Do you have what it takes to become Ottawa’s Next Top Vegan?

Join the challenge any time between now and Veg Fest, April 29

By Dee

Veg Fest. Where it all happens.

Could you, for one month, go without milk chocolate, cream in your coffee, eggs at your weekend brunch, cheese (seriously, think about how often you eat cheese), chicken, pork (read: bacon) or steak? I mean, what would you eat? Just vegetables? For a month?

To become one of Ottawa’s Next Top Vegans, you must avoid eating animal products for 31 days. But don’t worry; the NCVA will be there to help you along the way!

Our support emails with tips, recipes and local guides, as well as optional around-the-town events, will certainly help your challenge  – which launches at Veg Fest on


April 29 – go smoothly. CBC’s Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld, who underwent her own 31-day vegan challenge in March, will share her words of wisdom at Veg Fest to help kick start the challenge. And don’t miss the Vegan Challenge expert panel between 4:00 – 4:45 p.m. where the NCVA’s experts can answer whatever questions you have.

(Register for the Vegan Challenge at Veg Fest, or in advance by emailing vegchallenge (at) ncva (dot) ca.)

The 31 Day Vegan Challenge officially starts on May 1 and ends on May 31, 2012. A final celebratory dinner for those who complete the challenge will take place on Friday, June 1, at The Table Vegetarian Restaurant with prizes to be won.  Already a vegan? This is the perfect excuse to cajole your friends and loved ones into trying out this fabulous lifestyle for a month. Who knows- maybe it will stick!

Why wouldn't you want to eat these all month?

So… back to the whole just vegetables for a month business. You’d actually be eating a lot of filling, healthy foods from these four food groups:

1. grains (this includes pasta, bread and cereals, such as quinoa, oats, etc)
2. legumes (peas, beans and lentils)
3. fruits (this includes nuts). Just roam the biggest, most colourful aisle at your grocer.
4. vegetables

Whoa whoa whoa…what about protein?

Answer: See #1, #2, #3, and #4 (yup, they all have protein too…the guilt-free kind)

While we’re on the topic, want to know how much protein you actually need? Click here. So at least you won’t wither away to nothing in 31 days, with all that plant-based protein you’ll be mowing down.

Fine, then… what about calcium? Those fragile bones!

Answer: See #1, #2, #3, and #4] and p.s. here’s a list of excellent guilt-free calcium sources.

Won’t it be hard to substitute meat and dairy in recipes, and expensive? If you’re a lazy omnivore, chances are you’ll be a lazy vegan too. You’ll be buying faux meats all month (good thing there are now many good ones that’ll trick even your sleuthiest meat-eating kid/pal. Here’s a list of where to find it all, in Ottawa).

But if you’re the type who embraces opportunities to learn new skills, then you’ll find that whole foods are actually better value than what you’ve been eating. Plus, you’re more satiated afterwards, so you’ll probably snack less (although there are lots of vegan snacks!). Dark-chocolate-covered cranberries are my weakness! (Yes, you can still have –dairy-free– chocolate! ).

Why would you want to eat this?

If you actually like to cook, you are going to love all the new, healthy, flavourful recipes that you haven’t looked at before, because you were always looking at THE OTHERS. And because people have been eating this way for a long time (it’s even becoming hip to be vegan; be the trendsetter in your group!) , a lot of  companies have created all sorts of plant-based foods to replace animal bits!

Will you miss eating chicken, pig and cow? C’mon, it’s 31 days. But if you do, maybe this will help.

Okay… one last thought…how will your family and friends deal with it?

Option A: Know that what you’re doing is way healthier, better for the environment, and guilt-free. Do something for yourself, the 650,000 million animals killed inhumanely every year (in Canada alone) so we can eat them instead of the four plant-based food groups the environment. Be truly green for one month. Confused?

Read this.
i.e. let them make their own meals OR…

Option B: Feed them the same food. It’s healthy food, remember. It’s not McDonald’s ammonia-laced chicken nuggets made of pink slime, or a pig who’s smarter than your dog, castrated without anaesthesia. Sorry was that too much? It’s okay, because you won’t be eating that anyway. You’re eating whole, happy food, full of every vitamin and mineral you and your family needs.  And, you only have to do it for 31 days to *Tyra Banks’ voiceover* be in the running to become Ottawa’s Next Top Vegan.

Option C: Ditch ‘em all, move to Hawaii, grow dreads, and hunt for berries in your bare feet.

Good luck, have FUN, try new things, visit our Facebook page to keep yourself motivated, and know that you are doing a great thing for yourself and your family.

*high five*

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