October 25, 2019

Health is a powerful weapon. It may not be a violent, conventional weapon, yet it is a tool that can be equipped to maximize human potential. The journey to health is one of self-discovery, empowerment, peace and renewal. 

There are many reasons people give for transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Often they cite a combination of factors, related to the ethics of consuming or harming animals, the environmental degradation associated with animal agriculture, and negative health effects of consuming animal products. Although the final argument is contentious within health circles, with opposing parties all eager to claim they hold the antidote to humanity’s nutritional woes, there are many proven health benefits linked to a vegetarian diet. 

In 2018, the Progress in Cardiovascular Disease report showed that a vegetarian diet lowers an individual’s risk of heart disease by an average of 40%. When properly planned, a whole foods plant based diet can stave off some of North America’s greatest health culprits, such as; osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. Animal protein is rich in saturated fat, which can build unhealthy levels of cholesterol within the body and endanger the heart through arterial narrowing. Vegetarians are found to have lower BMIs on average, as plant-forward diets typically feature more nutrient-dense and less calorically dense foods. 

Particularly when departing from the Standard American Diet, the journey to a plant-based diet has the potential to completely shift an individual’s relationship with food. This lifestyle is empowering, as it enables vegetarians to mindfully choose each day which foods they will eat. No meal is a given, as it may have been prior to this change. When following the ways of our parents, culture and religion without question, we blindly subscribe to notions of familiarity. Inhabiting this mindset, there is little space for independent thought. Conversely, a plant-based diet involves a conscious shift towards a new way of life. In this daily decision-making, we have no choice but to be mindful. New questions enter our minds, and new solutions are discovered. 

Community is a vital component of the health equation. VVS is one example of a healthy, sustainable and compassionate community, but we are only one player in Vancouver’s prolific wellness scene. If it is possible to surround yourself with individuals who share your values, then you are much more likely to follow through with your goals. What better opportunity exists for your path to self-improvement than to be encouraged by like-minded peers? You deserve to be part of a group that supports and reinforces your beliefs, rather than having to fight against the tide of negativity that floods our world today. 

It is not a universal phenomenon, but for many, changes in diet can be the first domino to fall in the path of pursuing health changes in all directions. There is power to be enjoyed in the knowledge that you are capable of changing something as fundamental to your existence as the food you consume. If this is possible, why should other lifestyle changes evade you? 

Many individuals who have made the switch from omnivorous to plant-focused diets report higher energy levels with an increased desire to exercise. Living in a place as beautiful as British Columbia, there are ample opportunities to explore the natural environment. With your newfound energy and stamina, you will be well-equipped to make the most of the mountains, forests and bountiful bodies of water that endow our province with its spectacular reputation. Fortunately, regular exercise is linked to improved mood, better sleep patterns, lower stress levels, and a slew of physical health benefits.

For those who prioritize health, the benefits need not be limited to individual gains. When we are able to take care of our own needs, we are better able to care for our friends, family and community. We know that we have benefited from positive lifestyle changes, so we can wholeheartedly recommend these pursuits to those we care about. There is no underestimating the power of influence, which is as effective in the online world as it is in business or politics. 

Moreover, why should we stop at meeting our own health needs? Empowered by the positive feeling of eating well and exercising, we have the potential to be better stewards of our natural world. Compassion and diligence engineer progress towards a kinder future. If we are not crippled by our own doubts and problems, we can ambitiously tackle the issues facing our world. Individual wellness sparks the opportunity to pursue societal wellness. Let us move consciously in the direction of our dreams, for there is no mountain too steep for human potential.

July 3, 2019

Many people are searching for ways to help animals, after hearing distressing news about mass extinctions, declining biodiversity, and the malpractice of various industries from energy to fashion. Beyond the obvious switch of leaving meat off your plate, there are many ways you can make a difference. Here are 10 ideas to get you started. Only your imagination and personal limits keep you from doing more and being a true hero to animals!

Reduce or eliminate single-use plastics 

Everyone has seen the horrifying imagery of plastic-covered beaches and marine animals strangled by 6-pack rings. Our culture of instant gratification and consumerism have allowed packaging to be a disposable product, overturning millennia of more sustainable human behaviours. Cloth, baskets, wooden chests or glassware have been the standard for packaging until the plastic revolution of the 1960s.

In the efforts to reduce your plastic use, there are a few simply behaviour changes you can implement. The planet and the animals will thank you! Try bringing a reusable water bottle and coffee mug with you when you go out. Include a few simple items like chopsticks, cutlery, and containers for anytime you might eat food on-the-go. Opt for a reusable or cloth bag for groceries and decline plastic bags wherever possible. The changes may seem daunting at first, but you’ll feel great knowing that your actions make a considerable impact and prevent animal suffering.

Be mindful of cleaning products

Along with the ubiquitous presence of plastics, synthetic chemicals have become a mainstay in Western markets and households. We are subject to countless marketing messages that insist chemical cleaning products are the only way to go, and ensure your countertops are “free from 99.9% of bacteria”. Although they may be effective at removing whatever dirt or grime is plaguing your home, they are also “effective” at poisoning marine life, contaminating water systems, and disrupting ecological stability.

The better option is to search for natural cleaning products that are biodegradable and septic-safe, or even make cleaners yourself. Here is a simple all-purpose cleaner that will save money while cleaning your home!

Plant a tree

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard this piece of advice, and it certainly won’t be the last. Given current trends of deforestation and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, maintaining a healthy level of trees is more important than ever. By planting a tree, you can provide a habitat for squirrels, birds, and beavers, potentially food for yourself and animals, and help reduce air and noise pollution.

Cut out palm oil

The harvest of palm oil is connected to rainforest deforestation and is quickly depleting the remaining habitats for orangutans. As palm oil is currently used in products ranging from shampoo to candy, overturning this habit is a difficult but worthwhile endeavour. Try reading the ingredients on any product you want to buy, and if palm oil is on the list, try to find a more sustainable alternative. There should be few cases where the option won’t exist.

Adopt, don’t shop

There’s no doubt about it, Vancouverites love their “fur babies”. Nevertheless, the number of homeless animals is staggering. Cat shelters are almost always at capacity, and countless animals are regularly surrendered due to strict no-pet guidelines for most apartments in the city. While it may feel nicer to buy a pet, we could alternatively save an animal’s life while working towards reducing animal homelessness.

Separate entertainment from exploitation

From horse drawn carriage rides to zoo visits or circus shows, many popular activities are notorious for exploiting animals. We force animals to perform repetitive tasks or tricks, confine them away from their natural habitats, separate them from their families, and repress natural behaviours. We play god over these creatures, forgetting that they feel pain and emotion just like ourselves.

Rest assured that it is still possible to enjoy your vacation or field trip without the animals paying for it. Trade zoo visits for sanctuaries. Ride bikes, not horses or elephants. Circus animals should be replaced by robots or holograms, as has recently been introduced at the German circus Roncalli.

Support rescue and conservation organizations

If you are feeling generous and looking for a worthy cause to support, Vancouver has a plethora of worthy conservation organizations. Given the climate crisis and accelerated rates of habitat loss, it is more important than ever to protect remaining ecosystems and support the growth of new ones.

A few of these vital organizations that you may consider supporting are Wildlife Rescue Association, the BCSPCA, the BC Wildlife Federation, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Nature Trust BC, and the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society.

Buy from brands that don’t test on animals

This may be a no-brainer for some conscious consumers, but the degree of popular brands that still test on animals is astounding. Research the companies you frequently buy from – it’s worth knowing what cruelty your money may be supporting. Lush is a great local brand that is known for its cruelty-free message, and as a bonus they also support the package-free movement. For makeup, consider brands like KatVonD, Desert Essence, elf, Jason, NYX or The Body Shop, which are all committed to eradicating cosmetic testing on animals.

Avoid pesticides and bug sprays

Although often considered a cheap and easy fix for pest problems, these chemical aerosols take a toll on the environment. When applied in gardens or fields, pesticides that kill off the intended intruder often doom beneficial pollinators like bees and birds as well.

Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is a proven insect repellent, so don’t hesitate to swap out your bug spray for this natural alternative. For gardens, reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides by mulching the soil, companion planting, introducing natural predators like ladybugs, and sprinkling diatomaceous earth powder around your plants.

Plant a pollinator garden

We all know by now the scary news about declining bee populations. Careless use of pesticides and urban development have wrecked the habitats of bees all over the world. Although we are fortunate in British Columbia to enjoy abundant green spaces, urban sprawl and agriculture has nevertheless affected pollinator levels. One easy way to combat this trend while beautifying your space is to plant native flowers like fawn lilies, red columbines, coastal strawberry and camas.

July 1, 2019

It’s not you. It’s a lifetime of conditioning. Most cultures throughout history have eaten animals. Some may take this to insinuate that it’s the only way, but here at the Vancouver Vegetarian Society, we’re not afraid to think for ourselves. Changing times called for changed behaviours. After all, if there is a way to simultaneously help animals, save the environment, and heal ourselves, what are we waiting for?

For those new to vegetarianism, the world of plant-based food may seem daunting. Your responsibility manifests as rewriting all the rules and habits that you’ve grown accustomed to. It’s no small feat, so give yourself a pat on the back for taking the leap. Not everyone is brave enough to do so.

There are a few cultural food staples that some people defend as the only reason they could never go vegetarian. For the stubborn or uninspired, we offer a few suggestions!


Are you even in North America if you don’t enjoy a burger on the BBQ in the summer? There is no denying that a succulent patty on a toasted bun with fresh veggies and condiments is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, just because we want to enjoy our meal, does not mean that any animal lives must be sacrificed!

Throughout Vancouver, the “Beyond Burger” is taking the fast food world by storm. And for good reason! This 100% plant-based patty delivers all the satisfaction of a meat burger without killing any cows. It is the perfect option for those swayed by the ethical or environmental ramifications of meat consumption, but reluctant to give up the taste of a favourite meal. Lucky for us, the burger is featured in menus from A&W to Tim Hortons to Meet (and everything in between), and available at many grocery stores.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling inspired in the kitchen, veggie burgers are a fun and functional way to get all the nutrition your body needs to thrive. Rather than confining vegetables as toppings, incorporating legumes, root vegetables, nuts and seeds into the burger itself is a great way to add essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to your favourite comfort food.


Despite the abundant array of plant mylks available in stores and cafes these days, many people are still reluctant to eschew cow’s milk. This makes sense. Milk is firmly embedded in the culinary culture of most cultures, and given our mammalian sensibilities, it invokes a sense of comfort and well-being that only a mother could provide. However, at the end of the day, cow’s milk is intended for calves, not adult humans. The cruelty of the dairy industry should be enough to push us away from continued consumption of this stolen beverage.

Soy milk is one of the most ubiquitous dairy substitutes. It is accessible in most grocery stores and cafes for a convenient switch. Fortunately, more and more locations are catching on to providing more non-dairy mylks. Whether it be almond, coconut, or oat, rest assured that you will get accustomed to the different taste and take comfort in knowing that your enjoyment is cruelty-free!


The much sought-after game day appetizer, the Wednesday night hors d’oeuvres of choice, wings are undeniably an omnivore favourite. At first thought, wings might be considered impossible to make out of plants, but this is a conclusion for those who lack imagination.

Vegetarians can finally rejoice with the plethora of plant-based restaurants that cater to every whim, healthy or indulgent. In Vancouver, cauliflower wings have become the star feature of starter menus. To indulge in this kinder, lower cholesterol treat, visit restaurants like Meet, the food truck Rolling Cashew, or What’s Up? Hot Dog!. You could even try prepping the recipe at home yourself with an easy recipe like this one:


The last stronghold of many omnivores, cheese is an understandably difficult product to replicate. Millennia of experimentation and craftsmanship have contributed to transforming a humble bovine secretion into one of the most ubiquitous guilty pleasures around. When people think they must give up this integral part of their diets, they are typically defensive and reluctant. Let it then be our responsibility, fellow vegetarians, to prove that we can be inspired by the best of cheesemaking artisanship without abusing any cows!

At first glance, a cashew, coconut, or soybean may not seem like the right choice for making plant-based cheese, but in the hands of an expert, the transformation is astounding. The beauty of dairy-free cheese is that it can be a nutritious, low-cholesterol addition to the diet, rather than an indulgent diversion. To enjoy the best of both worlds, try Blue Heron’s famous cheeses. We promise you won’t miss the dairy.


Given the diversity of Vancouver and our position as a port city, fish has been a staple in most Vancouverites’ diets for centuries (including the culinary traditions of the first peoples). While fish may have been a nutritious and practical food in the past, this is not the case today. The fishing industry is notoriously unsustainable and cruel. Fishing trawlers scrape the ocean floor to maximize catch numbers, destroying fragile coral reefs and polluting the waters. Fishing nets frequently ensnare animals like dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds, casually disregarded as “bycatch”.

While seafood may seem like a harmless and tasty choice on the surface, there are many ethical and environmental reasons to abstain. If you frequent sushi restaurants, try ordering the cucumber, tofu, avocado, or yam rolls. Even most poke restaurants should have vegetarian options that sub fish for tofu. If you prefer to cook, try marinating tomato or carrot in soy sauce and seaweed for that perfect umami flavour.

June 10, 2019

Actions individuals, businesses and government can take to tackle climate change

The Power of One

Being a vegetarian society, this advice probably won’t surprise you, but we’ll hammer it home just for good measure. The single biggest thing an individual can do to curb their emissions and ensure a healthy planet for future generations is to stop eating meat.

The animal agriculture industry is directly responsible for up to 18% of global emissions. Beef is 60 times more carbon intensive than legume production. Livestock grazing land accounts for almost 80% of all agricultural land use globally. We use wasteful irrigation systems that suck up between 70 to 90% of freshwater on agriculture. Almost half of all food grown is fed to animals, which even disregarding any ethical framework is an absolutely inefficient way to get calories to hungry people. When the world’s population is projected to swell to 10 billion in the next 30 years, it is not time to waste any resources on cruel, unsustainable production of animal products.

Beyond a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are several steps an individual can take to lower their carbon footprint. More eco-friendly transportation options like public transport, biking or walking can supplement or replace personal vehicles. Those in sunny climates can install solar panels to reduce their demand of fossil fuel-generated energy. In temperate climates like coastal British Columbia, households can think critically about their heating and cooling needs and apply energy-smart practices to save money while saving on emissions.

True eco-warriors may rise to the challenge of completely uphauling their consumption habits. Some environmentalists feel business and government are not doing nearly enough to curb climate change, and decide to radically change their behaviour for the sake of the planet. This could mean anything from cutting out single-use plastics, to avoiding fast-fashion retailers, limiting imported goods, supporting local products,  advocating for environmental policy reform, and so much more. We should take any action that is feasible to reduce our carbon footprints, because the Earth is crying out for change.

The Impact Multiplier

Whatever an individual can do to reduce their environmental impact, a business can scale up the positivity for meaningful and systematic change. The ingredients, water, packaging or by-products used by any production business, for example, exponentially outweigh those used by a single person.

True to the nature of social justice movements, corporate action is inspired by individual action and consumer demand. Now more than ever, consumers want sustainable options. Any business that ignores this market change is going to suffer the consequences of lost customers.

To understand the effect of sustainable business decisions, one only has to look at the success of organizations like 4Ocean, Ecosia, Patagonia or Lush. Particularly in Vancouver, consumers are attracted to businesses that share and amplify their values.

While business owners may have justifiable concerns about the increased costs associated with sustainable practices, these will surely be offset in the long-run with future generations actually alive to thank us. Some practices, like switching out car deliveries for bike deliveries, or implementing water conservation policies, may even save money in the short run.

Food retailers and distributors can focus on local or domestic suppliers that don’t require the same transportation emissions as international sourcing. Plastic packaging can be replaced with paper or fabric alternatives that look nicer and could even be cheaper if strategically sourced. HR could organize team building events centered around planting native plants in the area, clearing plastic from nearby beaches, or other green activities that serve the company while serving the community.

There are far more suggestions to green the workplace, or even create new businesses centred around sustainable values! The only limitations are self-imposed. Saving the environment does not have to mean compromising profits, it just means a healthy adjustment for the sake of the Earth that sustains us all.

Of Regulations and Ripple-Effects

Love it or hate it, government is the framework by which all large-scale environmental policy decisions are implemented. Government may be slow to act, but when leaders and policy makers can translate public opinion into action, the effects are monumental.

The disastrous effects of climate change are difficult to ignore, even at the national level. Whether it’s citizens petitioning their representatives, protestors crying out for change, or celebrities launching global environmental awareness campaigns, politicians from every party must contend with the climate reality.

If leaders fail to act, they will have more than the next election to worry about. But the good news is that sustainable policies could enhance the popularity for certain politicians, while ensuring we all have a planet to live on. Rather than subsidizing the most polluting industries, governments should encourage green innovation and subsidize more sustainable business practices. Even disregarding fiscal policy, simple bans on the most toxic and polluting substances could have a tremendous impact. The problem is bigger than a plastic straw ban. If our society genuinely wants to curb plastic pollution, governments should ban single-use plastics. There are better options out there, even at a competitive price point.

As controversial as carbon taxes are, they could be an incredibly effective tool for lowering our societal carbon footprint. Something as destructive as polluting the atmosphere should not be free or without consequence. If leaders are concerned with the costs falling on the least fortunate, profits from the largest polluters can be used to offset higher prices for consumers and empower them to make more sustainable decisions at home.

There are innumerable small policy steps that governments can take, and there is no shortage of policy recommendations that they can start with. However, beyond just looking at the current problems that plague us, we should also mindfully strategize for the future. Governments could look at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) as a model for incubating sustainable technologies and supporting world-changing research projects.

The Crux of it All

Tackling climate change must be a multi-level, systematic approach. Individual actions, like using a reusable water bottle, have to be balanced and reinforced by systematic changes. It was not individual consumers who created climate change, but a wide-scale miscalculation on humanity’s part. We have had decades of artificial abundance, now it is time to face the reality and repercussions of our decisions to build a better world.

May 25, 2019

They have found their niche in the city of green, glass, and endless rain. Vancouver is undeniably home to vegetarians and vegans aplenty, yet where do they go to eat and be merry? Once upon a time, dining out plant-based meant a depressing fate of ordering fries and a side salad. This unfortunate scenario no longer has to be your reality, not with so many cutting-edge individuals paving the way to a new lifestyle: one that’s sustainable, compassionate, and delectably delicious.

Erin Ireland, To Die For

The entrepreneurs, activists, and community members that have contributed to making Vancouver a plant-based heaven could not be contained in a single blog article. For a relatively small city of 600,000 residents, this city certainly punches above its weight when it comes to veggie options.

In celebration of our city that embraces sustainable, ethical, and innovative living, let’s recognize some of the pioneers that make this lifestyle possible and even exciting.

Your world will never be the same after you try Erin Ireland’s banana bread. Maybe that’s why her company is aptly named “To Die For”. We’d surely consider trading our souls for an endless supply of that chocolate-y, decadent quick bread. Existential dessert crises aside, Ireland’s origins may surprise the most avid proponent of these plant based pastries. Before going vegan, Ireland worked as a full-time food reporter who strictly followed every food trend, whether it be “bacon everything” or Epic Mealtime style feasts.

After she watched some life-changing documentaries, the lens with which she looked at the food industry was completely shattered. She yearned for the broken system to improve, and so she shifted her professional focus to businesses that were making positive changes. Ireland believes it is her personal mission to spread sustainable and healthy living through the community, whether that be by baking banana and lemon loaves with love, or highlighting superstar local businesses who are making a positive impact on the world.

Zack Berman and Ryan Slater, The Juice Truck

The adventure travel buddies stumbled into the juice business in quite the unusual way. While trekking through Nepal, Berman and Slater happened upon a village that thrived off sea buckthorn berry juice. This inspired their joint idea of superfood juices, and they spent the rest of their trip collecting unique juice blends to bring home to Vancouver.

Their plan to open Canada’s first mobile juice business has been wildly successful. One need only ask the loyal customers what an impact the juices and smoothies have had on their health. Berman and Slater aim to “push the boundaries of what can be juiced or blended” to have a positive impact on the health of their community. Stress seems like an unavoidable peril of our modern lives. When we can’t make time for healthy meal prep, we can take comfort in the fact that all the nutrition we need is in a humble truck of juice.

Jim Vesal, Virtuous Pie

The founder of the legendary Chinatown hotspot, Virtuous Pie, had an unlikely entrance into the culinary world. Jim Vesal spent 6 years pursuing a law career before resolving that cooking was his greatest passion. Formerly the executive chef of Cocktails and Canapes, Vesal is now blazing his own path towards affordable, sustainable, ethical and delicious food.

Many guests are surprised to learn that the menu is entirely plant-based, but carnivore and vegan alike have difficulty tearing themselves away from the indulgently delicious pizzas and ice creams of Virtuous Pie. Vesal is dedicated to providing options that excite the least flexible of diners, while supporting local food ventures. Virtuous Pie features local craft beer and kombucha, and sources as many recipe components as possible from community partners. Any diner with a hardworking sweet tooth ought to try the cookie sandwich for dessert. The homemade chocolate chip cookies stuffed with a generous amount of the customer’s choice of ice cream flavour absolutely steal the show.

Karen McAthy, Blue Heron Creamery

Venture down the fork of Kingsway and Main on a Saturday afternoon, and you’re sure to spot the lineup of dedicated Blue Heron customers, patiently waiting for their weekly fix of artesanal plant-based cheese. Karen McAthy is a long-time vegan, and knew that it had to be possible to make better cheese alternatives than what was already on the market. She had worked as Graze Vegetarian’s executive chef for several years, and found herself wishing for tastier additions to vegan charcuterie or antipasti platters.

McAthy takes a leap ahead of the pack by mixing conventional dairy knowledge with responsible ingredient sourcing, along with professional expertise and plant-based values. She tested the fermentation and culturing process on her unique cheese blends that incorporate cashews, coconut milk, herbs and spices, and eventually ended up with several star recipes that are now more than capable of stealing the show at any charcuterie board.

Linda Antony, MeeT Restaurants

It’s the one restaurant that every vegetarian in Vancouver has been to. They’re running out of awards to win. The restaurant industry veterans’ project employs a humble strategy for dazzling results. Linda Antony is a French culinary school-trained chef, but her education was hardly employed in the development for MeeT’s menu. Rather, Antony credits 12 years of cooking for a vegan husband, Jason Antony (along with business partner Ibo Staiano the three founded the restaurant in 2014), as her inspiration.

Although everything on MeeT’s menu is plant-based, 70% of its guests are not. This is a bit of an anomaly in the world of vegetarian restaurants, but it’s a great sign for the future of the movement. MeeT caters to the indulgent, comfort-food driven, burger connoisseur in all of us. For the typical meat eater that sees vegetarian food as nothing more than wheatgrass shots and kale salads, plant-based spins on pub classics throw a wrench in the system. Sometimes it’s even difficult to distinguish plant from animal, as with MeeT’s introduction of the Beyond Burger. Rather than guilt people towards vegetarianism, the owners of the restaurant hope to tempt them into it, making healthy and compassionate food more accessible to everyone.

April 15, 2019

Vegetarianism challenges dietary norms; by leaving meat off your plate, you rebel against tradition, culture, and a lifetime of brainwashing. This adjustment proves that you are capable of evolving based on your values. That you can genuinely become a better person because of information that you’ve gleamed.

When you’re confident in your personal decisions and moral behaviours, there is no need to be discouraged by the problems you see around you. If you feel that climate change is a problem, you take action in your life. You can critically look at your habits that are toxic to the planet, and change them. This practice is incredibly empowering. There is no need to be complacent with that which troubles you.

These informed decisions to lower your carbon footprint; consciously reduce your waste, to treat animals with decency and compassion are all significant steps that make a difference. There’s an organic growth of one meaningful action facilitating the next. Maybe you start by cutting out red meat. Then you being to question where your food comes from. You realize how much trash you were mindlessly collecting on the curb, and you start composting and buying less products wrapped in plastic. You might install a solar panel, or switch out your soaps for biodegradable and river-friendly alternatives. Perhaps you start biking to work, realizing that commuting can be great exercise, not time washed down the drain. You can build a healthy physique while saving the emissions tied to car use. It’s all about reframing, changing your perspective. Once you are fully in charge of your own decisions, you become master of crafting your own experience. It is absolutely possible to reprogram the conditioning that held you back.

When you are awakened to the injustices of the world, there’s no reason to feel helpless. You hold the keys to impacting change for the better. Little decisions like exchanging beef for beans, or chicken for seitan have serious ripple effects. This phenomenon expands when we factor in social media. Influencers today capitalize on their audiences’ attention to promote a cause, service, or product. Influencers influence. We want to be like them, or have the life they have, because it seems so much more exciting and fulfilling than our own. When one person decides to stop eating meat, they inevitably make a difference. But when one influencer makes the same decision, and broadcasts to their followers why it is a liberating, helpful, beautiful choice, this decision has infinite potential. Rather than preaching to others why we’re living a great life, we can set the right example, for our planet, for our fellow humans, for the future.

A vegetarian diet is only the appetizer in the buffet of questioning societal norms. There is no inherent problem in tradition, but it takes a healthy dose of critical thinking to decipher true right and wrong, unencumbered by social programming. After upending something as fundamental as your diet, why does any other perceived boundary have to hold you back?

September 12, 2018

The Internet. our favourite way to waste time, the technology that brought you cat videos, instant global communication, and Craigslist. But can the Internet be credited with having sparked social revolutions? As we look at important socio-political movements throughout history (particularly since the Industrial Revolution which encouraged urban population growth, broad literacy, and technology-enabled communication), a crucial dimension to understanding the direction of revolution is investigating people’s behavior.

For the grand majority of our existence, humans have banded together in small groups, living and dying within a few miles of their birthplace. Never before the 20th century could the average individual travel around the world in a few hours. We have more disposable income, time, and information than ever before. Until a few decades ago, mass communication was done in churches or newspapers. From radio, to television and now the Internet, human communication has been constantly reinvented for an evolving audience, world affairs, and the cultural zeitgeist. Unlike its inanimate ancestors, the Internet has effectively transcended language barriers, shared information in every format, and completely transformed daily human life. With access to the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, every crisis a tweet away, we have no choice but to view things a little differently. Provided that we pay attention.

The idea that attention is currency is a relatively new one. In the past, entertainers or politicians may have counted on crowd presence to determine their popularity, but the absolute profusion of shareable media content in 2018 relies on restructured human priorities. Once our basic needs are met, and we are free in Western society to enjoy an unprecedented level of leisure time, with the perfect devices to drain this time, our attention pays. This transaction may not always be fiscal, but companies, celebrities, and causes are nevertheless profiting from it. Not to only be viewed pessimistically, attention as currency has also led to inspiring social movements. Things as simple as heartwarming videos of people with animals can bring millions of people together. Today, we have more access to inspiration than ever before. In 2018, a teenager can make a split decision about who she wants to be, research that path from her own bedroom, learn from those who have walked before her, and directly communicate with others who share her passions. This is instantaneous, and an oft-neglected benefit of the internet.

Ideas that were born in niche communities, typically offline, now have the rare opportunity to be shared with an online public audience, and can grow like never before. To see the beauty of this concept in real life, one can easily look to the success of crowdsharing platforms like Kickstarter, Airbnb, or even a radio wave monitoring software to scan for alien life. More than the technologies themselves, the vital social movements of the 2000s and 2010s are sustained and replicated through the Internet, social media in particular.

While veganism has its roots in historical, spiritual tradition, its rise to mainstream acknowledgment is incredibly recent. The same technology that allows fast food chains to tantalize us with unrealistically appetizing food commercials enables activists to film the interiors of slaughterhouses, spread video messages about the importance of compassion to animals, and share delicious plant-based recipe alternatives. In a world where everyone is seeking direction, these inspiring role models offer us a chance at redemption through compassionate living. The production quality of 2018 videos help us feel as if we are sharing their experiences – that this rosy life of aesthetic perfection is attainable for us too. While this may discourage some, it may also encourage us that the life we aspire to is only kept out of reach by our own limitations.

September 12, 2018

While the past few years have shown a remarkable uptick in plant-based living, this trend is sure to continue. Millennials and Generation Z are disproportionately choosing animal-free diets, a healthier path than their parents. As consumers, younger generations are typically more conscious consumers, with their personal health and that of the planet at the forefront of their minds when purchasing. The zeitgeist of the 2010s has recognized climate change as a devastating issue, helped along by the internet as a vital communication tool and media sharing platform. As more research links environmental concerns with human activities, particularly our over consumption of animal products, it becomes harder to ignore our responsibility as stewards of the planet. This recognition of the dangers of our consumption habits is not meant to stop society in its tracks, but to offer it an alternative path forward.

In the face of environmental disaster, businesses have a choice about whether they should sustain the same practices that have led humanity into this mess, or lead us on a better path into the future. Remarkable innovations by creative entrepreneurs and businesses have already endeavoured to compromise between profits and environmental stewardship. [Insert examples here of sustainable business solutions] This new practice of conscious capitalism may be a solution to our woes, but it has only scratched the surface of what humanity’s brightest minds could manifest. For decades, environmentalists and industry have been at odds with contradictory goals. If these two groups can combine their efforts, the potential could be overwhelming. Just as the animal agriculture industry is investing in plant-based foods, the energy industry could (and many do) redirect their strategy towards renewable sources like solar, wind, nuclear and hydroelectric power. Tyson, the frozen chicken manufacturing giant, has invested significant capital into Beyond Meat, the plant-based meat” startup that is shaking up the protein game. Even Bill Gates, who has personally invested in mock meat products (, believes that plant substitutes are the best option for the meat industry to be able to feed a greater population than animal agriculture can support.

These sustainable business practices are not limited to merely food products and renewable energy. In fact, all consumer facing industries are ripe for re-hauling in an ever-changing world. The fashion industry, the world’s second worst polluter (, is beginning to implement more sustainable business practices. H&M implemented a clothing recycling program in 2013 to redirect textile waste from landfills, and outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia repairs or recycles their old garments for customers to reuse through their “Common Threads” program. (H&M: or Patagonia: As approximately 13 million tonnes of clothing are thrown away in the United States alone, this consideration is sorely needed. Given that the fashion and textile industry accounts for a $2.6 trillion market share, companies that recognize the importance of environmental stewardship will likely be well rewarded with consumer attention.

Environmentalism does not have to be the enemy of capitalism. With more mindful practices, proactive investment in research and development, and meaningful engagement with ethical consumers, there is an unparalleled opportunity for innovation. As millennials enter the workforce and demand better business practices, companies must adapt to face new environmental and social dynamics. Businesses that want to take advantage of this shift should recognize the multitude of products that can be improved upon to heal our environment. Those most responsible for environmental destruction could be the very ones to save it. Fashion retailers could invest in sustainable fabric alternatives like flax, bamboo or hemp, take advantage of new technologies like 3D printing and AI, initiate clothing recycling programs to redirect used garments from landfills and be more mindful of their supply chains. These smart switches are not only necessary for the health of the planet, but will allow businesses to continue meeting their bottom line while serving enlightened consumer interests. After everything, sustainability and capitalism would be unlikely bedfellows.

September 12, 2018

Whether you’re planning for a vacation, moving, or simply to meet like-minded people from around the world, it is great to be aware of the vegetarian havens across the globe. In addition to the well-known cities like Los Angeles, Portland, or London, some places may surprise you for their delicious vegetarian food selection.

The most populous and innovative Israeli city, Tel-Aviv, is a surprising destination for vegetarians. Tel-Aviv’s international reputation has only recently been associated with veganism, thanks in large part to the controversial influence of Gary Yourofsky, a Jewish-American animal activist. Yourofsky’s viral videos that are as informative as they are heart-wrenching, have drawn parallels between the experience of Holocaust victims in concentration camps with animals in slaughterhouses. This analogy was especially potent for Israelis, and Yourofsky’s influence has been connected with almost a 10% uptake in veganism in Israel. Beyond staple Israeli foods like hummus, falafel, and tabouleh, vegetarian cuisine centres around fresh produce and bold, layered flavours of spice and herbs. Tel-Aviv alone is home to 400 vegan restaurants and kitchens that cater to and delight residents and tourists alike.

Berlin, historically best known for bratwurst, beer, and Cold War political tension, has now gained recognition as one of the most vegan friendly cities in the world. Home to ever-expanding supermarket chain Veganz and a plethora of vegetarian restaurants, shops, and events, plant-based travellers are sure to feel more than welcome in the German capital. Given the city’s renowned affordability, Berlin has attracted global immigration, and has the restaurant scene to show for it. In tandem with the rise of international cuisine is the increased popularity of the vegan lifestyle. Berlin is home to approximately 80,000 self-identifying vegans (not including additional vegetarians) who are keen to make the city as accommodating as possible of a cruelty-free way of life.

As more Western backpackers flock to Southeast Asia for coming-of-age expeditions and Instagram-worthy beach trips, tourist destinations are bending to meet the demand for plant foods. Vegetables, tropical fruit, and rice are already popular staples in Thai, Malay, Lao and Vietnamese cuisine, so the adjustments for vegetarian meals are not difficult. Additionally, this region is home to many followers of Buddhism, which in a strict adoption of its principle of ahimsa, precludes violence towards any life. As long as travellers take care to avoid fish sauce (often included inconspicuously with otherwise vegetarian dishes) and are considerate of local culinary traditions, they are sure to have a rewarding and delicious experience.

Beyond any cities or geographical areas highlighted for their extraordinary catering to vegetarian diets, it is possible to avoid animal products anywhere in the world with some careful planning and awareness. Local customs may be different than what travellers are accustomed to, so it is important to research, learn helpful phrases in the country’s language, or find similar-minded locals to avoid uncomfortable dining experiences and seamlessly enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

September 12, 2018

From hippies and hemp, to avocados and ashwagandha, Vancouver is the home to historic Rainbow Road and has been a longtime friend to vegetarians. The city hosts a modern reputation of yoga, hiking, and delectable healthy cuisine inspired by global culinary traditions, carrying its cosmopolitan green mindset into the 21st century. Although Vancouver was originally quite conservative with its pioneer population of loggers, industrialists, and fishermen, an influx of American draft dodgers and West coast ideology in the 1960s and 70s began to shift Vancouver’s values towards the liberal, green mindset that it is now renowned for.

A crucial aspect of this alternative lifestyle is to embrace more compassionate dietary options. Whether it be the collision of global cultures infusing the city with diverse dinner options, or an enhanced awareness triggered by our proximity to such beautiful natural wonders, Vancouver has come to be known as one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the world. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) named Vancouver the top city in Canada for vegetarians, and sixth globally. This reputation is supported by a multitude of comfort food, healthy, and indulgent staples served at local favourites such as the Naam, Heirloom, or Meet. The Naam was established on Rainbow Road (currently known as 4th Avenue), and became the epicentre of the hippie movement in Vancouver. It also served as a meeting place for those interested in Eastern philosophy and spirituality, ideologies that famously associate non-violence with abstinence from meat consumption. While the Naam may have opened in 1968, the real tide of vegetarian restaurants has swept over Vancouver in the 2000s and 10s, as popularity for the adoption of vegetarian or vegan diets has skyrocketed. Almost 40% of British Columbians under 35 now consider themselves meatless, so needless to say, there is an obvious demand for quality restaurants and services that avoid cruelty to animals.

Beyond food options, Vancouver is also home to a number of retailers and organizations that encourage community building and support animal activism. Shops such as Nice Shoes provide animal-free footwear and accessories, Willow’s Wax Bar offers vegan-friendly spa services, and charity organisations such as Earthsave and Sea Shepherd were established and maintain headquarters in Vancouver. There are many Meetup and Facebook events that cater to vegetarians, seeking to connect like-minded individuals who may otherwise feel isolated from the general community.

Given the burgeoning popularity of plant based lifestyles, made popular by celebrities like Ellen, Beyonce, Joaquin Phoenix, and Chris Hemsworth, it is likely that the movement may continue to grow over the next few years. Should the trend grow, Vancouver will be well-placed to cater to the plant curious and seasoned veggie veterans alike.