Mark your calendars: Veg Fest happens on April 29 and it’s bigger and better than ever


Remember this?

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the National Capital Vegetarian Association’s volunteers, Veg Fest is back for 2012.  Last year the NCVA hit it out of the park, and this year it will be bigger and better than ever.

How, you ask?

The only concern people have expressed about the event is that it is outgrowing its venue. Last year the event attracted nearly 3,000 people, and the Glebe Community Centre was bursting at the seams.

But what to do? Ottawa lacks affordable, multi-purpose venues that do not have locked down food service contracts, so NCVA organizers were limited. Plus, the Glebe Community Centre is absolutely beautiful, a perfect venue for the event.

The solution?  The NCVA can’t take full credit, it was Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson who put forward the suggestion at last year’s event.

The NCVA is taking it to the street. That’s right, in addition to its usual set-up, Veg Fest will be expanding outside the GCC, into the street, and across to the school across the street.  Guest speakers will have an expanded venue, as will food demonstrators.

So here are the deets. Veg Fest will take place on Sunday, April 29 this year, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.  There will be guest speakers (stay tuned for announcements). There will be food demonstrators, including Rogers Television’s Kathy Smart and Credible Edibles‘ Judi Varga Toth.

There will be loads of fabulous exhibitors and free samples. There will be a cow, a carrot, a pea, and a planet earth walking about for photo ops.  A silent auction will once again raise money to support the NCVA’s activities.

And this year, the NCVA is introducing a 31-day vegan challenge, which will launch at the Veg Fest.

Planning is still underway, and announcements will be made as the big day draws nearer.

The NCVA is counting on you all to cross post, tweet, and promote the heck out of Veg Fest so that there is a crowd to match the expanded venue.  Veg Fest can only succeed with community support- help the NCVA hit 4,000 in 2012!

Stay tuned…

Mambo to the Market for Vegan Poutine

I apologize in advance if this blog post is a bit boring – but I wanted to get it out before Wednesday.

Rooftop patio! I should also mention they frequently have entertainment - 'Piano Man' Noel Dimar this Wednesday

Why? Because Mambo features its new vegetarian/vegan menu on Wednesdays, and I want everyone to have advance notice in case they want to go.

So here’s the scoop…

Mambo is a Latin-fusion restaurant in the Byward Market. With its duskily romantic atmosphere, it’s probably the last place on earth where I’d expect to find vegan poutine.

But there is was: item #7 on Mambo’s new vegetarian/vegan menu. The NCVA had been invited to sample said menu, and I, as the organization’s restaurant outreach coordinator and avid fan of free food, finally made it out last Wednesday.

Upon arrival, I was equally enthused by the rooftop patio as by the words “vegan menu” smiling up from Mambo’s sandwich board. We were greeted by Claira, Mambo’s promotions manager, who had arranged for us to sample four of their vegan appetizers.

My photo makes it look like a giant angry snail, but it tasted awesome!


 As we waited for them to arrive, we chatted with Claira about Mambo’s new menu over cold beer and a pleasantly surprising bowl of kettle-cooked popcorn. Mambo’s sister restaurant, Kinki, has offered veg fare on Wednesdays for more than two years, and they are hoping to repeat that success at Mambo.

The first dish to arrive was the salad. I was very pleased to find it heaping with candied nuts and a massive poached pear whose taste prompted me to issue a short prayer to God explaining that this is what fruit is supposed to taste like, and that if he’d just make it like that right out of the box, people would eat it more.

 Next came the “Gringos” tacos, a tasty and unique sautéed veggie and pineapple mixture atop home-made taco shells.
Hard on their heels came an explosively colorful plate of nachos. Sprinkled with vegan cheese, amped up by a riotous pico de gallo and washed down with a sip of draft, they were pretty much heaven. And if they could have talked, they’d have insisted on being eaten on the patio, snow be damned.

But of course the star of the night was the vegan poutine. The mushroom gravy was second-to-none and the potatoes – roasted , I think, rather than fried – were, were….well, description is failing me- but they were gone really fast, which pretty much says it all.

The only flaw in Mambo’s veggie/vegan menu was that it’s not altogether obvious what’s veggie, what’s vegan, and what’s veggie but can be made vegan on request. So be prepared for a minor Q&A session when you order. On the plus side, I called the issue to Claira’s attention and she’s going to try to figure out a more explicit labeling system.

So there you have it. Vegan Wednesdays at Mambo. Off you go.

Dr. Amanda Chan’s three secrets to long-lasting health

This guest  blog post is by Dr. Amanda Chan D.C., a long-time vegetarian, trained chiropractor, and Network Spinal Analysis practitioner.   Dr. Chan has a special offer just for NCVA members: A free initial Network Spinal Analysis consultation with her, valued at $70.00. Contact info is below the post 

By Dr. Amanda Chan, D.C.

You exercise regularly, you eat a well-balanced plant-based diet and you meditate frequently…you do “everything” to be “healthy” and yet something is still missing.  It just isn’t enough. You know that your body has the capacity to function at a higher level, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  So, how to do you from where you are now to where you ultimately want to be?  Continue reading to discover my Three Secrets to Long-Lasting Health.

Dr. Amanda Chan

Secret #1: A Change in Perspective

Albert Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This is true of your pain, stress and symptoms.  If you want to end your pain and what you’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working for you, the first thing you’re going to have to do is open your mind to changing how you think about your pain!

This could be similar to when you made the switch to a plant-based ifestyle.  If you were like me, you used to eat meat at some point, then there was a change in perspective that caused you to switch.

Pain can mean different things to different people.  For some, pain is seen as an annoyance.  For others, it is something to be scared of and when they’re in pain, they feel powerless or like a victim.  Some people believe they have nothing to do with the pain at all and that their life was going along “just fine” until the pain showed up to ruin their life!  There are others who gain a sense of significance because when they are in pain, they get more love and attention.  So, how did you think about your pain?

Secret #2: The Body and Mind Connection

Dr. Candance Pert’s research found that the brain, nervous, endocrine, and immune system all function as a unit sending messages back and forth.  That is to say, your mind and your body depend on each other to work together.

So, when you open your mind to a new perspective, your body also becomes more receptive to “feeling” the parts of you that have been ignored, avoided or blamed.

Secret #3: Network Spinal Analysis (NSA)

This is an extremely unorthodox yet highly effective non-invasive method for ending pain, increasing energy and building body awareness.

NSA is a body-centered method that helps people predictably transform their lives.  It’s practiced by chiropractors but there’s no cracking or popping.  NSA is a discipline that uses gentle contacts, not much more pressure than you would put on your closed eyelid, along the spine to create higher brain awareness of the tension that builds in your body due to stresses in your life.  A Network session helps you connect to this tension and release it.

Even if you eat a well-balanced plant based diet, workout regularly and meditate, your body can still be reacting to past physical, emotional and mental stress that you can’t seem to shake.  NSA shifts people’s bodies and minds out of “stress mode” so they are more receptive to change, less reactive and more open to possibility.

Dr. Amanda Chan is trained as a chiropractor and now practices Network Spinal Analysis exclusively. She holds workshops each month on various topics related to stress, personal and spiritual growth.  Please check the workshop schedule at


If you are a NCVA member and interested in a complimentary initial consultation with Dr. Chan, contact her office at the coordinates below. Make an appointment specifically with Dr. Chan, and please mention that you are a member of the NCVA to receive the member benefit.  Be prepared to show your valid member card.


Hampton Wellness Centre
1419 Carling Ave, Suite 209
Ottawa, ON  K1Z 7L6
T- 613-761-1600
Cell- 613-858-8588

Eating well, eating out: Are both possible?

Yes, but the NCVA needs your help to make it happen!

By Edelweiss

Being vegan at home is easy once you’ve have worked out how to make your favourite foods without animal products, know what brands of foods to get and have a routine for getting them.

Eating out, however, is a different story. How many times have you gone to lunch with coworkers and quietly asked the waitress what they have in the line of vegan options, and she pauses with furrowed brow, as though trying to figure out a complicated calculus question in her head, and then smiles, at which point you feel hopeful, and she says, brightly, “We have salad!” and your heart sinks.

I’ve suffered through salad meals, or those consisting of a stirfry with none of the good stuff (ginger, garlic, thai basil, and so on), or pale, boiled celery and carrots and unappetizing plain rice, or pita with hummus, and forked over good money for it.

The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) wants to let restaurant managers and cooks know that preparing vegan dishes can be easy, and that people will buy them if they put them on the menu. So, to get an idea of what you’d like, and what would sell well, how about throwing some ideas for awesome vegan restaurant food out there?

I am compiling recipes on behalf of the NCVA to share with local restaurants, as well as to eventually have an online resource for anyone looking for the best vegan recipes on offer. This initiative can only be as useful and dynamic as its contributions, so let your voice be heard!

I personally would like to see on a menu vegan fast food (pizza, burgers), ethnic dishes (stirfries without hidden fish sauce, curries), interesting wraps (loaded with sauteed eggplant, grilled red pepper and other tasty fillings), ice cream, breakfast food (pancakes, french toast, waffles) and even croissants! I lived in France for four months and loooooooved croissants, especially pain au chocolat. Here’s a link to a pain au chocolat recipe. I haven’t tried it but just knowing it exists makes me happy.

So, what would you love to eat when you eat out? And do you have any recipes online you’d like to recommend? Just put your thoughts and links to recipes, if you have some, into the comments below.  Be a part of getting this off the ground!