What would you like to hear a renowned dietitian talk about?

On the evening of October 15, the NCVA will be hosting a talk by Vesanto Melina, R.D., co-author of the classics Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, and Becoming Raw.  All the details for that event will be announced soon, but we have something exciting to share right away: we get to pick the talk she’ll be giving!

Option #1: “Veg Nutrition for Superb Health”

“A comprehensive overview on how to keep yourself in superb health on a plant-based diet. Enjoy an update on protein power from plant foods, bone building without a drop of dairy, getting reliable sources of vitamin B12, including the good fats in your menus, and keeping your blood sugar level between meals without resorting to vegan junk food.”

Option #2: “Raw Food Diets: What’s True, What’s Not?”

“Can we survive—and thrive—on a raw food diet? Why would anyone want to? Do our bodies need the enzymes from plant foods? Are cooked foods toxic? Is food combining important for optimal digestion and health? Should we be eating buckwheat greens, sprouted legumes, raw mushrooms, and seaweeds? What do we learn from the major scientific studies about the health benefits of a diet composed entirely, or mainly, or raw plant foods? For maximum benefit, must our diet be 100 percent raw? What does a nutritionally adequate raw food diet look like?”

Don’t miss this chance to request the talk you’d like to hear from one of the most respected authorities on vegetarian, vegan, and raw nutrition (and food allergies and sensitivities too!) The poll closes Tuesday night, so go vote for your choice!

Update Thursday night: Option #1, “Veg Nutrition for Superb Health”, wins 14-11!

A few books co-authored by Vesanto Melina

Last Chance to Buy Advance Tickets for Tomorrow’s Screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose

Just a final reminder about tomorrow’s screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose:

WhatMaximum Tolerated Dose, a new documentary by Karol Orzechowski, 50% of proceeds to the Fauna Foundation Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

When: Thursday, September 20th, 2012. Doors open 6:15, Film 6:45; Q&A with director 8:30, drinks next door 9:00

Where: The Mayfair theatre, 1074 Bank St. Drinks afterwards at The Barley Mow, 1060 Bank St.

How: Tickets will be available at the door, but please purchase them online if you can, as 10 – 20% of the revenue from tickets sold at the door must be paid to the theatre – and we’d rather see it go to Fauna!


1) To benefit the Fauna Foundation, a world class chimpanzee sanctuary where ex-research chimps get a second chance at life

2) To get a new perspective on animal testing – as it’s seen through the eyes of former animal testers and animal survivors. 

3) To support the filmmakers who are working tirelessly to find new and more effective ways of informing the public about the plight of animals everywhere.

4) Cupcakes! “Cupcakes for Chimps” will be available for sale in the lobby for $3 each – all proceeds will go directly to the Fauna Foundation.

5) To meet the folks from the Fauna Foundation and chat with the film’s director Karol Orzechowski. Hear about the places he traveled and the people he met over the course of making the film.

Hope to see you there!

A World-Class Champanzee Sanctuary in Our Own Backyard

As I’ve reported in previous posts, 50% of the proceeds from this Thursday’s screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose will go the The Fauna Foundation chimpanzee sanctuary in Chambly, QC.

In this post, I’ll provide a bit more info on this amazing sanctuary. I’ll also encourage everyone (again!) to come out to the film, where you’ll get to meet the amazing Fauna folks who work every day to give the former research chimps in their care a second chance at life.

In 1990, Dr. Richard Allan and Gloria Grow purchased a 100 acre farm in the Monteregie region of Quebec, about 20 minutes from Montreal.  In 1997, the property became the not-for-profit Fauna Foundation – whose primary objective was to create a protected environment for neglected, abandoned or abused farmed and domestic animals and animals from entertainment, education and research.

Chance the chimpanzee. Copyright faunafoundation.org

In addition to horses, cows, pigs, goats, geese, llamas, monkeys, and other animals, Fauna is now home to 11 chimpanzees…

Chance spent the first  years of her life in near-total isolation. Despite her emotional scars, she now loves interacting with her house-mates, playing in the water, and raisin bread with hot tea.

Jethro was never considered a good research subject, refusing to eat or drink when he knew he was in a study. Words that would be used to describe Jethro’s personality include: warm, approachable, solid, companionable, loving, tender, courteous, respected, loyal, strong, intuitive, intelligent and protective.

Sue Ellen spent her first 15 years in entertainment, and had her teeth knocked out with a crow bar. She was then sold into research,  where she was mostly involved in HIV studies. She is described as being easily hurt and extremely emotional, but loyal and fearless

Read more about Chance, Jethro, Sue Ellen, and the other residents of Fauna Sanctuary on their website, or read Andrew Westoll’s new book, “The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary“.

And of course, come out to the film (and the pub night aferwards!). Meet the dedicated Fauna team, buy some cool pro-chimp merchandise, and have yourself a tasty treat from our “Cupcakes for Chimps” cart (all proceeds to Fauna!).

An important film for an important cause. We hope to see you there!


Reason #3 Why You Should Attend the MTD Premiere: Beer?

Following on the suggestions of a few of our beloved NCVA members, we’ve decided to host a pub night on September 20th,  following the screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose.

I’d thought of doing something like that before, but I kind of dismissed it because a) I didn’t think anyone would want to stay out that late on a “school night”; and b) None of the pubs near the Mayfair Theatre are particularly vegan-friendly.

The aforementioned members, however, insisted that the late start would be fine and that they’d be perfectly happy settling for beer and fries. What they did not want, they emphasized, was to watch a documentary on such a contentious and emotional subject as animal testing and then have to go home without getting to talk about it.

Good point, I thought. So we’re having a pub night!  So do come out for some fries, beer, and lively conversation about the film. Director Karol Orzechowski will hang out with us for a while too, ready to answer anyone’s questions.

Here are the details:

What: Beer and fries following the Maximum Tolerated Dose Screening
When: September 20th,  9 pm – ?
Where: The Barley Mow, 1060 Bank Street.

Oh, and for those who inquired about the vegan-ness of the popcorn at the Mayfair…my verdict is that it is vegan.

Here’s my train of evidence:

To the right is a shot of the ingredients on the popcorn salt – the only potentially non-vegan thing in the popcorn (assuming you don’t add butter of course). The “butter flavour” is suspicious. The stuff is called “savoral” and is from the Poppa Corn Corp.  An internet search reveals that “savoral” tends to refer to “Flavacol Popcorn Salt”.  A look at Poppa Corn Corp’s web site indicates that Flavacol is indeed what they sell.  A search for “Flavacol Vegan” uncovered the Red Hot Vegans site, which contains the following statement:  “Flavacol only lists artificial flavors on its packaging, and many online sources listed it as a vegan product, but I wanted to go one step further to solidify my investigative reporter status. I wrote to Gold Medal, the makers of Flavacol, and received this response: ‘The Flavacol popcorn seasoning salt is Vegan friendly – containing no animal and/or derivatives of animal products.'”

Reason #2 Why You Should Attend the Ottawa Screening Of MAXIMUM TOLERATED DOSE

Just in case you forgot, the NCVA is sponsoring the Ottawa premiere of Maximum Tolerated Dose, a documentary by Karol Orzechowski. It will be held on September 20th at the Mayfair Theatre. Doors open at 6:15. Advance tickets are on sale now.

So here’s reason #2 why you should go … Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed something of a sea change in the way animal issues are “marketed” to the mainstream population. Previously, most animal rights films focused on graphic images of the horrible things that animals endure at the hands of humans.

The problem is, a good 90% of the population is completely incapable of processing that kind of imagery. Most turn away in horror. Others dismiss it as propaganda – in many cases for the ironic reason that it simply seems “too terrible to be true”.

It’s taken a while, but animal advocates seem to be catching on. They’re softening their imagery and messaging in order to draw on other emotions besides shock, fear, disgust and shame.

Many at the forefront at of this “new animal rights movement” are artists: painters, musicians, writers, photographers and filmmakers. This is not so surprising, for who knows better how to simultaneously attract our attention and touch our hearts?

Copyright Jo-Anne McArthur weanimals.org

The NCVA invited Jo-Anne McArthur to speak at last April’s VegFest. Her We Animals project is one of the best examples of animal advocacy through art that I can think of. Her images are neither gory nor shocking in the conventional sense. And yet they somehow manage to elicit an incredible empathy with their animal subjects. Through her eyes, we see not just the abused objects the animals have been bred to be, but the individuals they were born to be.

Maximum Tolerated Dose takes a similar approach. It’s not devoid of shocking imagery. When you’re talking about animal testing there’s no way to avoid completely the simple facts of what we do to them. But such imagery is not the film’s focus. Rather, it artfully combines appropriate, meaningful, transparently-sourced imagery with the candid testimony of individuals who have seen the animal experimentation industry from the inside.

I’m proud to have the opportunity to promote this new turn in animal advocacy. I think it has the power to change hearts and minds.

I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch a graphic animal rights film. I’ve never seen Meat your Meat, Earthlings, none of them. But I made it through (a rough cut of) Maximum Tolerated Dose without fleeing the room or dissolving into hysterical tears. And, as I discussed in my last post, the film taught this fifteen-year vegan and animal advocate some important stuff she didn’t know about animal experimentation. If you’re still unconvinced – check out the trailers.

Hope to see you on September 20th!

Post your animal or veg-focused event in the NCVA’s new event calendar!

The NCVA has just launched its new Events Calendar. In addition to our own events, we’ll try to list other animal or veg-focused events in the Ottawa area. If you’d like your group’s event to included on the calendar, email the details to ncva.events@gmail.com.

As it turns out, there are a whole pile of events coming up.

September 8th is the deadline for amateur vegan chefs to take advantage of our offer to sponsor their participation in “Taboo Eats”  – we’ll pay your entry and your ingredients for the jurying step.

There are three events on September 9th:  we’ve got the bake sale in the Parkdale Market for the “Be Veg” bus ad campaign. They’re still looking for bakers, I think!

We’ve also got an open house at Notre Petite Ferme (Our Little Farm). Awesome because it’s a local organic veggie farm, awesomer still because the owners are vegan!

Finally, there’s the Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon at the Bruce Pit. For those whose skin is going to crawl when they see it’s sponsored by Iams, we hear you – hence the disclaimer on the calendar: “The appearance of third party events does not constitute endorsement by the NCVA or any of its board members or volunteers of the sponsors or the information and products associated with the event.” But we figure it’s for a good cause, so….

And of course don’t forget about Maximum Tolerated Dose on September 20th!

Anyway, here’s a screen shot of our new addition, so you can bask in its calendarly glory. Or better yet, click here to check out the real thing 🙂

Reason #1 why you should attend the Ottawa screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose

The Ottawa screening will take place at the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St., Ottawa; Sept. 20th, 6:15 - 9:00 pm

As most of you probably know by now, the NCVA is sponsoring the Ottawa premiere of Maximum Tolerated Dose, a new documentary by Karol Orzechowski.

When I first heard that this film was going to be made, I was very excited. You see, Karol used to host Animal Voices, and it was his interview with Dr. John Pippin that provided me with the first really new insight into the world of animal testing that I have had in a very long time.

Until that interview, I had a rather naive view of the debate between animal advocates and vivisectors: the animal advocates thought animal testing was wrong and/or bad science, while the vivisectors thought animal testing constituted good science that justified animal use. In other words, vivisectors really believed they were working for the betterment of humanity.

When Dr. Pippin said that his work vivisecting beagles was really more about furthering his own career in an academic climate of “publish or perish”, I was gobsmacked.

I was gobsmacked because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized that before. I myself have a PhD and have been in research all my life. I’ve seen first hand how research of dubious quality and usefulness is churned out in the literally thousands of academic journals that now constitute professors’ single most important means of securing a job and gaining tenure.

Dr. John Pippin

Thing is, I’m in social research. For whatever reason, it had just never occurred to me that the same thing was going on in biological research. I guess because, when social scientists build their careers on not-so-enlightening statistical models of social phenomena (which could fill the grand canyon twice over!), no one really gets hurt. When a vivisector wants to pad his “Curriculum Vitae”, however, rows of confined, violated, and even tortured animals pay the price.

So this is reason number one why I regard Maximum Tolerated Dose as such an important new film. It examines Dr. Pippin’s revelations – and those of other scientists – in greater detail. It challenges the naive notion that the animal experimentation controversy is simply about the ideological differences between vivisectors and animal advocates. Rather, the film reveals animal experimentation as an industry in itself. And, like most industries, it is primarily concerned with its own perpetuation. And with making money.

If you’re already convinced that you should see the film, please click here for more information and to purchase advance tickets.

If you’re still on the fence, stayed tuned for more ;)…