NCVA Member Giveaway: Two tickets to ZenKitchen’s June 10 fundraiser

This giveaway is now closed – thank you to everyone who entered it!

ZenKitchen has been a long-time friend and supporter to the NCVA for more than five years.  From the moment it opened its doors, ZenKitchen offered an NCVA member discount (10%), sponsored several Veg Fests, and has hosted us on a number of special occasions (anyone remember the special NCVA pub night a couple of years ago?)

Not only that, ZenKitchen has been lending credibility to our message that vegan food can be just as tasty as even the most “gourmet” omnivorous food. It has changed the hearts and minds of countless people in the Ottawa region, making our job a little bit easier.

Dave and Keira serving noms at Veg Fest 2010.

So we were pretty bummed out when we learned of ZenKitchen’s sudden closing just over a week ago. It’s not just upsetting from a vegan options point of view; it was also sad to hear about the struggles of our longtime comrade David Loan.  If only we could have helped, we thought.

Now with the fundraiser that’s being held, Great Chefs Go Vegan, we can!  The NCVA has purchased two tickets for the June 10 event, and will give a set of them away to one lucky NCVA member who enters this giveaway.  (You can buy event tickets here.)

Here’s the event description:

Enjoy gourmet vegan street food from a number of Ottawa Chefs, including Tarak Hassan (Gungfu Bao), Dave Kwan (Shanghai) and others. Live jazz, silent auction, and more!

Proceeds from the event will go to help ZenKitchen recover from recent financial issues and reopen for the public’s enjoyment.

To enter:  If you’ve been to ZenKitchen, tell us here on the blog the best memory that you have from being there. If you have not been there, check out their brunch, lunch or dinner menu and tell us what you’ll have when you finally go!


Details: Giveaway is open to Ottawa-area NCVA members, excluding those in Quebec. We’re using the honour system here, but reserve the right to confirm your membership status. If you aren’t a member, you can easily become one. (Participating on our Facebook page does not equal membership.)  If you’re not sure if you’re a member, email  One random winner will win two tickets to the ZenKitchen fundraiser event to be held on June 10, 2014, valued at $214, to be provided at the door.  Giveaway closes on Tuesday, June 3 at 11:59 PM EST.  One entry per person. Winner will be chosen by random number generator.

The NCVA cannot be held responsible for the winner’s enjoyment at the event, nor can this prize be exchanged for anything else, regardless of circumstances. If you win, please do not try to get a refund on your ticket if you’ve already purchased one – that is counterproductive to the fundraising effort. Consider this a bonus and bring some friends.

Veg Fest on hiatus


It is with regret that we must announce that after five successful years, Ottawa Veg Fest is indefinitely postponed.  It is our hope that it will be revived for 2015, but the event faces several obstacles.

Veg Fest was founded and organized for four years (2009-2012) primarily by two key volunteers who are no longer able to continue to devote the tremendous amount of time and energy that’s required. It was revived in 2013 by another set of organizers who expanded the event.

However, the new organizers were unable to secure a suitable venue at which to hold Veg Fest in 2014. The Saint Paul University venue (2014) is not available for the next few years due to construction on Main Street, and other venues are already booked solid.  That brings the organizers back to the drawing board where venue is concerned.

Identifying a new venue is easier said than done.  Issues include location, suitability (i.e. capacity to have speakers, vendors etc.), price, availability, size, and food service contracts that do not permit Veg Fest vendors to sell food. All venues that were considered have at least one of these obstacles, if not several.

Another issue is our understanding of a city requirement that each food vendor purchase a nearly $200 food sales permit for the event. This was not enforced for years 1-4, and we were able to secure sponsorship from the Main Farmer’s Market for year 5 which negated the need for vendors to purchase this permit.

It is our hope that successful Veg Fests will occur in the future, but it is not realistic that these obstacles will be overcome for 2014. The National Capital Vegetarian Association hopes to continue its outreach efforts with smaller scale events such as the We Animals book signing at the Ottawa Humane Society. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at if you’re interested in getting involved as part of the NCVA’s Veg Fest 2015 organizing committee, or for other NCVA initiatives.

We are grateful to everyone for his or her support of Veg Fest over the past five years.


Enjoy yourself for a good cause at the Holiday Howl

We have a little quiz for everyone. Please answer yes or no to each of the following.

I like:

  • Delicious vegan food
  • Animals
  • Saving animals’ lives
  • Having fun
  • Not spending Saturday night on the couch
  • Puppehs
  • Bunny rabbits
  • Karaoke

If you answered YES to any of the above, you really need to come to the Holiday Howl! In fact, what’s stopping you from buying your tickets right now?

(Note that we will not be selling tickets at the door. The cut off for buying them is Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 11:59 PM. As it’s mostly volunteers contributing to the food, we do need to know how much food we need to prepare. Pretty please!)

The Holiday Howl’s proceeds will support New Moon Rabbit Rescue and Sit With Me Shelter Dog Rescue.

Much of the food is being prepared by the NCVA’s own Erin O’Sullivan, who has a cult-like following amongst the Ottawa vegan potluck/event crowd for her amazing kitchen creations.  The Compassionate Rabbit, SimplyRaw Express, and myself are also kicking in contributions.  The Montgomery Legion is generously donating the venue, and terra20 is providing some door prizes and auction items, as well as the sound system.  The NCVA’s sponsorship covers any additional costs.

What this means is that virtually every dollar we collect in ticket sales will go to the animal rescues.  

What are you waiting for?  The animals – including Buzz (below) – need you. And you need a party.

Buzz is losing weight after coming to Sit With Me from a shelter situation, vastly overweight. He is available for adoption!

New NCVA member discount: 10% off purchases at terra20


The NCVA has enrolled in terra20’s Saving For Change program, which offers members a discount on terra20 merchandise.  By enrolling in this program as an NCVA member, you will save 10% on every regularly priced item in-store and while shopping at terra20’s online store, which offers more than 8,000 products. terra20 will also refund 2% of the total purchase amount made by NCVA members to support the association eco-initiatives.

terra20 is an Ottawa-based retailer, with North America’s largest selection of healthy and sustainable products under one roof, including personal care, electronics, household goods, apparel, home décor and much more.  Keep an eye out for the “Contains No Bunnies” icon which signifies that a product is vegan. The beaker icon indicates products that are free of 27 problematic chemicals (although all products at terra20 are vetted to be free of the 15 worst offenders, and to also not be tested on animals.)

The first location is a 15,000 sq. ft. flagship store beside Ikea. terra20 is opening a second location on Nov. 2 at 1304 Wellington Street W.

The enrollment process is easy –

  • To enroll in-store – simply visit the guest services desk in the store, identify yourself as a NCVA member by presenting your membership card or this email on your smartphone or in printed form. From there, you can quickly build a profile, and immediately begin to make purchases at the 10% discount
  •  To enroll online – simply click here and follow the instructions;  your profile will require two business days to become active.

(Here’s a blog post about vegan cosmetics written by NCVA board member (and terra20 staffer) Pamela Tourigny.)



Vegan gluten-free donuts that don’t suck

I attempted a gluten-free donut recipe the other night, and it was terrible. Truly awful.

But all the talk on the NCVA’s Facebook page left me wanting donuts still. So tonight I tried again.  But this time I decided to use my favourite non-gluten-free recipe, and substitute in gluten-free flour.

Why gluten-free? I just like to switch it up. I do not think that gluten is evil (unless you have celiac disease, of course), nor do I think gluten-free = healthy.  I have a colleague who can’t eat gluten, so when I make treats I try to make them gluten-free so that she can enjoy them too.

Even Erin might eat these.

Cake donuts with icing and sprinkles

Adapted from this recipe.

(Makes six donuts)

Dry Ingredients

1 + a bit Cup Gluten-free flour mix (I used 1/3 cup sorghum, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, 1/4 cup chick pea flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour + 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum)

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp  Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cinnamon


Wet Ingredients

1/2 Cup soy or almond milk

1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Egg Replacer for 1 Egg

1/4 Cup Earth Balance


Icing Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered icing

1 tbsp soy milk



Preheat oven to 350F. Put all the wet ingredients in a small pot on the stovetop on low and whisk together. Heat until just be warm to the touch. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Grease donut pan. Put the donut batter into a plastic baggie and cut the corner so that you can pipe the batter into the pan.

Bake for 12 minutes or so. Remove from oven. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate.

Don’t miss Plant Power 2013 by Wellness Warrior Coaching

Local vegan coaching service Wellness Warrior Coaching is bringing Plant Power 2013 to Ottawa on April 20 from 2-6pm. World-renowned vegan ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, author of Finding Ultra and Michael Greger, MD, nutrition research expert will help you gain a better understanding of the power of plant-based foods.

What you can expect from the afternoon event:

* World class speakers and a panel so your questions get answered

* Great food from SimplyRaw Express

* Green smoothie demo by Catherine Droessler of Almost Raw Vegan

* Strength training for running demo by John Zahab of Continuum Fitness

* Yoga and Wellness expert Donna Davis will share one of her most powerful techniques to help you harness the energy and focus to connect to sustained peak performance.

* Interesting exhibitors

The event takes place at the Old Ottawa South Community Centre (Old Firehall). Tickets are $50 and the event more than 50% sold out – Check the website for more information and to buy tickets: 

Volunteers needed: A volunteer is needed to run the sound system and projector for the powerpoint/keynote presentations, and another is needed to take photos and video. Volunteers are very appreciated and will get into the event at no cost.

Wellness Warrior thanks contributors Good Guys Tri, Enerjive, Camino, Almost Raw Vegan, Continuum Fitness, Shanti Coffee, terra20 and our sponsors – NCVA, Elation Centre, Sue Bird/Arbonne, Natural Food Pantry and SimplyRaw Express.



Ottawa Veg Fest will live on: 5th annual Veg Fest to be held June 22 -23 at Saint Paul University


Ottawa’s premier vegan food and lifestyle event, Ottawa Veg Fest, has drawn more than 10,000 visitors during its four-year run, including more than 3,200 in 2012. However, when its volunteer co-founders both stepped away after its fourth year, the event’s future became unclear.

But Ottawa Veg Fest will live on: The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA), which has run Veg Fest since 2009, is pleased to announce that the 2013 event will be organized by Ottawa Local Motives (OLM). They have a long and successful history of organizing environmental and healthy living events in Ottawa, and will combine Veg Fest with an exciting new event, Yoga Fest and share the theme: “Celebrating a Healthy Ottawa.”

The NCVA will participate as an exhibitor, but will not be involved with the event’s coordination.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Ottawa Local Motives, and have confidence that they will carry on the event in the spirit in which it was founded and executed for the past four years,” says Pamela Tourigny, Veg Fest co-founder and past-NCVA president. “The main organizers have both participated in Veg Fest as vendors in the past, and have a keen understanding of what the event is all about.”

Veg Fest and Yoga Fest will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, from 10 am to 4 pm, indoors and outdoors on the campus of Saint Paul University (on Main Street). While previous Veg Fests were one day, the combined event will be two days, and will be significantly expanded. There will be speakers and vegan cooking demonstrations, as well as an array of yoga-related activities. The event will continue to showcase many of Ottawa’s finest vegan-friendly products and services.

Anyone interested in exhibiting should contact the new event organizers or 613-239-4951.

More event information is also available at

Media Inquiries please contact: Heather Garrod –

Veg Fest is being moved from the Glebe Community Centre, where it has been held for the past four years.

Coconut curry lentil soup and kale/squash quinoa pilaf for lunch? Yes please, all week!

I been feeling more creative in the kitchen lately, which probably has something to do with the weeks of -20C and colder temperatures.  People have shown an interest in my creations on Facebook, so I thought I’d share them here as well.

One thing I almost always prioritize is taking a couple of hours on Sunday to make my lunches for the week. It’s not that I have endless amounts of spare time; it is two hours I’m not spending on something else I want to do. However, I prioritize nourishing myself with delicious and healthy food, because it helps me feel better overall (I used to fight nodding off every afternoon, and felt generally sluggish). I suspect I make up those two hours in added productivity throughout the week.

Another positive trade-off is that I don’t have to think about what I’m going to have for lunch at all during the week. I take it all in on Monday and that’s the last I have to think of it. There’s no early morning scrambling to find something to take for lunch, and I like it that way.

This week’s lunches are packed with protein (lentils and quinoa), and kale.  I made a quinoa pilaf, and coconut curried lentil soup. (Note that both recipes are gluten-free, if a gluten-free bouillon/broth is used.)

Kale, roasted squash and quinoa pilaf


– about two cups of cooked quinoa (in some veggie bullion)

– one small butternut squash, cubed and oven roasted with garlic, oil, sea salt

– two cups of shredded kale

– 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds

– half an onion, finely diced

– garlic

– garlic powder

– pepper

– oil for sauteeing


What to do

Roast squash in a glass dish, coated with oil, salt and garlic, and while that’s happening cook your quinoa (probably about 3/4 cup uncooked).

In a frying pan sautee onions and garlic. Add kale, pumpkin seeds and other spices.

Then throw in the quinoa and squash once it’s done. Mix up and you’re done.


Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup


– 1/2 red onion, finely chopped

– 1 tsp (heaping) coconut oil

– minced ginger, garlic, & chili mix (i use jarred ginger/garlic, and a frozen hot pepper cube)

– 1 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed

– 3 cups boiling water with veggie bullion cube (or straight up veggie broth)

– 1 tbsp spice mix – garam masala, chili powder, etc

– 1 can coconut milk (I often use lite)

– Two cups of kale, shredded


What to do

Melt oil in soup pot on low to med heat. Add onion and let soften. Once onion is soft, add minced ginger, garlic and chili mix and stir, mixing the flavours.

Add one cup of lentils, along with spice mix of your choice. Mix it all together before adding 1 can of coconut milk. Stir and then add your veggie broth. Bring it all to a gentle boil then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes or so until the lentils are soft and amazeballs. Add kale towards the end, to let it wilt.

Pilgrimage to Mello’s

So on Friday Nov. 2, upon hearing good news of great joy from NCVA board member David, a group of seven of us descended on Mello’s Restaurant on Dalhousie Street in Ottawa’s ByWard Market to see if what David was reporting was true, or too good to be true.  We needed to find out: is Mello’s restaurant truly for vegans, as he had promised?

Jerk pork

In case you haven’t seen his original blog post, David reported the following through his blog about Mello’s:

We’re talking delicious fries with (vegan) gravy, jerk pork (read: seitan) and steamed bun with cilantro, the best (vegan) pad thai you will ever treat your tastebuds to, and whatever else they can cook up. The head chef appears to be no stranger to vegan grub, as he works skillfully with tofu, seitan, tempeh and other vegan protein favourites.

Wait, what? At an old-school diner?  We had to see it to believe it.

Once we all arrived, the lovely server presented us with the menu. It detailed things like pork belly, and a cheese platter.  “We’d like the vegan menu,” we politely asserted.  That’s when she pointed out the little phrase in italics at the bottom of the menu:  Most menu items can be made with vegan or vegetarian substitutions.  

Woah, minds blown. How to decide?!  We grilled her a bit more, making sure she understood that we meant business. She got it, she really did.  Note: The cheese platter cannot be veganized.

Reuben Dumplings

Well, I can’t speak for anyone else and their decision-making process, but Neil, Erin and I decided to join forces to share as many dishes as possible so we didn’t have to leave anything out.  We ordered three appetizers, and three entrees to share. This is common for them; Erin has written before about their odd sharing habits, and I was about to join them.  The server seemed taken aback. “That’s a lot of food. Are you sure?”  We had never been more sure of anything in our lives.

The apps came first.  A big plate of long shoestring french fries coated with delicious salty gravy (mushroom, I believe), “Reuben Dumplings” were actually dumplings stuffed with faux beef and Daiya cheese, and “Jerk Pork” that was bean curd skin soaked in spicy jerk pork sauce on some sort of homemade steamed bun.  All were very good, but it is the dumplings and fries/gravy that I still fantasize about. They can also be made as poutine, using Daiya.

Then the mains.  These were overall very good, but a bit more hit or miss than the starter fare.  We ordered:

The Pad Thai ($16), which was really quite unlike pad thai, but nonetheless completely delicious. My husband felt it was a bit bland, but I think it may be because he was eating JUST the pad thai and not six different dishes.

The Buffalo Chicken Wings ($16) – breaded and fried tofu sticks dipped in hot sauce- a total win.

Buffalo Wings

The Beef Shortrib ($25)- this was substituted with tempeh. Now, I love tempeh. But this was not the best tempeh I’ve had, and to be totally honest, given the $25 plate price tag, it was a miss.  My advice to the chef would be marinate marinate marinate, and also consider discounting the dish to reflect its much humbler substitution.  The tempeh cheezburger at Cafe My House is pretty much the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life, and the platter sells for $15.  This shortrib dish came with some sides, but they were a bit minimal and definitely did not justify the $25 price tag. I just checked my photos, and I didn’t even take a photo.

None of us expected anything when it came to dessert, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the chef had prepared a vegan dessert just for us! It was what the waitress called a “deconstructed” pie, with fresh berries, crust, and homemade coconut almond ice cream. It was excellent.

Overall it was a unique and delicious experience, that introduced me to some flavours and textures that I had not experienced before.   A lot of care and consideration has clearly been given to making the vegan substitutions. Apparently the chef’s girlfriend is vegan, so you can thank her for this!  I would recommend checking it out, and giving it a whirl. Apparently few people have taken advantage of the vegan substitutions  which I am sure can be explained in no small part by the lack of promotion of these options to the veg community. So let’s show them some support! I was a bit disappointed not to meet the chef; I knew he was there because our server mentioned it, but he wasn’t identified so I wasn’t able to reach out myself.

I’ll close with a few things David mentioned in his blog post, so that you can heed the advice and have an experience just as enjoyable as ours:

  1.  The seating is limited, so it is recommended that you make a reservation;
  2. The chef suggests letting him know in advance that you’re coming, especially if it’s going to be a large group of vegans, because lately, given the lack of popularity–which by the way the vegan army plans on doing something about–he wouldn’t be able guarantee that he’ll be able to make *everything* vegan on the fly. It would be in your best interest to call in advance anyway, because both himself and the staff are extremely friendly and it’s almost heartwarming to talk to them and hear how they will cater to your dietary requirements;
  3. These vegan options are only applicable to the dinner menu. An entirely different crew runs the show at lunch hour.

And yes, Erin, Neil and I ate everything that was put in front of us! 🙂


Mellos Restaurant
290 Dalhousie St., Ottawa ON

Veg Nutrition for Superb Health – Free presentation on Oct. 15

Vesanto Melina, R.D.

The NCVA was absolutely delighted a few months ago when, out of the blue, one of North America’s leading vegan dietitians contacted us to offer to speak for the NCVA in Ottawa.

Vesanto Melina, R.D., is the award-winning co-author of best-selling books Becoming Raw, Becoming Vegan, The New Becoming Vegetarian, Raising Vegetarian Children, The Raw Food Revolution Diet, The Food Allergy Survival Guide, and the new Cooking Vegetarian.  She co-authored many of these with the equally magnificent Brenda Davis R.D., who was a speaker at Veg Fest 2009. Ms. Davis had suggested she get in touch with us, since Ms. Melina is visiting Ottawa for a conference.

We are so fortunate to have access to such top-tier expertise, right here at home.  On Oct. 15  Ms. Melina will present a comprehensive overview on how to keep yourself in superb health on a plant-based diet.  Those who attend will be treated to 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.  They will also be treated to some semi-healthy vegan treats, in honour of Ms. Melina.

Ms. Melina has taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and at Seattle’s Bastyr University. She co-authored the joint position paper on vegetarian diets of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. Her website is

Here are the details:

Veg Nutrition for Superb Health
by Vesanto Melina
Ottawa Public Library, main branch
(Metcalfe Street, downtown Ottawa)
7:00 p.m. – Come early to ensure you get a seat!