Tag Archives: Veganism

Moving Towards a Vegan Option in Canada

By Carolyn Harris

Hello everyone!

I wanted to give you all a quick update. You may remember two of my previous blog posts, letting you know about a petition calling on the Canadian government “to require public canteens under federal jurisdiction to provide a vegan option, and to raise this issue and work with provincial and territorial counterparts to require the same at all levels of government.” In practice, this means that a vegan option would be required to be served in all public schools, hospitals, prisons, and other public institutions. This is an important step that our country can take towards animal rights and vegan rights. A similar law is already in place in Portugal.

I didn’t start the petition, but I signed it and mentioned it on my blogs because this issue matters a lot to me.

In total, the petition received 3106 signatures from the public, and it was presented to the House of Commons on February 7, 2018. The government’s response was disappointing—basically, they implied that they don’t plan on taking action on this issue.

Fortunately, however, the dedicated vegan advocates who are working on this issue are not giving up! A new organization, Vegan Option Canada, has been founded to advocate for this new law. Vegan Option Canada is currently running two versions of their petition: an official paper petition and an unofficial, supplementary online petition. You can sign both, as the signatures for each petition are counted separately. You can access the online petition directly by clicking here. Check out Vegan Option Canada’s website to learn more about this issue and to find a paper petition near you. Alternatively, you can order sheets of the paper petition so that you can collect signatures yourself!

I feel quite confident that this initiative can succeed. Let’s work together and make it happen!

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!

Petition to the Government of Canada Regarding Food Policy

Recently I found out about a new petition that was posted on the Parliament of Canada’s E-petitions website. The petition, which is being sponsored by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, is calling for all public canteens under federal jurisdiction to serve a vegan option (and for the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to implement this law at their levels, as well).

The main part of the petition reads, “We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to require public canteens under federal jurisdiction to provide a vegan option, and to raise this issue and work with provincial and territorial counterparts to require the same at all levels of government.”

Judging by the way that the petition is worded, it sounds like, if the petition becomes law, this could lead to hospitals, schools, universities, colleges, prisons, and other public institutions to be required to serve a vegan option. This would be a win for people who live a vegan lifestyle, for, as a matter of human rights, it is essential that vegans have access to vegan food.

Furthermore, this would help encourage more people to eat a vegan diet, and it could help to indirectly raise awareness about veganism and to help people realize what vegan food actually is.

In March 2017, Portugal passed a law requiring all public canteens (at hospitals, schools, prisons, etc.) to serve a vegan option. Canada needs a law like this, too!

Canadian citizens are able to sign the petition and read more about it here. The petition is open until November 29, 2017, at 2:32 p.m. EDT.

World Vegetarian Day: October 1st!

By Carolyn Harris

Did you know that October 1st is World Vegetarian Day (and the entire month of October is World Vegetarian Month)?

World Vegetarian Day takes place annually. It was created by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) in 1977, and in 1978, the day was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union (IVU).

Image from https://worldvegetarianday.navs-online.org/

Here are some things that you can do to make a difference for World Vegetarian Day and Month:

1) If you haven’t gone vegan yet, please do so now! You can take the Veg Pledge on the North American Vegetarian Society’s website.

2) Spread the word about World Vegetarian Day and World Vegetarian Month on your social media accounts with friends and family. You could post a link to the Veg Pledge, as well as vegan recipes, pictures of vegan food, and your personal story of going vegetarian/vegan.

3) Wish people in your life a Happy World Vegetarian Day and World Vegetarian Month! Whether you’re at work, at school, or somewhere else, it can be a good wa to start conversations about the vegan lifestyle.

4) Try leafleting, blogging, protesting, or another activity to promote veganism.

5) Host a World Vegetarian Day meal for family and friends (or co-workers, or classmates), or hold a potluck! (Just make sure everyone knows that the food that they bring has to be free from animal products.)

Have a nice day!

Interview with Kyle den Bak from PlantKind!

By Carolyn Harris

Kyle den Bak is a vegan athlete, personal trainer, and vegan nutritional consultant based in Ottawa. And what an inspiring athlete he is! Kyle has run over 5000 kilometres in a single year, has run the Boston Marathon on several occasions, has run marathons in less than 3 hours, and has achieved highly in ultra-endurance competitions.kyle-plantkind

Along with his personal athletic accomplishments, Kyle and his wife, Jane Kearnan den Bak, are the owners of PlantKind, a business through which Kyle offers personal training and nutrition coaching to his clients. Jane is creative director of PlantKind.the-plantkind-life

In this interview, Kyle explains how being vegan has helped him with his running, and he gives advice for athletes who are thinking about going vegan.

CH: How long have you been vegan? Why did you decide to make the switch?

Kyle den Bak: I have been vegan for 13.5 years. I decided to become vegan in my third year of university.

I read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation in one of my first-year courses. Until then, I had not given much thought to the animals we use for food, clothing, research and entertainment.

Singer introduced me to “speciesism”. This is the unjustified belief that humans have more value than other species simply because we are more intelligent.

It took me until third-year university to take the leap. One night with my roommates I watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie alludes frequently to the slaughter of food animals.

It’s an awful film. Leatherface treats his victims like cattle. To see human victims being treated the same way we treat other sentient beings had a strong effect on me. I went vegan the same day, and never looked back.vegan-pizza-pkl

CH: How has your vegan diet helped you with your running?

Kyle: It took me two years after reading Singer to go vegan. At the time, I was into heavy weight training. I thought I would lose all my size and strength giving up meat and whey protein.

I finally did it because I thought it was the right thing. I was prepared to sacrifice. But the real beauty of doing the right thing is that it’s not a sacrifice at all. It’s a joy.

And you know what? My health and fitness has benefited from all the amazing plant foods. My training and recovery have improved, not declined!

I am now a long distance runner and ultra-athlete who runs up to 5000 kilometers a year. I am competitive in my age group.  There is no way I could have done this on a meat-centered diet!

Everyone I know gets injured if they run as much as I do. Carbohydrate-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes give me endless energy. Nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory vegetables, berries and spices keep me injury free and speed up recovery.

rice-pkl

CH: What is PlantKind, and why did you decide to start offering these services?

Kyle: PlantKind is built on our inclusive philosophy. My wife Jane and I know that the world is on the verge of change. The vegan diet is growing exponentially. We want to be a source of inspiration and knowledge to everyone from the full-time vegan to the Meatless Monday dabbler.

We see any embrace of a more plant-centered lifestyle as a fertile seed for watering. We want to meet you wherever you are, and help you every step of the way with no judgement. This is where we got the name Plant “Kind”. We strive for kindness in our advocacy.

Everything we offer is geared to making the lifestyle fun and sustainable in a supportive way.

Our site www.theplantkindlife.com and Instagram page  revolve around lifestyle, fitness and nutrition.

As a fitness professional for over a decade, it’s only natural for me to offer personal training, nutrition and lifestyle services. I’m humbled by the success of my training and nutrition services, PlantFIT and PlantFUELLED, have been so far.pkl-food

CH: What are your favourite foods to have before or after a workout?

Kyle: The best food for athletic performance is fruit. Particularly sweet fruits like bananas, dates and mangoes are great before a workout to provide carbohydrates to working muscles. They digest quickly, and won’t sit in your stomach.

After a workout, fruit provides anti-inflammatory effects, helps to fight free-radical damage to speed recovery. Sweet fruit tops up muscle glycogen, keeping your immune system strong and fueling you for tomorrow’s workout.

berries-from-pkl

CH: What advice would you give to a fellow runner/athlete who is thinking about going vegan?

Learn what your energy needs are and discover creative ways to meet the demand! Plant foods are not as calorically dense as animal foods. The working body needs lots of energy to fuel and recover. A typical male runner of my size will need 3000-4000 calories a day or more. That’s a lot of plants!

Don’t try to get by on salads!

Always base your meals on healthy starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, whole grain pastas, legumes or oats. Fruit can also be an important caloric staple if eaten in large quantities. Athletes can’t afford to be modest with their portions on a vegan diet.food-from-plantkind

CH: What have you learned from your experiences with running a vegan business so far?

Kyle: First, be patient. PlantKind has been my side-hustle for over two years. It is just starting to pick up steam. You’ve got to just love what you do and keep nurturing it. As of April, PlantKind is going to be my full-time job! I’ll be doing what I love every single day.

Secondly, we are on the verge of a vegan revolution. When I went vegan 13.5 years ago, it was extremely rare. Everyone and their mother knows that a sustainable and compassionate future is plant-based.

Every single one of these people needs help and guidance. We need thought leaders, role models and experts in the local community. If you are thinking of running a vegan business, you can help give the revolution momentum. You can make a living while living your truth!

kyles-chickpeas

CH: What are your plans for the future?

Kyle: If you asked me a year ago, I’d tell you to make PlantKind a viable business. My belief in PlantKind is growing. I think it can be something even bigger.

I’d like to reach a wider audience. This would likely mean building a YouTube channel as well as offering more seminars and workshops to the wider public and publishing books. As one of the few experts in the field of vegan fitness, I want to have the biggest impact I can.

It’s those “aha” moments that people get when I talk to them that keeps me going. It’s like, I know I’ve planted a seed and it’s off to a good start. I just want to plant more of those seeds. Veganism is almost at its tipping point; we all just need to keep working and reaching more people.kyles-pancakes

All photos are courtesy of PlantKind. Best of luck as you turn PlantKind into your full-time business, Kyle!

 

 

Can vegans drink beer?

Well, the short answer is yes, they have the capacity to drink beer, and yes, they do drink beer, but I guess the real question is:

Is beer vegan?

And more generally…

Does my liquor have animal in it?

It may be somewhat painful for the vegan beer-drinking enthusiast to ask the question, but most vegans are in essence truth-seekers, and as such we like to know what exactly is impacted by the choices we make, particularly the food and drink choices. For example, some vegans do not eat cane sugar (of your standard white variety), since it may have been processed with charcoal made from animal bones (a.k.a. “bone char”). It would be logical to assume then that these vegans would also not be ok with drinking beer that contains dairy or honey, or is filtered using fish or eggs. Here are two examples of animal-derived products that are used to filter beers:

  • Isinglass is a common additive to beer used for filtering the yeast from certain beer so that it doesn’t look cloudy. It is made from fish bladders.
  • Glycerol monostearate (animal-derived) may be used by brewers to form foam (“head”) on a beer after being poured.

The good news is, there are veg alternatives to using many of the animal-unfriendly filtering methods, and there is a wide selection of beers that do not add honey or dairy or use animal products in their filtering methods. Not surprisingly however, finding out whether your beer has beast is not straightforward. Most companies do not advertise the animal or animal-derived products on their ingredients label and even if a beer is vegetarian, it is rare that it is touted as such. So avoiding animal products at bars and pubs becomes even more tricky. Thankfully, there are websites dedicated to helping you determine if your drink is truly vegan (e.g., Barnivore). If this concerns you, you may want to consider learning a sublist of vegan beers before a night out on the town with friends. It is highly not recommended to ask your bartender or server if the beer on tap is vegetarian. You will get blank stares from the staff and perhaps some mocking remark from a companion. (We haven’t gotten to that level of understanding just yet!)

In anticipation of our very exciting pub night coming up this Thursday, March 24 from 6:30pm-9:30pm at the Lieutenant’s Pump (361 Elgin St.)–dont you dare miss it–I have provided a selection below of beers offered at the Pump that are claimed to be vegan and others that clearly are not. This way, we will all feel comfortable on Thursday (and any future day) to drink, be merry, and most importantly, be veg!

Veg*n:

  • Heineken
  • Tankhouse
  • Mill St. Organic
  • Alexander Keith’s
  • Coors Light
  • Creemore
  • St. Ambroise
  • Molson Canadian
  • Labatt Blue
  • Corona
  • Carlsberg (Canada)
  • Stella Artois
  • Steam Whistle

NOT Veg*n:

  • Guiness
  • Smithwicks
  • Strongbow

I think if you get a domestic beer, you’re probably safe. It’s the imported beers (especially from Britain) that tend to be iffy.

Similar to the beer-making process, wine is clarified sometimes using animal products (like isinglass, gelatin, or egg albumen). Likewise, some liquors may have animal ingredients in them or be produced by using animal products for processing or filtration. Thankfully for liquor, it seems to be less common (e.g., compared to wine or beer).

Why I joined the NCVA

I’m still pretty new to Ottawa. It’s times like these when I attempt to get my feet wet in a variety of social scenes. Originating from Toronto, I was spoilt with the non-stop bombardment of social possibilities. Being vegetarian in Toronto was like being an official member of a popular club. Now in Ottawa, I’ve learned that to get my feet wet, I have to go to the water myself.

I was somewhat apprehensive at first, but mostly excited, to explore the world of the NCVA. Once I did, I realised that becoming a member was not only going to benefit me, but it was going to benefit many, and thus it was the right thing to do. Once I trained myself to stop calling the NCVA the “OVA” (which clearly doesn’t make sense from a vegan perspective), I was ready to fit in. That’s pretty much all it takes, because the organization is not-for-profit, volunteer-based, and vegetarian, whose mandate is to educate the public about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and more generally, to improve public health. This is one group that could easily mesh well with my own set of ethics and beliefs and, for that matter, anyone else’s. Whether or not you are vegetarian, promoting health of the greater public and of yourself is a worthy cause.

And then there’s the whole social aspect. I often feel alone as a vegan in a meat-eating world (shameless plug). Generally, going to work, socialising with acquaintances, friends, and family, doing the groceries, or whatever, I started to feel like I was the only vegan out there and no one would ever understand me anyway. It still baffles me that people still think it is ok to mock or slam vegetarianism right to your face, as if they can’t see how the derision is prejudiced and discriminatory. But then I attended a NCVA event and immediately let out a sigh of relief–Finally! a place where I knew that I wouldn’t be made fun of for being culinarily different or more ethically sound. It was like my own personal vegetarian haven, where like-minded people admire and support me and my vegetarian lifestyle.
 
There was also the fact that with the NCVA, part of my social life could align with my morality, which is a great coupling. Being veg was always a great way for me to show the rest of the world that I care about animals (and the environment, and my personal health), but I was presented with the opportunity to take it a step further. By joining the NCVA, I realised I was supporting the greater cause of promoting a plant-based diet to the rest of the world. I was chipping in, wearing the badge, taking a stand! Coming out of the proverbial vegetarian closet was great for my social life, but I hope it also made it that much easier for anyone else who wants to do the same. Supporting the NCVA arguably equates to an increased vegetarian presence in Ottawa and thus a happier, healthier city.
 
Finally, this was my way of giving back to the community. Although nothing beats the warm and fuzzy feeling got from my childhood teddy bear (Mr. Fuzzy Wuzzy, if you don’t mind), a close second for me is always donating to a worthy cause. The best thing about donating to the NCVA is that I not only got the incredibly highly-sought after warm and fuzzies from the act of giving, but I also get a membership in return. I figured my $20 membership was a donation to something I cared about deeply, as well as an opportunity to connect to fun social events and new, like-minded people (and get great NCVA member discounts at great veg and veg-friendly restaurants in Ottawa!).
 
So, although I’m far from the poster child for the animal rights movement, nor am I saving the planet on a daily basis, I at least knew that, yes, I could make a small, but significant, difference just by being a part of the NCVA. I already felt like I was becoming more of an effective voice for those animals among us who don’t have one. The good news for you folks is that you can do it, too! You don’t even have to wait till the next NCVA event to land yourself a hot new membership. You can do it now right here from the convenience of your own home and at your leisure: ncva.ca/membership

Basically, you’re welcome.

— joe vegan @ saladinasteakhouse.wordpress.com