All posts by Carolyn

Ecology Ottawa’s Eco Gala

On Thursday, November 17th, 2016,  Ecology Ottawa will be holding its annual Eco Gala, a night of food, networking, and entertainment  at the St. Elias Banquet Centre.

According to the Ecology Ottawa’s website,

“The 2016 Eco Gala will include the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dr. Dianne Saxe, as our guest speaker, a delicious meal prepared by the Green Door, a silent auction and an opportunity to connect with the people and community groups growing the environmental movement. This event sells out every year and for 2016, we plan to have over 550 guests attend!”

This year, the NCVA will be sending 4 of its members to the Gala for a discounted price of $70 per person (the usual rate is $75 per person). Vegan food, prepared by the Green Door, will be served!

If you are interested in attending, please make sure you’re a member of the NCVA (that is, that you have a membership/discount card that is still current). If you are a member (or if you sign up for membership as soon as possible), you’ll be eligible to buy one of our discounted tickets for the Eco Gala! For more information about becoming a member, please click here.

To buy your tickets from us, please e-mail and pay via e-transfer to

Additionally, we are looking for volunteers who are not attending the event as guests but would like to help run the booth that the NCVA will have at the event. Contact us at to let us know if you are available!

A Healthier Halloween

By: Carolyn Harris

Halloween is nearly upon us, and some of us vegans are starting to wonder, “What type of Halloween candy (if any) am I going to hand out at my front door?”

There’s plenty of vegan-friendly Halloween candy available—many types of conventional chips and sweets are, in fact, vegan—and there are also some candy options that are specifically labelled as vegan and marketed towards vegans.

At the same time, however, many of us don’t want to encourage kids to eat any more junk food than they already will be eating on and after Halloween. There’s nothing wrong with a treat now and then, but nowadays, trick-or-treaters are often filling pillowcases full of candy on Halloween night, and I personally wouldn’t be comfortable giving them even more sugar-laden junk food. Often much of their Halloween candy ends up being donated or thrown away anyway, because their parents won’t let them eat such large amounts of junk food (and rightfully so!). For these reasons, I am much more in favour of handing out healthier treats!

So, what if you want to hand out healthier food to kids? Although kids may not be as excited to receive healthy food as they would be to get some candy, their parents will probably place the healthier snack in their school lunches anyway, so it won’t be wasted.

Here are some ideas of healthier foods to hand out on Halloween night:

  • little vegan granola bars
  • kid-sized cartons of fruit juice
  • little boxes of raisins (pre-wrapped in plastic, so that parents won’t feel worried about food safety)
  • healthier, more natural vegan candies, like TruJoy or Surf Sweets (see below)
  • oven-baked chips or another kind of healthier chips
  • other individually-packaged natural vegan snacks

Although handing out baked goods to strangers is a nice thought, keep in mind that if you hand out cookies you baked yourself to trick-or-treaters, they may be thrown away by parents worried about food safety, unless the parents know you personally. Handing out vegan baked goods to your friends, family, and neighbours is a great way to encourage them to try veganism, though!

Local options: I called some local health food stores to find out what vegan Halloween options they have in-store, and here’s what I was told…

  • Rainbow Foods on Richmond Road doesn’t have any vegan Halloween candy this year, but they do have TruJoy sweets, which are individually-wrapped organic vegan candies that would work well to be handed out to trick-or-treaters. They also have granola bars and other individually-wrapped snacks, some of which might be suitable for Halloween.
  • Whole Foods Market on Bank Street also sells TruJoy sweets, along with Surf Sweets—not all Surf Sweets are vegan (some of them contain gelatin), but some of them are vegan—just be sure to read the ingredients list before buying! Granola bars and other snacks can probably be found there, as well.
  • Kardish has individually-wrapped mini Camino dark chocolate squares (which are vegan), and they also have granola bars.

More options: Larabars are incredibly healthy bars made with natural ingredients. If you love Larabars and want to encourage others to eat them, you could hand out mini Larabars! A 12-pack of Larabars is available from Or, check out and search for vegan candy– they ship for free in Canada on orders over $29.

If you’re looking for more options, one vegan blogger from Nova Scotia has made a list of Halloween candies that are vegan-friendly. Some of them are healthy, and some are conventional Halloween candies. Her list can be found on her blog here.

And what if you’re having a vegan Halloween party or just want to celebrate Halloween with your family? Try making these spooky Halloween recipes from, or, if you’d prefer, try these ones from!

What will you be handing out on Halloween night? Let us know in the comments section below!

(Please note that the companies, products, and stores listed above are NOT in any way paying us to promote their products.)

Tomorrow is our October Vegan Potluck!

Hi there! Tomorrow (October 8, 2016) we will be holding our vegan potluck for October. If you love vegan food or just want to try something new, why not join us? The potluck runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Jack Purcell Community Centre in Ottawa. It costs $2 for NCVA members, $3 for non-members, and $1 for children to attend.

Please bring a vegan dish (that is, containing no meat, eggs, dairy/cheese, honey, or any other animal product) that serves 5 people, along with a serving utensil and a list of the ingredients in your dish. And don’t forget to bring your own plate, cutlery, and beverage!

These details can also be found on this event’s Facebook event page.

Hope you can make it!

“What A Fish Knows” Presentation with Jonathan Balcombe

This September, the NCVA will be hosting a talk by Jonathan Balcombe, ethologist and author of What A Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins. Dr. Balcombe will be speaking about the intelligence, social lives, and sentience of fishes. Join us in the meeting room at the Rideau Branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Thursday, September 29, 2016 from 7-8pm to hear this fascinating speech!

Admission to this event is free, and door prizes will be given out to a few lucky attendees.

Attendance is limited to 40. If you are planning to attend, please RSVP at

Giving Kids a Plant-Based Education

By Carolyn Harris

A new school year is starting, and kids are going to be learning about health and nutrition at school. Unfortunately, much of the nutrition information taught in schools today is based on Canada’s Food Guide, which is biased in favour of the meat, dairy, and egg industries. In fact, when the 1992 version of Canada’s Food Guide was released, the meat, dairy, and egg industries successfully lobbied the government to increase the recommended number of servings of these products. More recently, the 2003 version of the Food Guide was revised by a panel that included food industry lobby groups. More information on this subject can be found in this article.

With pizza days, Subway sandwich days, and milk delivery being considered the norm in elementary schools, it can be helpful for veg teachers and parents to take some time to teach their students and children about healthy plant-based nutrition.

Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence show us that people at all stages of life– including children– can be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet. Moreover, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to suffer from various chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and more. Raising kids on a plant-based diet, as long as it is done properly, is a great way to teach them healthy living, compassion, and sustainability– values that will guide them throughout their lives.

If you’re an educator or a parent looking to teach your kids or students about plant-based eating, there are many educational resources available. Here are just a few of them.

The Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) provides resources for schools that promote a healthy vegan diet. Elementary school students can enjoy these “Power Plate” colouring pages that illustrate the elements of a healthy meal, along with this word-search puzzle and extra colouring sheet.

Teachers and parents can educate themselves on the ins and outs of vegan nutrition for children in PCRM’s adorable “Nutrition for Kids” PDF booklet. (Seriously, the way they’ve styled the fruits and veggies is so cute– check it out for yourself and you’ll see what I mean!)

More materials to use in the classroom, including printable posters, can be found on PCRM’s “Resources for schools” webpage, and resources for parents can be found under “Resources for Parents”. PCRM also gives advice to those looking to introduce more vegan options in their cafeterias. Students can follow these tips, while parents and educators can find advice on the resources pages mentioned above.

For older (high school age) students, “The New Four Food Groups” poster can be printed out and distributed to students, or used as a wall chart.

The Vegan Society (in the UK) also provides resources that can be used in schools, such as vegan food guide posters that kids can colour. The posters can be ordered from The Vegan Society’s online store— each pack contains a black-and-white poster to be coloured in, as well as a full-colour poster, and on the back of the poster are nutritional recommendations.

The Vegan Society also sells a colourful vegan nutrition chart that shows from which foods one can get different vitamins and minerals– a great thing to have on the wall of a classroom, playroom, or kitchen to encourage kids (and adults) to eat a wide variety of vegetables and other healthy vegan foods!

In addition, vegan parents may find that getting kids involved in preparing vegan meals– and explaining in depth to the kids why the family is vegan– can help kids become committed to veganism in the long term.

What resources and strategies do you use to educate kids about plant-based nutrition? Let us know in the comments below!

2016-2017 NCVA Board of Directors

Earlier this summer, the NCVA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM), and the members who attended elected the new  volunteer Board of Directors. The Board Members for the 2016-2017 year are the following:

Dale (President)

Dale was born and raised in Ottawa where she is currently working as a Realtor.  She is formally trained as a Registered Nurse, and has a BScN from the University of Ottawa. Dale loves promoting a plant-based lifestyle for ethical, environmental and health reasons. She enjoys volunteering with the NVCA and training for triathlon during her spare time. 

Carolyn (Vice-President)

Carolyn is an artist, writer, and vegan activist in Ottawa, Ontario. She loves all animals, and has been an ethical vegan since 2010. She has been blogging about animal rights and veganism for several years, and has recently become more involved in other forms of advocacy. In addition to advocating for the rights of animals, Carolyn spends her time studying, writing, drawing, volunteering, and playing the piano, among other things.


Josée (Membership Coordinator)

Josée is originally from Sudbury ON, and moved to Ottawa in the spring of 2013 after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. She became a vegetarian in her teens for 10 years, and has been a vegan since the fall of 2012. Passionate about sharing the lifestyle, she blogs about veganism on multiple websites and volunteers with the NCVA.



Gwen (Treasurer)

Gwen Hughes was born and raised in Ottawa. She has been vegan for 8 years. She is currently completing the Business Administration – Accounting program at Algonquin College. Growing up with houses full of cats, dogs, and pigeons, Gwen developed an early love for animals of all kinds. She loves cooking, eating, reading, and spreadsheets.



Melanie (Secretary)

Melanie is a registered massage therapist who has done a few kinds of vegan/vegetarian outreach. She also has experience in animal fostering. She would like to invite all vegetarians and vegans of the National Capital Region to join the NCVA so we can become a stronger organization. We don’t have staff, so volunteerism is the heart of the NCVA. If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch with us. Melanie has a keen interest in promoting economic development of vegan food businesses and hopes to make this a priority during her elected term.




Robb has been involved in environmental advocacy for nearly a decade. He wanted to get involved in the NCVA after learning more about the interconnections between animal rights and social and environmental justice. He has experience in non-profit management, political advocacy, fundraising and community organizing. Robb spends his time volunteering, cooking great vegan food and recording music.
In addition, our new Honorary Board Member is Registered Dietitian Susan McFarlane.

The board members’ bios and e-mail addresses can also be found at .