The NCVA is publishing this guest blog post for the hard working volunteers with New Moon Rabbit Rescue.
By New Moon Rabbit Rescue
New Moon Rabbit Rescue is facing a crisis. Nothing could have prepared us for the demand we’ve been up against this summer and we are all feeling the crunch. Demand for rabbits needing help is astronomically high, and public support has not yet risen to meet it.
As a rescue, our biggest challenges have always been getting and keeping foster homes and raising funds primarily to cover medical costs for the rabbits that come to us.
We’ve gained a lot of support over the past six years and grown a lot as a rescue and have been able to save hundreds of rabbit lives. We are grateful for the unwavering support of the community, but also realize that we must extend our reach in order to be able continue doing what we do and continue being able to give these rabbits a second chance. We need your help to be able to help them.
Each neuter costs the rescue $130-215, while each spay costs $205-300. Only a very small fraction of rabbits who come to us are already spayed or neutered, and as we have an average of 45 rabbits coming into rescue per year, we are looking at quite a high cost every year for spaying and neutering alone. And that’s for a completely healthy rabbit, which many are not when they arrive!
You can donate in many ways, such as Canada Helps (www.canadahelps.org), Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Email Money Transfer through your bank account (email@example.com). All donation information can also be found on our website. You can also send a cheque to PO Box 24 North Gower, ON K0A 2T0 or stop by one of our upcoming events. You will receive a tax receipt for any donation of $10 or more if you provide your name and address.
Fosters urgently needed
For us, just like many animal rescues, foster homes are a constant uphill battle. If we had 10 foster homes, they would be full at any given point in time and if we had 50, they would also be full. The more foster homes we have, the more rabbits have a chance at life and to know the love and compassion most don’t know is out there. Many of the rabbits who come to New Moon are “last chance” animals that would otherwise be euthanized. When you foster, you are saving a life!
We ask you today to please considering fostering a New Moon rabbit. We need you and more importantly, they need you. They are waiting to show you how wonderful an experience fostering is!
Fostering is an extremely rewarding experience. Most of these rabbits have spent their lives confined to a tiny cage and do not know the joy of human companionship or have spent months to years in shelters waiting for a forever home that never comes. It is beautiful to be able to see a shy rabbit unaccustomed to humans or one that has only had bad experiences with people flourish into a loving companion. To teach a rabbit that they can play, run, interact with their human caregivers and simply be safe and loved, is a most beautiful experience.
All they ask is for love while they await adoption. All we ask is that you provide them with an appropriate diet, sufficient play time, a clean, healthy environment and socialization. We are happy to provide farm fresh mixed grass hay and the “start-up” supplies you need (cage, litter box, bowls).
You can foster for a short time or indefinitely – it is up to you! Don’t worry if you have dogs, cats, guinea gigs, rodents or reptiles – many of our fosters are avid animal lovers with multiple pets! We are flexible with our foster homes and don’t mind if you don’t have previous rabbit experience as long as you are willing to learn. Fosters are always welcome to adopt if you meet that special somebunny that changes your life!
Please get in touch
You can find all the information you need on fostering for us at our website and you may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you cannot adopt, foster. If you cannot foster, donate. If you cannot donate, share this with your friends. Everyone can make a difference and be a bunny hero!
The following post was written by one of the NCVA’s 100+ 31-Day Vegan Challenge takers. Thanks so much to Killashandra for taking the time to share her experience with us!
By Killashandra Rashid
A few days into the vegan challenge, I was sitting with my friends, a bottle of red wine, pasta tossed in a homemade tomato sauce packed full of veggies with a side of garlic bread. For dessert, some vegan cheesecake. Every last thing was carefully prepared or purchased vegan. Not too shabby.
I think I can do this.
Don’t get me wrong, in the last week, I’ve read more food labels than in the past five years! There have been a number of surprises along the way as well. It’s pretty disturbing to see some of the innocent-looking food that animal products sneak into. People keep saying that going vegan means planning and, for that reason, I completely agree. It’s a good thing I love food.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, you have to love food to easily go vegan. If you’re not used to spending lots of time thinking about and preparing food, then being vegan would be a tough transition, I think. Personally, as a poor student, I’ve been planning out all my meals for the last year to maximize my food budget. This planning, that started out as purely practical, slowly shifted the way I think about what I put into my body and got me curious about food and recipes. Eventually, new recipes became exciting and challenging to me. Cooking, especially baking for friends and family, became a hobby.
So, when I ran into the NCVA at the Women’s Show in Ottawa a couple weeks before Veg Fest and they suggested the challenge, it more exciting to me than daunting. Getting to play with new ingredients, in new and creative ways, paired with the ethical and health reasons to make the change, made the challenge too good to pass up.
My experience so far has been great! By investing the extra time in planning, I don’t feel particularly deprived or limited. Eating out, with friends and family, has been the main challenge. While many restaurants have vegetarian options, vegan options are far more difficult to come by. It is also surprising how few places can confirm what may or may not be going into the food they serve.
These drawbacks, however, are well worth it. I feel great. I have more energy and don’t feel as heavy and lethargic after eating some meals. Whether that is due to the change in diet or a placebo effect related to it, I can’t be sure, but that doesn’t really matter too much to me. The most important thing is that I’m quite happy with my choice to take up the vegan challenge. Because of this challenge, I’m doing something I never would have fathomed just a few months ago. I’m considering going vegan for good.
I haven’t decided one way or the other yet, mostly because of the impact that it would have on my friends and family who find it difficult to eat with me now that I’m participating in the challenge. Regardless, I have plenty of time before the challenge is over figure it all out and I fully intend to make the most of it!
So as if there weren’t enough reasons to become a NCVA member, SimplyRaw Express’ Natasha Kyssa has gone and added another.
Unless you live in a cave, you are probably aware that longtime vegan guru Kyssa, along with her husband Mark Faul, will be opening her hotly anticipated (mostly raw) vegan cafe/take out counter in the lovely neighbourhood of Hintonburg. Kyssa has been a raw food consultant for what seems like forever, and the opening of SimplyRaw Express will fulfill a nearly lifelong dream.
Well, NCVA members can rejoice: Kyssa is offering us a 10 per cent discount on all food and drink purchases at SimplyRaw Express.
And have we mentioned lately that SimplyRaw Express is one of Veg Fest’s Silver level sponsors? Natasha and Mark really understand the importance of being a part of the community.
“SimplyRaw Express strongly supports the National Capital Vegetarian Association. As devoted vegans for decades, Mark and I are thrilled to support the community advocacy and awareness building efforts of the NCVA to introduce more people to a healthier, more humane lifestyle,” Kyssa says.
NCVA memberships are $20 for the year, and entitle card holders to discounts at a number of Ottawa establishments, including The Table, Cafe My House, ZenKitchen, Auntie Loo’s Treats, Green Earth and more. See the full list here. You can become a member online, or join at Veg Fest!
The opening date for SimplyRaw Express has yet to be pinpointed, but will be during the first half of May. Stay tuned to the NCVA Facebook page or SimplyRaw Express‘ website for details as they become available.
So what is this Vegan Challenge panel happening on Sunday, between 4:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.?
As you may have heard, the NCVA is holding a 31-Day Vegan Challenge through the month of May. There are already more than 30 participants signed up, which is pretty sweet!
At 4:00 p.m. the Veg Challenge panel will convene in the Corpus Christi School gymnasium (across the street from the Glebe Community Centre) and will be available to take anyone and everyone’s questions about the vegan lifestyle. It’s a bit of an all-star line up, and an opportunity to ask whatever questions have been on your mind.
Join NCVA President Josh “Flower Power” Flower, Wellness Warrior Coaching’s Deb Gleason, and Credible Edible’s Judi Varga-Toth for a lively and interesting Q&A discussion about plant-based diets. We encourage Veg Challenge participants to come to this event to have their questions and concerns addressed. But really, anyone can come to take advantage of this wealth of knowledge.
Even if you’re already vegan and know absolutely everything, consider roping your interested friends and family into going. At the very least they will be dazzled by the sunny dispositions and vast depths of insight of our panel participants.
We are now less than three days until Veg Fest gets underway, so we thought we would take the opportunity to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the event.
Firstly, to summarize, Ottawa Veg Fest is organized by the National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA- that’s us!) and sponsored by The Table Vegetarian Restaurant. It will be held on April 29 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Glebe Community Centre and Corpus Christi School. It will feature exhibitors, guest speakers, cooking demos, a silent auction, and Ottawa’s Next Top Vegan 31-Day Challenge. Admission is free.
Q: What is the NCVA, and how does it organize Veg Fest?
A: The NCVA is a small volunteer-run organization committed to promoting the vegan lifestyle for its many benefits, and helping to develop the social infrastructure to support it. The NCVA has no paid staff. The Veg Fest organizing group is a small core of volunteers who commit many hundreds of hours to bringing the event to life.
Q: Do I have to be a vegetarian or vegan to come to Veg Fest?
A: Heck no! Everyone is welcome at Veg Fest, and we mean everyone. And no, not in the same way a vegan is “welcome” at a grilling contest. We want people from all walks of life to come and enjoy delicious vegan food, and learn more about this way of living, in a no-pressure environment. Drop by the NCVA table to say hello!
Q: Who are the speakers at Veg Fest? How do I know when they will be speaking?
A: That info is available on our website. (They are Jo-Anne McArthur, Jack Norris RD and James McWillians PhD.) If you want more detailed info about each speaker, scroll back a page or two on this blog. We have done extensive Q & A’s with each of them.
One thing to note is that the presentations will be occurring at Corpus Christi school this year, which is across from the Glebe Community Centre. Watch for the costumed carrot, cow, pea and planet earth to help guide you there.
Q: What is this Veg Challenge panel happening at 4 p.m. Is that just for people who have signed up for the 31-Day Vegan Challenge?
A: The panel includes NCVA President Josh Flower, Wellness Warrior Coaching‘s Deb Gleason, and Credible Edible‘s Judi Varga-Toth. They will be answering questions plant-based diets. We encourage Veg Challenge participants to come to this event to have their questions and concerns addressed, but we welcome anyone who wants to learn more to come and ask a question.
Q: Why isn’t _______ an exhibitor at Veg Fest? Who are the exhibitors?
A: There could be many reasons. It is possible they weren’t interested in being an exhibitor. It is also possible that they were interested, but tried to register too late. Veg Fest exhibitor space fills up quickly every year, usually about six weeks before the event. We only have room for about 32 exhibitors, which also means we have to be a bit selective about who participates.
As for who the exhitibitors are, you can see a list here.
Q: Why doesn’t Veg Fest have _______?
A: There could be many reasons for that too. It could be that we didn’t think of it. It could also be that we did think of it but researched it and realized it wasn’t feasible. It is also possible that we really wanted to do it, but didn’t have enough volunteer power. We invite you to make suggestions for how we can improve the event, but even more, we invite you to become part of organizing future events. Just email us at ncva.avcn at gmail dot come if you would like to get involved.
Q: What happened to the cupcake contest?
A: Nothing happened to it, we just decided to do the 31-Day Vegan Challenge instead, to try something new. The venue isn’t big enough to hold lots of different off-shoots of the event. We are considering holding the cupcake contest as a stand-alone event sometime in the coming months, but it will really depend on our volunteer resources.
Q: How do I get to Veg Fest? Is there parking?
A: The great thing about the Glebe is there are lots of ways to get there. There is parking available throughout the Glebe, and some limited off-street parking available in the immediate vicinity of the community centre. For a map, see here.
Q: Where do funds raised for the silent auction go?
A: The silent action is the single fund raising event that the NCVA does to raise money for itself. The silent auction money is used to support NCVA operations, including things like paying to exhibit at other events, normal operating costs, printing etc. On other occasions where the NCVA has raised money (i.e. Veg Ball, the Glebe Garage Sale) the NCVA donated the money to other charities. The NCVA receives no grant money; it is just a very leanly operated organization.
Q: Why does Veg Fest only have vegan food and products when your association has vegetarian in the name?
A: The NCVA promotes plant-based diets, and wants to show people all of the amazing plant-based foods that are available. Cheese, dairy, eggs and so on are all readily available everywhere, and are not plant-based, so the NCVA sees no need to include them at Veg Fest. Having a vegan-only policy also ensures that people at all points on the veg spectrum can enjoy the offerings at Veg Fest without the normal struggle of constant label reading. This includes NCVA volunteers, the majority of whom are vegan. Veg Fest strives to be a safe place for those who wish to keep animals and animal products off their plates.
Q: Can you guarantee me that everything at Veg Fest is 100% vegan?
A: The only way that anyone can guarantee that is to make their own food all of the time. The NCVA requires its exhibitors to sign an agreement which statess that they understand the Veg Fest rules and regulations, which includes that all products being sold and promoted at Veg Fest be vegan. We clearly explain the definition of vegan, and we try to screen the exhibitors the best we can to ensure that their products/services are suitable for vegans. We do our very best, but cannot be held liable if there is a rogue exhibitor. If it is brought to our attention, we will address the issue as quickly as possible.
Q: So how do I show my appreciation to this fabulous organization that is doing so much to advance the veg cause in the Ottawa Community? 😉
A: That’s easy! For one thing, come to Veg Fest. Once you’re there, become a NCVA member. It is $20 for the year and has some awesome discounts at restaurants like Cafe My House, ZenKitchen, and The Table. Plus, you are supporting a small volunteer organization to make a difference. And if you are totally inspired, then consider joining us as a volunteer. We could always use more enthusiastic people on our team.
For the month of March, CBC News: Ottawa co-hosts Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld and Adrian Harewood each embarked on new diets as part of the CBC’s Food for Thought project. Adrian tested out a meat-rich Paleo diet, while Lucy spent the month of March as a vegan. Both anchors received advice from experts and celebrities who practice the respective diets. In Lucy’s case, many of Ottawa’s vegan who’s who pitched in, including Chef Caroline Ishii of ZenKitchen and Wellness Warrior’s Deb Gleason.
At the end of her month, Lucy decided to continue on the vegan path, and she’s now going to put her newfound expertise to good use as a mentor to the 31-Day Vegan Challenge participants undertaking a vegan diet during the month of May. (We are up to 30 challenge takers, to-date.)
Lucy will be at Veg Fest on April 29 between noon and 3 p.m. and will speak about her experience, and answer people’s questions about going vegan.
We asked Lucy a few questions ahead of time about her experience.
NCVA: How was being vegan different from (or similar to) what you were expecting? What WERE you expecting?
Lucy: I think the month really did meet my expectations. I expected to feel more energetic, and to eat healthier food. Although, I don’t feel nearly as ‘deprived’ as I thought I would. With great desserts from Auntie Loo and gourmet cuisine from ZenKitchen, you won’t feel too much like you’re missing out on delicious food.
Q: What were your favourite things about being vegan for a month? Any scary moments?
A: My favourite thing by far was how great I felt. After the initial ‘detox’ feeling, headache-y and nausea (three to four days) things have felt terrific. One ‘scary’ moment during the month was getting half-way through a ‘vegan’ meal at a friend’s place and have her say, “oh, we used chicken broth in that.” In the grand scheme of things not a big deal, you do the best you can!
Q: Tell us about the support you received from the veg community.
A: Immediately people began tweeting me recipes, advice and tips. It has been terrific.
Q: What is your personal plan going forward?
A: I plan to stick with it without becoming too fundamentalist. What I mean is, there may come a time where healthy vegan food isn’t available and it’s a choice between peanut butter sandwiches on white bread or fresh fish… or something….so I don’t want to box myself in. My plan is to stay as vegan as possible! And so far, so good.
Q: Time to impart your wisdom; what advice do you have for people embarking on the NCVA’s 31-day Vegan Challenge?
A: The first four days are grim and there are times when it feels like all you’re doing is chopping and cooking, but this will pass. You’ll start to feel better soon and you will get more efficient as meal prep and freezing stuff.
He specializes in American history, and in the environmental history of the United States. He writes for the The Texas Observer and the History News Service, has a regular column in The Atlantic, and has published op-eds on food in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.
He will make his presentation, An Alternative to the Alternatives — Why Sustainable Animal Agriculture Is No Answer to Industrial Agriculturefrom 2:30-3:45 p.m. on April 29 at Veg Fest.
NCVA volunter Dee Campbell-Giura grilled him recently with some questions so we can all get to know him a bit better.
Dee: When did you become a vegan? Was it a process from omni to veg, or were you raised vegan?
Dr. James McWilliams: I became a vegetarian in 2007, largely for ecological reasons, while doing research on animal agriculture for my last book Just Food. I became a vegan a year later, largely for ethical reasons this time, after reading Gary Francione’s Animals as Persons, Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, and watching a video of how a mother cow reacts after her calf is taken from her. The interesting thing about both of these choices is that, momentous as they were in life, I made them with little reflection. The truth of the matter seemed immediately obvious. There was little deliberation (which is highly out of character for me). I simply trusted my instinct and am glad that I did.
Dee: What do you say to people who worry that going vegan will be too hard?
McWilliams: I get a little annoyed when vegans say going vegan is easy. That’s like an accomplished athlete saying that what she does is easy. Every worthwhile decision comes with a learning curve. Every confrontation of the status quo comes with challenges. Making responsible ethical and environmental choices comes with challenges. All that said, eating a plant-based diet, when done properly, provides so many benefits–tangible and intangible– that these challenges eventually fade. Many non-vegans think of veganism as making a sacrifice. But most committed vegans who center their diets on a broad diversity of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes experience a brave new world of unexplored flavors. New culinary possibilities open. I currently eat a far wider range of foods than I did when I ate meat and dairy.
Naturally, traveling, social events, and holidays can pose unique challenges–they always will. There’s no formula for dealing with them. What I have found, though, is that these challenges provide useful opportunities to reify why you eat the way you eat. They inspire reflection and reinforce the intentionality of eating. They can, regrettably, also inspire unsupportive reactions from people who don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, your commitment to avoiding animal products. I deeply believe, however, that one should never compromise his or her belief system for the sole purpose of avoiding conflict. Still, the vast majority of my experiences as a vegan in a non-vegan world have been overwhelming affirmative of the basic goodness of humanity. I know that sounds a little overblown, but it’s true.
Many potential vegans think that they’ll become weak, tired, and malnourished. It is for this reason that I am especially happy to note that I’m a marathoner and ultra-marathoner, and that my times and my workouts have improved dramatically since becoming a vegan. Hell, forget me–look at Scott Jurek, the world’s best ultra-runner!
Dee: Which of your achievement(s) makes you feel the most proud?
McWilliams: Honestly, none. I’m my harshest critic, which is saying a lot if you consider the criticism sent my way by advocates of animal agriculture. One aspect of my work that I am a little pleased about, though, is the fact that I was able to bring a serious consideration of animal ethics to a venue as mainstream as the Atlantic. In this case, though, I’m more proud of the Atlantic than myself.
Dee: You have said that as long as we live in a society that believes it’s okay to eat meat, we’re always going to have factory farming. Give us hope, or a reality check: is the tide turning?
McWilliams: I’m afraid it’ll have to be a reality check. It’s natural to seek hope when you’re deeply engaged in a cause. However, when it comes to animal agriculture, which is growing exponentially in the developing world, I see little hope. (If you doubt this, take a road trip across the United States.) As you suggest in your question, the major voices in agricultural reform today are so ideologically wedded to the implausible notion of small scale, environmentally sound, and welfare-oriented animal farms that they refuse to confront the underlying ethics of what these farms are doing.
Many of these writers and filmmakers think that they’re exploring the ethical foundation of their actions, but they aren’t. They’re under the burden of justifying the unnecessary suffering of sentient beings, and they refuse to make that justification (probably because it cannot be done). I believe this point more than anything I’ve ever written:until eating animals is stigmatized, factory farms will dominate the production of animals. I don’t even think small, welfare-oriented systems are a step in the right direction. After all, they ultimately reify the act that’s at the core of factory farming: eating animals.
Dee: If you could produce a TV ad to promote vegan advocacy, who would you cast?
McWilliams: Rip Esselstyn, of The Engine 2 Diet. He “works” as an advocate of veganism not only because he’s an articulate and compassionate guy, but because, well, he’s a guy. And he’s a fireman guy. And he a big muscles guy. Not to sound flip or shallow, but we are talking about a TV ad after all, and the hardest demographic to reach with veganism includes men who think eating animals (and sometimes killing them themselves) in integral to manhood. Rip oozes masculinity, and reminds us that real men (whatever that means!) can be vegans.
Dee: You specialize in American history. How and when did you merge your interest in American history with food sustainability?
McWilliams: I’ve spent my career writing and researching the history of American agriculture. Very little about this history is pleasant. Very little. It’s marked by human and animal suffering, disease, ceaseless exploitation, and environmental degradation. So, about ten years ago, when advocates of small scale agriculture started saying we needed to return to pre-industrial agricultural models, I decided it was time to step out of the ivory tower and start shouting. When I wrote a piece critical of the locavore movement in the New York Times in 2007, a number of opportunities rolled my way. Protected by academic tenure, I decided to embrace them. In time, I become a rarity: an academic activist. It’s a role I’m still warming to, and juggling with the normal rounds of academic responsibilities (like, uh, teaching).
Dee: As a new vegan, I often meet resistance and derision by family and friends. I’d love to hear how you respond(ed?) to this in your own life. Yes, I know Dr McWilliams isn’t a self-help columnist, but most vegans experience this and well, it saves me asking him on April 29.
McWilliams: I touched on that in my answer to question #2, but what I would add is this: be empathic of others’ intolerance, never apologize, stick to your values, remember that animals need your voice to be strong, and, most important, maintain a sense of humor. Really, a sense of humor goes a long way.
Dee: Can you give us a glimpse at what you’ll be talking about at Ottawa Veg Fest?
McWilliams: I’ll be speaking about the environmental, economic, and ethical problems with the alternatives that have been proposed to industrial animal agriculture. Many consumers believe that if they source their animal products from small-scale, organic, pasture-based farms then they are making a genuine choice against factory farming. I will argue that this opinion is wrong, thereby reiterating that the most powerful choice we can make to oppose industrial animal agriculture is to go vegan.
Think you’d like to try a vegan diet, but not ready to commit? Try the Ottawa 31-Day Vegan Challenge. The NCVA will support you along the way, with recipes, tips, resources, movie nights, meet-ups and more!
My name is Raphaël; I’ve been volunteering with the NCVA for more than a year and I love it!
I’m particularly excited about tabling on behalf of the NCVA at the National Women’s Show next month because nearly 20,000 people visited this exhibition last year. According to the organizers, it’s The Ultimate Girl’s Day Out!
This is excellent opportunity for each one of us to connect with others to share information about plant-based lifestyles, but also to tell everyone all about Ottawa Veg Fest ’12.
I would like to invite you to volunteer with the NCVA at this show. This is the biggest show that the NCVA has ever been a part of, and an incredible outreach opportunity. We need several volunteers to be at the NCVA table at all times, to ensure we can talk to as many people as possible!
Our awesome supporters Credible Edibles, Simply Raw Express, Auntie Loo’s Treats, and Café My House will be providing samples for us to share with show visitors.
Come and join me, and the NCVA’s wonderful volunteers, in our biggest outreach effort next to Veg Fest! If you can offer a few hours of your time, please email email@example.com with your expression of interest.
Every year, a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into creating Veg Fest. As you may know, Veg Fest is 100 per cent volunteer organized, and it takes many hundreds of volunteer hours to bring it to life.
But one thing we have not had to worry about is having the cash to pay for expenses, and that is thanks to our wonderful event sponsors. Without their support, we would need to spend even more time fundraising, scrounging up money, and penny pinching.
It is to their credit that we do not. Simon Saab of The Table Vegetarian Restaurant in particular has been an avid and constant NCVA supporter, and we could not have reached our current level of success without his support. Once again, for the fourth year running The Table Vegetarian Restaurant is the title sponsor for Ottawa Veg Fest.
This year, we have a new silver level sponsor joining the ranks, SimplyRaw Express. You may be wondering, SimplyRaw Express… is that like, SimplyRaw on speed?
The answer is a resounding NO. SimplyRaw Express is Ottawa’s unique fresh juice bar and takeaway, which will be opening in late April at 989 Wellington St. West in Hintonburg. That’s right, around the same time as Veg Fest! Good timing, huh?
It will offer organic juices and smoothies, raw vegan dishes, quinoa bowls, delicious desserts as well as culinary workshops, detoxification and nutritional programs. Its food will be completely vegan, as well as soy and gluten-free.
“Ottawa Veg Fest has played an important role in raising awareness of and promoting the vegan lifestyle in the Ottawa community. As dedicated raw vegans, Mark and I are thrilled that SimplyRaw Express is a silver level sponsor for the fourth Ottawa Veg Fest. We always enjoy this fun, well-organized and high energy event, and becoming a sponsor is an excellent fit!” Natasha told us.
Introducing the silver level sponsors for this year’s Ottawa Veg Fest:
I was feeling a bit of cabin fever and a desire for waffles, so I suggested a last-minute overnighter to Montreal to my husband. He never says no to that.
As my friends know, I am a bit of a creature of habit. In terms of the big picture stuff, I am quite comfortable making quick and far-reaching decisions, but for the day-to-day things, I don’t stray far outside of my norm. The staff at most of my local haunts know what I am going to order, I go to bed at roughly the same time every night, I like the laundry done a certain way. That sort of thing.
So I was thrown for a loop when I learned that Chu Chai, where I stop for dinner every time I go to Montreal is temporarily closed. I was alarmed. Where would I eat? That’s where I always go! Deciding what company to hire to replace my home’s roof? No problem. Finding a replacement restaurant for dinner? Panic-inciting.
I took to happycow.net to see what was new in Montreal, and I came across Su Shian Yuang, a relatively new Taiwanese veg restaurant. It was just down the street from Chu Chai, which offered some comfort. We would give it a try.
But first, a stop at Viva Vegan, the all-vegan store a few blocks over on St-Laurent Blvd. I wanted to buy some pastries for the morning. Sadly, I learned that their woman who was supplying their almondine and chocolate croissants is no longer doing so, but on the plus side, they had cinnamon rolls. Sold! I also grabbed an assortment of vegan candy bars, two gluten-free cupcakes (which were actually phenomenal) and several types of buillion, since I have been on a soup making craze.
Then it was on to Su Shian Yuang. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, or the inside, although there were cute wall decals and the lights were dimmed just enough. The service was gracious, and the server seemed to genuinely be thrilled to receive thanks and appreciation.
We ordered two appetizers– crispy Imperial rolls and avocado sushi. Appetizers were inexpensive, in the $4-5 range. The Imperial rolls were good, although not quite at the level that they were at Sacred Garden (RIP). But the sushi was excellent. Considering I make avocado sushi at home regularly, I was not expecting to be amazed and impressed, but I was. Yves complained for the rest of dinner that he wanted more, and I have to admit, so did I.
Next came the main courses. I couldn’t decide between two, so I ordered both (I should note that I had one of the four Imperial rolls and one of the six sushi pieces). I selected the General Tao Tofu, and a mixed veg stir-fry, not because it sounded particularly interesting, but because I wanted to make sure I ate enough vegetables for the day. Yves chose the bibimbop.
The mixed vegetables were fine; they were cooked exactly the right amount, and the sauce was non-descript. Pieces of what I believe was wheat gluten were interspersed. Nothing spectacular, but a good vegetable conduit, and the type of dish you could safely recommend to a frightened omni with no sense of taste adventure.
The General Tao Tofu was, on the other hand, excellent. The tofu was fried to a perfect consistency, and the sauce was tangy, and had just the right amount of spicyness. It came tossed with peppers and bok choy, helping it pretend to be healthy I suppose. As for Yves’ bibimbop, he liked it perfectly fine, but has been spoiled by two years of Cafe My House’s signature bibimbop. He said this one was good, but less interesting than Cafe My House’s rendition, and that he would have preferred more sushi.
The next morning we headed to Aux Vivres for brunch, another Montreal ritual for us. But I was conflicted. I had been craving waffles for about a week, thanks to Julia Cropley and Dee Campbell-Giura’s brunch musings on the NCVA Facebook page. On the other hand, I adore their polenta dish, which happens to come with more vegetables. My solution: I had Yves order one extra waffle for me (for $4), and ordered the polenta for myself.
And of course, both were utterly delicious. The waffles were delightfully chewy, and sopped up their sides wonderfully. The polenta was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and made an excellent utensil for the black beans, guac, and pico de gallo. I enjoyed every bite. Both brunch items come with your choice of coffee or chai tea. I chose coffee, noting the cute little frothed soy milk side that they bring with it.
Before we hit the road, we decided to stop at Crudessence for some take out. It had been a while since we had been there, but I had spent much of my car ride to Montreal talking to Natasha Kyssa of Simply Raw so I could practically feel her frowning at me for the fried tofu and cinnamon buns. I know that she knows that I know better. This would be my way of making it up to her.
At Crudessence, I ordered what I had eaten the past two times I went there, their raw lasagne. Super thin layers of zucchini, enrobed in tangy sun-dried tomato sauce and accented with nut-based raw cheezes. It was, as I had recalled, delicious. It came with a side “caesar” salad, including carrots and sprouts. I ate it all, out of respect for Natasha.
Yves chose the Om Burger, which is mushroom based. He often chooses mushroom-y things when we eat out, because I loathe them and never use them at home. Its bun was a mash of dehydrated seeds and vegetables, which he was not keen on, but other than that, he was pretty pleased.
Before heading out, we stopped at Paradis Vegetarien, where you can find almost any type of faux meat imagineable. Erin and Neil had some requirements, and I was happy to oblige. I chatted with Jimmy, the owner, about Veg Fest. He will be coming, by the way.
Montreal is a great place for vegans to visit for even just for a day or two, because it packs a lot of punch. The area bordered by Sherbrooke, Saint Joseph, St-Laurent and St-Denis is practically a vegan paradise, with lots of little independent shops to boot. Go there.
On occasion, the NCVA will support like-minded organizations to draw attention to an issue du jour.
So when José Dimayuga from Ecology Ottawa contacted the NCVA, looking to get a bit of exposure for an Action Alert that organization is undertaking, we thought this should be one of those times. Raise your hand if you are in FAVOUR of dumping sewage into the Ottawa River! Didn’t think so.
If you’ve ever been disappointed by a beach closure due to E. coli, or perturbed by the wafting scent of sewage on a warm summer day while strolling along the Ottawa River, this is an Action Alert that will resonate with you.
Read on for the latest. The following was provided by Ecology Ottawa.
Every year, the City of Ottawa dumps hundreds of millions of litres of untreated sewage directly into the Ottawa River. Now you have an opportunity to help stop this travesty once and for all. The province and the City of Ottawa have developed a plan, and both both agreed to put up their fair share of the money. All we need is federal funding in the upcoming 2012 federal budget. Click here to let Ottawa area members of parliament know that you want action to clean up the river! http://ecologyottawa.ca/our-community/take-action/ottawa-river-action-plan/
The city has developed the Ottawa River Action Plan to address this issue and the plan is already delivering results. In June, the city announced that recent infrastructure upgrades have cut the untreated sewage going into the river by more than half compared to measurements of four years ago. However, in 2011, the city still discharged 417-million litres of combined sewage and rainwater into the river—that is the equivalent of almost 166 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of sewage!
City council would like to move forward with the next phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan—the construction of major combined sewage overflow (CSO) storage facilities. CSO storage facilities will lower the amount of contaminants released to the Ottawa River, improving the water quality and possibly reducing the number of beach closures.
According to Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown, who has endorsed this letter-writing campaign, it is imperative that the city moves ahead with the Ottawa River Action Plan, with or without federal support. “But,” says Brown, “the Ottawa River is a key feature of the National Capital Region. The federal government should be doing everything it can to stop the dumping of untreated sewage in the river that runs through the nation’s capital.”
The province has indicated its willingness to contribute one-third of the cost, but the federal government has not yet made a similar commitment. We want to urge the federal government to commit to its third of the funding in the federal 2012 Budget. This is why we set-up an online letter writing campaign and we are asking you to go the website and write to your local Member of Parliament today: http://ecologyottawa.ca/our-community/take-action/ottawa-river-action-plan/
Please send a quick letter now to all Ottawa area MPs urging them to ensure that funding for the Ottawa River Action Plan is included in the federal 2012 Budget. The health of our rivers depends on you demanding action from our elected officials today.