Category Archives: News & Events

November 1st is World Vegan Day!

By Carolyn Harris

(A similar version of this post was originally posted
on Carolyn’s vegan advocacy blog.)

World Vegan Day takes place every year on November 1st, and the entire month of November is World Vegan Month.

The annual celebration started in 1994 on the 50-year anniversary of the first meeting of the Vegan Society in the UK, which took place some time in early November 1944.

According to the Vegan Society’s website, “In a natural progression, World Vegan Day evolved into World Vegan Week and now, what we celebrate as World Vegan Month, where vegans and veganism is celebrated in workplaces, shops, restaurants and in homes all over the world.”

In November 2017, to commemorate World Vegan Month, the Vegan Society will be releasing a new app called VNutrition, which helps people achieve their nutrition goals on a vegan diet. They also will be launching a new campaign called “Vegans on the Go”, which will aim to get more retailers to serve on-to-go vegan lunches, and it sounds like they will be doing some other exciting things during the month, as well. You can check out the World Vegan Month webpage here; here is their Facebook Page.

Of course, every day is a good day to advocate for a vegan lifestyle, but this special day is an especially useful opportunity to raise awareness about the “why’s” and “how’s” of going vegan, as well as to celebrate the lifestyle and those who follow it!

Here are some ideas of ways we can make a difference on World Vegan Day and throughout the month of November:

  1. Obviously, if you aren’t already vegan, please go vegan. You can take The Vegan Society’s 30-day Vegan Pledge to help you go vegan as quickly as possible!
  2. Share the Vegan Pledge with your friends and family, on your blog, and/or on social media.
  3. On November 1st, why not wish the people in your life a happy World Vegan Day? It may help spark conversations that could lead them to consider going vegan.
  4. On social media and/or your blog, share something related to veganism and/or World Vegan Day. For example, you could share your own story of why you went vegan; a picture of a vegan meal you made; a link to the Vegan Society’s website; a vegan recipe; or even just a quick post saying “Happy World Vegan Day!”
  5. Host a vegan meal or potluck for family, friends, your workplace, and/or your local community. If it’s a potluck and not everyone attending is already vegan, make sure that everyone knows to avoid using any animal-derived ingredients in the food they bring; it can be helpful to ask people to bring an ingredients list.
  6. Perhaps you could go leafleting, and wish passersby a happy World Vegan Day!
  7. You could even help organize a talk from a vegan speaker or a vegan-related movie screening.
  8. Bring vegan food to work or school, and share it with your peers.  You could just casually share it with them, or you could set up a table in a busy place where people can take the free vegan food and literature on veganism.
  9. Try to get World Vegan Day or World Vegan Month recognized by your school or workplace. They could introduce a vegan menu in the cafeteria starting in November, for example (if there isn’t enough time for them to plan out a complete vegan menu in time for World Vegan Day, they can still start working on it by November).
  10. If you’re a writer, write a letter to the editor, Op-Ed, or vegan recipe and submit it to a newspaper or magazine.

Have a great World Vegan Day and Month!

NCVA’s 2017 Annual General Meeting Tomorrow on September 30th!

Hello everyone! Just a final reminder: the NCVA’s 2017 Annual General Meeting is happening tomorrow on 30 September 2017 in the party room at 101 Richmond Road in Ottawa, from 1-3 pm. There will be free sweet and savory treats, as well as chef Rob’s vegan chili, for any members who attend!

Only current card-holding members of the NCVA can attend the AGM, so if you are not yet a member, please consider joining by heading over to our membership page.

Our official announcement of the AGM, with information on how to run for the board or get in touch with us, can be found here.

The NCVA’s September AGM is Approaching!

Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that the NCVA’s 2017 Annual General Meeting is coming up on 30 September 2017 in the party room at 101 Richmond Road in Ottawa, from 1-3 pm. There will be free sweet and savory treats, as well as chef Rob’s vegan chili, for any members who attend!

Only current card-holding members of the NCVA can attend the AGM, so if you are not yet a member, please consider joining by heading over to our membership page.

Our official announcement of the AGM, with information on how to run for the board or get in touch with us, can be found here.

Front-of-Package Nutrition Labelling: Stakeholder Meeting

The Canadian government is developing new regulations that would require front-of-package labelling for foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

This image, from the consultation document (by the Food Directorate) found on the Government of Canada’s website, is titled “Figure 1: Examples of FOP “high in” symbol under consideration by Health Canada“.

Canada Front-of-Package Labelling

 

Front-of-package labelling is an issue that may be of interest to many health-concerned people. It is specifically relevant to vegans because most of the foods that are high in saturated fats are animal-derived; however, foods that are high in sugars may or may not be vegan, so more research would need to be done to determine if these new labelling requirements would actually benefit animals.

The consultation is now closed, but if this is a topic that interests you, you might want to check out the live-streaming of an upcoming meeting with stakeholders on the subject. You can get your free tickets on Eventbrite.

Have a nice day!

The NCVA’s Vegan Potluck for August!

Please join the National Capital Vegetarian Association at our next vegan potluck on August 12, 2017! The potluck runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Just like the last couple of times, the potluck will be held at the new location— the party room at 101 Richmond Rd in Ottawa. Please note that the room capacity is 30 people. It costs $2 for NCVA members, $3 for non-members, and $1 for children to attend. All are welcome!

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!

Hope you can make it!

You can find Facebook event page by clicking here.

 

Our Voices Are Being Heard!

By Carolyn Harris

(This blog post is also posted on Carolyn’s personal advocacy blog.)

Many of you may recall that last year, Health Canada was holding Phase 1 of its public consultation on revising Canada’s Food Guide. Canadians were invited to submit their opinions and experiences with the Food Guide using an online form on http://www.foodguideconsultation.ca. In total, 19,873 submissions were received (although participants were able to make submissions more than once). Of those, 14,297 were from the general public, 5,096 were from professionals, and 461 were from organizations (the NCVA was one of those organizations!). Now, several documents have been released, including one reviewing the input that has been heard from the Canadian public; an “Evidence review for dietary guidance”; and a proposed description of “Guiding Principles, Recommendations, and Considerations” for healthy eating.

These documents are very encouraging for those of us who are working to spread the vegan/plant-based/vegetarian message! I am saving the best news for later on in this blog post (under the subheading “Guiding Principles”), but I recommend that you read the whole post to get a more complete picture of how the proposed dietary recommendations relate to plant-based eating.

Public Input from Phase 1 of the Consultation

First, let’s look at the document, “Canada’s Food Guide Consultation – Phase 1 What We Heard Report”.

Happily, veganism, vegetarianism, and plant-based diets are mentioned in the document a few times!

The document can be found in full on the Government of Canada website. Below, I have included 7 excerpts from the document that mention veganism, vegetarianism, and related issues.

1) When asked how useful the current Four Food Groups were, participants expressed the following: “Current food groupings (such as Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives) were considered useful, to at least “some extent”, due to their simplicity, however less useful to some because of their departure from the nutritional components, lack of applicability to all circumstances and needs such as for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle or dietary restrictions.” (found in Section 4.0)

2) “Other personal interests in healthy eating recommendations that were mentioned by participants include:

  • improving the health of all Canadians in general;
  • having a focus on dietary choices such as vegetarianism and veganism;
  • managing food intolerances/allergies;
  • disease management/managing health conditions, such as diabetes;
  • concerns about the environment or animal welfare;
  • support for educational study; or
  • to aid their own involvement in a social or community group related to personal wellbeing, such as:
    • a healthy lifestyle
    • fitness
    • weight loss” (found in Section 5.1)

3) “Participants were very positive about the prospect of revisions to Canada’s Food Guide. For some, the current format offers a simple way to structure thinking about healthy eating and encourages Canadians to think about healthy eating principles. Others felt that the current recommendations are misleading and that revisions would be helpful to ensure the recommendations are useful to a broader audience.” (found in Section 5.2)

4) “Generally, participants from the public, professionals and organizations felt that dietary guidance should cover a broad range of needs. Feedback received from contributors on potential content of the guidance included:

  • more focus on audience specific recommendations, particularly for those with lower incomes, elderly Canadians and children;
  • inclusion of guidance addressing a range of lifestyle choices/dietary restrictions; and,
  • more details related to the nutrient requirements for positive health outcomes, such as a focus on macronutrients and micronutrients essential for health.

A few participants also commented on a need for broader changes to the food industry beyond guidance materials to more specific policy changes to improve the health of Canadians by limiting options that negatively affect human health.” (found in Section 5.2)

5) “Many general public participants indicated that the current food groupings were useful to them, to at least “some extent”. They often cited the simplicity of the groupings as a good foundation for building awareness of healthy eating habits. Others felt the groupings were not useful due to their:

  • departure from the nutritional components (micro and macro nutrients) in foods essential for positive health outcomes; and
  • lack of ability to apply the groupings to all circumstances and needs, such as for:
    • vegan or vegetarian lifestyles
    • other dietary restrictions” (found in Section 5.4)

6) “A greater emphasis on (or de-emphasis of) certain foods was recommended by participating professionals as a way to improve the usefulness of the food groupings. For example, some contributors suggested this could include:

  • a greater emphasis on vegetables, rather than fruits; or
  • a de-emphasis of meat or milk” (found in Section 5.4)

7) “While there are mixed perspectives, both positive and negative, on the value of Canada’s Food Guide in its current format (including the content and recommendations specifically), many general public and professional/organizational participants agree that Canada’s Food Guide may no longer be reflective of the increasingly varied diets of Canadians today.

There are different, more varied food types on the tables of Canadians than ever before, due to the rise of trends, such as:

  • community gardening;
  • gluten-free products;
  • an emphasis on whole foods and plant-based diets; and
  • the greater variety of traditional cuisines of Canada’s multicultural population.

There is a call for healthy eating recommendations to be expanded to:

  • reflect this greater variety;
  • provide a basis of scientific evidence;
  • provide more details to Canadians about the foods they are consuming; and
  • create guidance to inform healthy eating behaviours.” (Section 6.0)

It seems that the government is starting to hear the logic of our movement. That’s not all the good news, however. There’s more!

“Evidence Review for Dietary Guidance”

The document “Evidence review for dietary guidance” does not mention plant-based eating, vegetarian diets, or vegan diets. However, they did make some comments about how some people are concerned about industry influence on Canada’s Food Guide:

“Another reported challenge was that there remains a perception among some groups of consumers and organizations that food industry representatives exerted influence on the development of the recommendations in the Food Guide. This adversely affects the credibility of the guidance from a scientific standpoint in the eyes of these stakeholders.” (Page 5 of the PDF)

I wouldn’t be surprised if concerns raised by vegans about the influence of the meat, dairy, and egg industries on the Food Guide are part of the reason why Health Canada makes this statement. I myself expressed this concern in my Op-Ed on the Epoch Times’ website last year.

Guiding Principles

Health Canada has also released a document outlining the proposed Guiding Principles, Recommendations, and Considerations for healthy eating.

Here is a summarized description of the principles:

(Source: Government of Canada)

A detailed description of the Guiding Principles is also available on the Government of Canada website. The word “plant-based” is used 6 times in the Guiding Principles document, and in 5 of those times it is used positively! Here are 4 excerpts from the document that mention plant-based food:

1) “Health Canada recommends:

  • Regular intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein-rich foods* – especially plant-based sources of protein
  • Inclusion of foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat, instead of foods that contain mostly of saturated fat
  • Regular intake of water

*Protein-rich foods include: legumes (such as beans), nuts and seeds, soy products (including fortified soy beverage), eggs, fish and other seafood, poultry, lean red meats (including game meats such as moose, deer and caribou), lower fat milk and yogurt, cheeses lower in sodium and fat. Nutritious foods that contain fat such as homogenized (3.25% M.F.) milk should not be restricted for young children.”

Note that plant-based sources of protein are mentioned first on the list of protein-rich food sources! It looks like the plant-based/vegan/vegetarian message is doing better than many of us may have thought!

2) “What is needed is a shift towards a high proportion of plant-based foods, without necessarily excluding animal foods altogether.”

While the second part of this sentence may initially seem a bit disappointing, they do seem to be making progress in the right direction. Also, consider the fact that Health Canada actually mentions the idea of excluding animal products altogether; the way they phrase the sentence (“without necessarily excluding” (italics added by me)) makes me think that they don’t think that excluding animal products is at all far-fetched.

3) “A shift towards more plant-based foods can help Canadians:

  • eat more fibre-rich foods;
  • eat less red meat (beef, pork, lamb and goat); and
  • replace foods that contain mostly saturated fat (e.g., cream, high fat cheeses and butter) with foods that contain mostly unsaturated fat (e.g., nuts, seeds, and avocado).

To help meet these recommendations, Canadians can choose nutritious foods and beverages, including:

  • foods and beverages that require little or no preparation such as fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit, canned legumes or fish, tofu, plain milk or fortified plant-based beverages;
  • foods and beverages that are pre-packaged for convenience (such as pre-washed salad greens, pre-cut fruit) or to increase shelf-life (such as powdered milk);
  • foods like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocado, and vegetable oils instead of foods like high fat cheeses and cream; and
  • foods obtained through gardening, hunting, trapping, fishing and harvesting.”

Apart from the last bullet point and the recommendations of fish and milk, and, I am encouraged by with the progressive thinking in terms of plant-based eating that is demonstrated here.

4) “In general, diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods are associated with a lesser environmental impact, when compared to current diets high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat.”

Overall, I am quite impressed with the receptiveness to vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based eating that the government has shown in this first phase of the consultation. However, there is still definite room for improvement.

Next Steps

Our job is not over yet!

Phase 2 of the public consultation is being held from June 10 untilJuly 25, 2017. In this new phase, Canadians are being asked to submit their input on the proposed Guiding Principles for healthy eating.

I have already submitted my input. Although I did suggest that plant-based eating be further emphasized (and that meat, dairy and other animal products be further de-emphasized), I chose to focus my comments on the positive aspects of the proposed new recommendations, as they appear to be a major improvement from the current Food Guide. I want to encourage the government to keep the progress they have made, at the very least. It is likely that many groups will be submitting their comments to the government on the proposed recommendations, so it is important for vegans and vegetarians to speak up and let the government know that we care about this issue.

 

You can submit your comments at www.foodguideconsultation.ca. Thank you for caring!

Links:

Canada’s Food Guide Consultation – Phase 1 What We Heard Report

Evidence Review for Dietary Guidance: Summary of Results and Implications for Canada’s Food Guide

Summary of Guiding Principles and Recommendations

Guiding Principles

Canada’s Food Guide Should Recommend a Vegan Diet (my Op-Ed)