Tag Archives: health

“Eating You Alive” Documentary Screening and Q&A on November 21, 2017

On November 21, 2017 from 6-10pm at St. Paul’s University, the NCVA will be hosting a screening of Eating You Alive, a documentary about the link between chronic disease and nutrition, and how a plant-based diet can help to prevent and reverse certain chronic diseases. The event will include a talk and a Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Purdy, MD, and Susan Macfarlane, RD.

Tickets are $5 each and can be bought through the Eventbrite Page.

Here is the schedule for the evening, as I found it on the Eventbrite Page:

Featuring leading medical experts and researchers, Eating You Alive takes a scientific look at the reasons we’re so sick, who’s responsible for feeding us the wrong information and how we can use whole-food, plant-based nutrition to take control of our health—one bite at a time. Trailer: https://goo.gl/8JLL7B

6pm – Dr. Jennifer Purdy GP and Susan Macfarlane RD will open the evening with a short talk. Dr Purdy will speak to the link between chronic pain and diet.

Dr. Purdy is a family medicine doctor in Ottawa. She has a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell, and she is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Susan Macfarlane is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in plant-based nutrition, eating disorders, weight management, and sports nutrition.

6:30pm – Screening of EATING YOU ALIVE (1hr 50mins).

8:30pm – Q&A / Dr Purdy and Susan will address concerns and questions until 10pm

Please bring your own bottled water. The Green Door is across the street, on Main St, if you’d like to eat before arriving. It offers plenty of vegan options.

Join us at our screening of “What the Health” on May 24, 2017!

On May 24, 2017, the NCVA (in partnership with Strawberry Blonde Bakery) will be screening the documentary What the Health!

You may have heard about this documentary before– it’s by the creators of the well-known documentary Cowspiracy. What the Health is about “the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick”, according to the documentary’s website.

After the documentary screening, there will be a panel discussing the issue further.

For more information on the event and to get your tickets (admission by donation), please see the Eventbrite Page. Additionally, you may wish to share the event through the event page on Facebook.

Canada Food Guide Consultation

Health Canada is consulting with the public as part of the revision process of the Canada Food Guide. They’re encouraging Canadians to fill out an online questionnaire about what should be changed about the Food Guide and the way it is presented.

Currently, the Canada Food Guide doesn’t even mention vegetarian or vegan diets. If you think that the Food Guide should do more to accommodate and emphasize the benefits of a plant-based diet, why not tell them that in their online public consultation survey? This stage of the consultation will remain open until December 8, 2016.

Here are some quotations that you may wish to give in your responses to the open-answer questions:

  • Dietitians of Canada: “A healthy vegan diet has many health benefits including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”
  • American Dietetic Association: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
  • World Health Organization: “Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids.”
  • A study conducted by students at the University of Oxford found that if the world went vegan, millions of human lives would be saved due to dramatic reductions in the incidence of chronic disease: “A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (U.S.). … They found that adopting diets in line with global dietary guidelines could avoid 5.1 million deaths per year by 2050. Even greater benefits could come from vegetarian diets (avoiding 7.3 million deaths) and vegan diets (avoiding 8.1 million deaths).”

You may also wish to suggest that Health Canada look at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “The New Four Food Groups”.

Carolyn

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!

12 Gift-Giving Ideas You Can Feel Good About

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With the winter holidays fast approaching, you’ve probably already started thinking about potential gift options for the special people in your life. For most of us, it feels great to be able to give someone you care about a present that you know they’ll love. But it feels even better when you can feel good about where that gift came from.

Thankfully, as more and more people become conscious of where they shop and what they shop for, we’ve seen the advent of countless new companies and products that use sustainable practices. So whether you’re a vegan and/or a hardcore environmentalist, or you’re just trying to be a little bit more ethical in your shopping habits, you shouldn’t have to look too far to find gifts that align with your values.

The following is a list of great cruelty-free gift ideas, many of which are local, that you can feel good about purchasing.

1. Bath and body products: If you want something that’s made here in Ottawa, Sud With Me has a range of natural, vegan personal care products (and all of the profits go to the Sit With Me Dog Rescue, so it’s a win-win!). Purple Urchin is another independent, Ottawa-based company that sells natural soap and skincare products. There’s also Druide, which is based in Quebec, and Lush of course. If you’re feeling creative you can even try your hand at DIY homemade bath and body products – there are endless ‘recipes’ available online on sites like Pinterest.

2. Books: There are so many fantastic books out there that can educate people about how to live more ethically and healthily. A few examples include the Ecoholic books by Adria Vasil; The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual by Natasha Kyssa, owner of Ottawa’s Simply Raw Express; Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina; or Vache à lait: Dix mythes de l’industrie laitière by Élise Desaulniers.

3. Cookbooks: If you need a gift for someone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, some of the most popular plant-based cookbooks on shelves at the moment are Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders: Easy Everyday Meals from Around the World, Nava Atlas’ Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes, Mayim Bialik’s Mayim’s Vegan Table: More than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours and Emily von Euw’s Rawsome Vegan Baking: An Un-cookbook for Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Beautiful and Sinfully Sweet Cookies, Cakes, Bars & Cupcakes.

4. Homemade treats: Who doesn’t love a batch of something homemade? You could make vegan peppermint bark, gingerbread cookies, Turtle oatmeal cookies, magical coconut bars, peanut butter fudge or snickerdoodle cookies. Put your goodies into a nice tin, jar or gift box, add a bit of ribbon and a bow and voilà – you have an inexpensive and one-of-a-kind gift that’s perfect for the sweet-lover on your list.

5. Experiential gifts: Want to avoid giving someone a “thing”? Plan an outing to the theatre (try the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa Little Theatre or The Gladstone, La Nouvelle Scène) or a museum or gallery. Or, organize a short trip to a nearby city or a wellness retreat, such as Sugar Ridge in Wyebridge, ON or Shanti on Wolfe Island, near Kingston, ON.

6. Eco-friendly items for the home: Help your family members and friends be kind to the planet by giving them something useful and sustainable, such as a set of mesh produce shopping bags, a reusable silicone baking mat, stainless steel or cast iron cookware, biodegradable dishes and utensils or napkins, placemats and sheets made from hemp, linen or organic cotton. If you need more inspiration, Terra20 has a holiday flyer with tons of other great ideas.

7. Tea and coffee: There’s nothing like a steaming cup of your favourite brew to warm you up on a cold winter’s day, so why not put together a selection of sustainably-sourced teas and coffees? Stash has a line of organic, fair-trade teas and Angela Liddon, who’s based in Toronto, has just opened the Oh She Glows Tea Shoppe, featuring a range of delicious-sounding organic, loose leaf tea blends. Bridgehead sells organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffees and organic, fair-trade teas. Adria Vasil (known for her Ecoholic book series and website) recommends the Jane Goodall Institute Blend coffee, which is organic, fair trade, shade-grown, bird-friendly and Rainforest Alliance Certified. In Gatineau, the Cha Yi Tea House offers a vast selection of organic and natural teas and herbal teas. Daniel, its owner, travels each year to Asia where he  buys high quality teas directly from small tea farmers.

8. Ready-made meals: If someone on your list is perpetually short on time, they may appreciate receiving food that’s already prepared. Erika LeBlanc has a 100% vegan catering company, appropriately named Erika’s Vegan Catering, which offers salads, entrees and desserts that feed 6 or 12 people. You could also have a restaurant or take-out place deliver food to a friend’s house regularly for a while to save them the trouble of having to cook every night.

9. Themed gift baskets: Assembling your own baskets can be a lot of fun because you can create unique gifts tailored to the people on your list. If you have a friend who’s obsessed with all things chocolate for example, pick out an assortment of nice, cruelty-free chocolate bars, hot chocolate mixes and chocolate-covered snacks like pretzels and raisins and put them into a decorative basket. Add some tissue paper and a little ribbon and you’ve got a fancy, thoughtful gift that your friend will love (and the basket and tissue paper can be reused).

10. An evening out, on you: If you need a gift for someone who already has everything, you might want to pick up a gift certificate for a veg or veg-friendly restaurant. The Table, Café My House, Simply Raw Express and The Green Door are great all-veg establishments. Popular places with good vegetarian/vegan options include A Thing for Chocolate, The Manx Pub, The Daily Grind and Oz Kafe.

11. A donation to a good cause: No matter what your loved ones are passionate about, chances are there’s an organization dedicated to it. If you’ve got any animal lovers on your list, consider making a donation in their names to the Sit With Me Dog Rescue, Hungry and Homeless Cat Rescue or Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary (all local) or the Humane Society International or Mercy for Animals Canada.

12. An NCVA membership: Belonging to the NCVA will not only bring your gift recipient into a supportive community of people who follow a plant-based diet, but it will also give them access to great discounts on a wide range of veg-friendly foods, products and services.

If you’ve got other ideas for ethical gifts, please share them in the comments below!

Becoming (and Staying) Vegetarian

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When I tell non-vegetarians or vegans that I don’t eat meat or fish, they usually respond in one of two ways: they either look surprised (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes less so) or they say that they’re impressed, because, while they like the idea of vegetarianism, they don’t think they could ever do it. The reality is though, it’s not hard to make the transition if you’re committed to it.

It probably seems as though I’m preaching to the choir here – and to an extent, I am. But given that October is Vegetarian Awareness Month it seems like a good time to share some tips for those who have perhaps ‘flirted’ with vegetarianism or those who like the concept but aren’t sure if they’re ready to actually become vegetarian.

These tips are based on my own experiences with giving up meat. I became vegetarian in 2010 after thinking about it for several years, and was happily surprised that it was easier than I thought it would be. (I made the transition to veganism in early 2014 and will cover that in a separate post.)

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you’re already veg and you have other suggestions, ideas or personal stories to share, please post them in the comments below.

Tip 1: Know why you’re doing it.

There are many good reasons to go veg, whether it’s for moral reasons or because you want to improve your health or lessen your carbon footprint. Taking the time to think seriously about why you want to be vegetarian is important, since there may be times when you feel like giving up and it will help to remind yourself of why you made the decision to go veg in the first place.

Tip 2: Decide on an approach.

Some people stop eating all meat and fish immediately, while others opt for a more gradual approach. I personally was worried that I might relapse if I gave it up overnight, so I decided to eliminate one animal from my diet at a time. I eventually became vegetarian after several months of cutting out animal products and experimenting with vegetarian recipes. I suggest that you do whatever feels right for you.

Tip 3: Look for alternatives to staples in your diet.

If you consume a lot of meat/fish or have favourite dishes that include animal products, it’s not a bad idea to find substitutions so that you can still enjoy foods you know you like. For example, there are some very convincing ‘faux meats’ that are popular among many vegetarians and vegans (like products by Yves or Field Roast) and meat alternatives like soy, tempeh and seitan. If you’re used to having spaghetti and meatballs, try adding lentils or roasted vegetables to your pasta instead. Used to having turkey on a sandwich? Hummus is a great alternative. It may feel like a bit of hassle at first but I promise, there are so many delicious vegetarian options out there that you won’t feel like you’re missing out.

Tip 4: Do your homework.

A lot of processed/pre-packaged foods contain ingredients that are not vegetarian, or that may come from non-vegetarian sources. You’ll have to carefully check labels for things like gelatin (found in marshmallows and gummy candies, for example), shellac (common in candies with a shiny coating), anchovies (in Worcestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing), rennet (in some cheese/dairy products), carmine (used as a colouring agent), stearates (like calcium or magnesium stearate) or any derivatives of glycerine (like mono and di-glycerides, which are found in most commercial bread products). Some of these ingredients can be derived from plant sources, but more often than not they are not suitable for vegetarians. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of asking questions in restaurants. Although almost every menu has at least one vegetarian option, seemingly innocent items like soup are often made with animal broths.

Tip 5: Talk to your friends and family about your decision.

This is especially important if most of the people you’re close to are omnivores. I recommend telling the people in your life about your new dietary preferences and your reasons for becoming vegetarian, since they will likely want to know the reason for the change and may wonder what you expect from them. Ask them to support you in your new lifestyle and suggest ways to make the transition easier for everyone. For example, you may need to be a little more involved in planning the menu for your next family gathering, or you could offer to prepare something the next time you go over to a friend’s house. Ultimately it will be up to you to work out the logistics (it will be more of an issue for some people than others) but it’s usually a discussion worth having.

Tip 6: Pay attention to your body.

Most people seem to feel great after ditching meat and fish from their diet. Before long, you should start to see and feel positive changes in your body such as increased energy, easier digestion, deeper sleep and of course, a clearer conscience if you’ve gone veg for non-health reasons. However, it’s important to make sure you’re eating balanced meals and getting the right nutrients (this goes for everyone, regardless of how they eat). If you start to notice any negative changes that don’t clear up on their own, like low energy levels or significant weight loss, it may be worth seeing a doctor or nutritionist. Eating a variety of fresh, whole foods should leave you feeling strong and healthy, but you may need or choose to supplement your diet with extra doses of vitamins and minerals like iron, B12 and calcium.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to vegetarianism but don’t feel ready to give up meat/fish completely, just do what you can at first. Some people do meatless Mondays, or follow a weekday vegetarian diet, or make 2 out of 3 meals each day vegetarian. Every little bit helps your body, the planet and the animals. And when you’re ready to fully commit to being vegetarian, you’ll already know which vegetarian meals you like and which restaurants in your area offer good veggie fare.

Stay tuned for another article with tips on becoming vegan, coming soon!