other favourite) to tailor the taste of the tofu to your liking.


Easy Tofu Recipes:

(The title for each recipe links to the original recipe source. These are not original NCVA recipes.)

Tofu Salad

We just tried this recipe the other day and it was delicious!

Serves 4


1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 (16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and diced

1 cup snow peas, trimmed

2 small carrots, grated

1 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts


1. In a large bowl, mix the chili sauce, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Place tofu in the mixture, and marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Immerse the snow peas in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then immerse in a a bowl of cold water. Drain, and set aside.

3. Toss the peas, carrots, cabbage, and peanuts with the tofu and marinade to serve.



Lime Curry Tofu

You can use this recipe as a stir fry or throw it into a wrap instead.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons peanut oil (can substitute with other oil)

16 ounces extra firm tofu (cut into bite sized cubes)

1 tablespoon ginger root (minced fresh)

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 lb zucchini (diced)

1 red bell pepper (diced)

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons maple syrup

14 ounces coconut milk

½ cup fresh basil (chopped)


1. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until golden brown.

2. Remove the tofu and set aside, leaving the remaining oil in the wok.

3. Stir the ginger and curry paste into the hot oil for a few seconds until the curry paste is fragrant and the ginger begins to turn golden. Add the zucchini and bell pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute.

4. Pour in the lime juice, soy sauce, maple syrup, coconut milk, and tofu. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, and cook a few minutes until the vegetables are tender and the tofu is hot.

5. Stir in the chopped basil just before serving.


Peanut Sauce Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu

Serves 4


1 tablespoon oil

1 small head broccoli, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

5 medium mushrooms, sliced

1 (12 -14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, cubed

1/2 cup hot water

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

cayenne pepper, to taste

3 cups cooked rice


1. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, hot water, vinegar, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. (Don’t worry if sauce is not entirely blended; heat will melt the peanut butter into a smooth texture when added to wok.)

2. Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté broccoli, pepper, mushrooms, and tofu for 5 minutes.

3. Pour peanut sauce over vegetable-tofu mix. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and crisp.

4. Serve over rice, and enjoy!

Vegan Challenge-taker shares her story… and her chocolate cake!

The following post was written by one of the NCVA’s 100+ 31-Day Vegan Challenge takers.  Thanks so much to Killashandra for taking the time to share her experience with us!

By Killashandra Rashid

Killashandra, and the one piece of vegan cake that was left after her friends got into it.

A few days into the vegan challenge, I was sitting with my friends, a bottle of red wine, pasta tossed in a homemade tomato sauce packed full of veggies with a side of garlic bread. For dessert, some vegan cheesecake. Every last thing was carefully prepared or purchased vegan. Not too shabby.

I think I can do this.

Don’t get me wrong, in the last week, I’ve read more food labels than in the past five years! There have been a number of surprises along the way as well. It’s pretty disturbing to see some of the innocent-looking food that animal products sneak into. People keep saying that going vegan means planning and, for that reason, I completely agree. It’s a good thing I love food.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, you have to love food to easily go vegan. If you’re not used to spending lots of time thinking about and preparing food, then being vegan would be a tough transition, I think. Personally, as a poor student, I’ve been planning out all my meals for the last year to maximize my food budget. This planning, that started out as purely practical, slowly shifted the way I think about what I put into my body and got me curious about food and recipes. Eventually, new recipes became exciting and challenging to me. Cooking, especially baking for friends and family, became a hobby.

So, when I ran into the NCVA at the Women’s Show in Ottawa a couple weeks before Veg Fest and they suggested the challenge, it more exciting to me than daunting. Getting to play with new ingredients, in new and creative ways, paired with the ethical and health reasons to make the change, made the challenge too good to pass up.

My experience so far has been great! By investing the extra time in planning, I don’t feel particularly deprived or limited. Eating out, with friends and family, has been the main challenge. While many restaurants have vegetarian options, vegan options are far more difficult to come by. It is also surprising how few places can confirm what may or may not be going into the food they serve.

Vegan chocolate avocado cake

These drawbacks, however, are well worth it. I feel great. I have more energy and don’t feel as heavy and lethargic after eating some meals. Whether that is due to the change in diet or a placebo effect related to it, I can’t be sure, but that doesn’t really matter too much to me. The most important thing is that I’m quite happy with my choice to take up the vegan challenge. Because of this challenge, I’m doing something I never would have fathomed just a few months ago. I’m considering going vegan for good.

I haven’t decided one way or the other yet, mostly because of the impact that it would have on my friends and family who find it difficult to eat with me now that I’m participating in the challenge. Regardless, I have plenty of time before the challenge is over figure it all out and I fully intend to make the most of it!

Best of luck to all the other challenge-takers!

SimplyRaw Express opening + ZenKitchen pub night delights!

After years of anticipation and hard work on the part of its proprietors, Natasha Kyssa and Mark Faul, SimplyRaw Express opened its doors today (Saturday, May 12), becoming the latest addition to Ottawa’s thriving vegan restaurant scene.

SimplyRaw Express is a fresh juice bar and takeaway, located at 989 Wellington St. West in Hintonburg. It offers organic juices and smoothies, raw vegan dishes, quinoa bowls, delicious desserts as well as culinary workshops, detoxification and nutritional programs. Its food is completely vegan, as well as soy and gluten-free. The best part? NCVA members get a 10 per cent discount off of all food and drink purchases at SimplyRaw Express.

The NCVA got a sneak peek at the new café on Friday evening, along with other local notables and media personalities, and it is fabulous.  Word on the street is that there was a steady line up all day today, its first official opening day. Natasha and Mark sure know how to generate buzz!

“Our association could not be more pleased that longtime supporters Natasha and Mark have finally made SimplyRaw Express a reality,” says NCVA president Josh Flower.  “I know I’m looking forward  to enjoying the healthy variety of fast food that SimplyRaw Express offers, and I am excited to see how the Ottawa community will embrace the concept. This is a great day for vegans and non-vegans alike.”


A few weeks ago we posted about the ZenKitchen pub night that the NCVA was coordinating. Well that happened on Thursday evening, and it was a huge success.  Twenty-one people attended the event, and it was a great mix of old and new.  But what was really phenomenal was the food.

Chef Caroline surprised us with a three-course pub-style plated dinner.  The first course was apple slaw with a breaded butternut squash risotto ball, followed by the entrée, which was a platter of goodies including panko-crusted onion rings, BBQ seitan fingers, salad rolls, kale chips, tofu dengaku with miso apple butter glaze, and a box of french fries for each participant!  As if that wasn’t enough, dessert came in the form of a decadent brownie topped with ice cream, coconut whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.

All of that for $25.  We kid you not.  $25.

“I have to say, Chef Ishii and the ZenKitchen team really outdid themselves,” says President Flower.  “The ZenKitchen pub night was beyond our expectations. It was also a real pleasure to meet and chat with some of the unfamiliar people who came out. Overall, the evening was a tremendous experience!”

Stress stewardship is the first key to living with energy

Here’s a guest blog post from Ashley, who has volunteered for the NCVA and is now a certified health coach.


By Ashley White

“You seemed stressed out, have you been getting enough rest?”

Ashley White

If this question irks you ask much as it irks me, then you may be among those people who get that stress is complex, multi-factorial and is a function of more than just “enough sleep.” Historically, human stress is the result of threats from predators or lack of food, water, shelter or space, and even disease. These stress triggers either made earlier humans ‘fight’ – take that, sabre tooth! – or ‘flight’ to address the stress.

In order to summon the super human energy it took to fight or escape, the evolution of a physiological chain of events occured, orchestrated by the central nervous system. The objective of that chain? Bring as much glucose and oxygen (and other fuels) to the major muscles and organs. Who loses in this tug of war? The digestive system, which does not get the blood supply required to do the mulching, churning and breaking down of food particles that it must to in order to get fuel to the cells.

The fight or flight response is both short lived and results in the release of the cortisol hormone. In our modern ecology, human stress is less likely to require a major physical response – going for a run seems like a counter intuitive way to meet a project deadline, no? Well, yes. But, no. Cortisol does not discriminate. Our central nervous system has not yet evolved enough to tell the difference between the sabre-tooth and the big deadline at work. So, either way, stress involves a cortisol respnse. And, unlike with the tiger, where the stressful event ends in death or escape, modern stresses can be so darn complicated and never-ending. Thus, soon, the right amount of cortisol becomes too much, and the cortisol “on switch” gets stuck. This makes proper sleep hard to come by.

What’s the problem with that, you ask? Cortisol promots fat storage (a throwback to those long, food insecure caveman winters) and can be moderated only through diet, exercise and stress stewardship. Typically, in periods of prolonged stress, we are inclined to spend more time at our desks, move less and borrow energy from coffee and energy drinks. Eating at your desk to meet a 3 p.m. deadline, then washing it all down with espresso? Pretty much the worst approach. Even if you’re noshing on quinoa tabbouleh with a green juice, because your body is in stress mode, not digestion mode, the benefits of the food cannot be realized.

So, how do you handle a stressful afternoon deadline? Take your lunch break to go for a brisk ten minute walk, have an easy-to-digest green non-dairy smoothie with some healthy fats (avocado is the creamiest!) for your afternoon meal, sit after your meal in a quiet reflection, and then get to work. If you need a extra kick, make like an Argentinian and sip yerba mate, which stimulates without burdening your adrenal glands. I can guarantee that your productivity will soar and you’ll leave the office ready to go dancing or hopping about with your children.

This, my friends, is stress stewardship. Stress stewardship is a concept I developed that is contrary to stress management in that it presupposes that stress is a good thing, and it’s not going away, no matter how rich, thin or happy you become. So, get inside your stress and realize that unlocking your stress stewardship code is the first key to living with energy.

Ashley White is a certified health coach with a Master of Public Health. She is the Founder of Learn to be Well, and is offering a four week workshop called Rethinking Stress & Energy, starting May 9 in collaboration with Santosha Yoga Westboro.