Veg Food Fest Toronto 2019

The largest Veg Food Fest in North America is celebrating its 35th birthday! Whether you’re veg or veg-curious, join over 40,000 visitors at Harbourfront for three days to taste the latest and greatest in veg cuisine.

Check out food and more from over 160 vendors.


You may have seen Sweets From the Earth’s sinfully delicious cakes, cookies and more around the city. These are some of the most decadent desserts you will find, vegan or not. At the Veg Food Fest, they have the usual favorites and usually have extras that you don’t usually see elsewhere. Not only are their desserts free from animal products, but their two production facilities allow them to cater to peanut and gluten-free patrons too! 🍪


For nearly two decades, Kings Cafe has been a staple in Kensington Market, with other locations popping up in London and across Alberta. If you haven’t had the chance to try Kings Cafe, Veg Food Fest has you covered! Kings will be sampling their delicious Chinese comfort food at Harbourfront Centre from Sept 6 – 8!



Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is one of the stars of the vegan world. She has been a long-time content creator with her podcasts and website and is the author of seven books. She has a new one out – The Joyful Vegan: How to Stay Vegan in a World That Wants You to Eat Meat, Dairy, and Eggs.

In her talk at the Veg Food Fest, Colleen will share her wisdom on how to overcome the social and cultural pressures that stop people from sustaining their vegan lifestyle.

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or veg-curious, this is not a talk you want to miss. Hear Colleen speak at Veg Food Fest in Studio Theatre on September 7th at 2:45pm!


Matan Volach entices us with a cooking demo to Satisfy That Sweet Tooth – Innovative and Easy Desserts They Don’t Want You to Know About! Cooking demos always include everyone getting to taste the results! Be there September 7, 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm.


Check out the full schedule of speakers here.

How to get there

Find Veg Food Fest at Harbourfront.

Friday, September 6th  4pm – 9pm
Saturday, September 7th  12pm – 9pm
Sunday, September 8th  12pm – 7pm

How to get there by TTC, walking, driving and GO train: You can also get there by bike, Harbourfront is right on the Martin Goodman Trail.

Veg Food Fest is hosted by the Toronto Vegetarian Association.


Yorkville has a new Kupfert & Kim

Lately, I was thrilled to discover that one of my favorite eateries has appeared facing the Village of Yorkville Park near my workplace.

This small chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants has been popping up around Toronto since 2013. Initially in the PATH catering to the Bay Street crowd, it now has seven outlets in Toronto and one in Montreal, with one more in each city on the way.


Abundant in fresh produce, and with almost everything prepared from scratch in-house, all meals are designed to provide a balance of protein, carbs and fat, and the full array of vitamins and minerals.

But this is no rabbit food – you don’t have this kind of growth without having some of the tastiest food around.

It has a variety of sweet and savory all-day breakfast offerings. Drop in at 8am for some going-to-work fuel.


Image: Renée Suen, Toronto Life

IMHO the smoothie bowls are the best in town and make a hearty and delicious breakfast or lunch.


Toasts are perfect for lunch and come piled with goodies.

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A variety of satisfying salads, soups, and various bowls are available. Cauliflower Tahini is my fave and one of their best sellers.

Image: Renée Suen, Toronto Life

Tip: bring your own container for a 35c discount.


Stop by for a coffee or smoothie. I’m not a hot drink fan myself, but their decadent hot cacao is something I have occasionally.

And don’t forget the yummy baked goods on offer.


If you fancy trying your hand at making some of their treats at home, here is a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jam Protein Balls.



Hope to see you there!



Do vegans want all livestock animals to go extinct?

A common argument against veganism is what would happen to all the animals if we stopped eating them and their products? Wouldn’t they all go extinct? Isn’t it awful for people who supposedly care about animals to want to wipe out entire species?

First of all, let’s take a look at all the wild animals and species we have already wiped out due to our obsession with keeping livestock.

Since the start of agriculture, humanity has destroyed 83% of wild mammals, 80% of marine animals, 50% of plants, and 15% of fish. (2017 study: The biomass distribution on Earth). The percentage of vertebrate land animals who are wild has gone from 99% 10,000 years ago to only 1% today. Now the biomass of vertebrate land animals is made up of 32% humans and 67% livestock.



We do this by outright killing wild animals who compete with livestock, such as grazing animals like elk and deer. Animals such as beavers and prairie dogs who change the landscape are also killed to preserve the homogenous landscape preferred by livestock managers. Predators like bears and wolves are exterminated when they resort to preying on livestock as their natural habitats are eliminated.


We drive wild species to extinction by climate change, for which animal agriculture is largely responsible. At least 14.5% of human-induced global greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture. Emissions come from animal digestion, transportation of livestock, and also the huge amount of land which is used for feed crops and grazing. Rising temperatures can alter or eliminate habitats, reduce food sources and cause droughts which all affect wild species. “Concentrated animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs create massive amounts of waste, which causes air and water pollution.

We take away the homes of wild animals, driving them to extinction by using up all the land to raise animals directly for human consumption or to raise crops to feed those animals. Livestock grazing destroys vegetation and damages wildlife habitats. Waterways are contaminated with fecal waste. Soil erosion is rampant.

The animals we know today as livestock are descended from free-living wild animals, some of whom are now extinct. The aurochs, ancestor of today’s cattle, was domesticated about 8,000 years ago, but some aurochs also remained in the wild until the end of the Middle Ages, when scientists believe they became extinct due to overhunting and loss of habitat.


Especially in the last 50 years, breeding has molded livestock animals into unnatural forms. These are animals who grow at an extremely fast rate so that their own skeleton struggles to support them. Some parts of their bodies are emphasized to grow exceptionally large, such as the breast of the chicken, or the udders on a cow. We have already driven some natural ancestors of livestock to extinction, like the aurochs. Others exist in the wild as natural animals but have the same issues as other wild animals because of livestock taking up so much room.

When we have changed an animal as much as this, for our benefit and to the detriment of the animal, have we not effectively eliminated the original natural animal?


Maybe we should just let what is left of their wild cousins exist in the wild?


So I think the questions we should be asking regarding extinctions, is why don’t we care about the rate of extinction that we are participating in by our animal-heavy diet, and why we are transforming livestock animals into unrecognizable mutants, who are unable to even survive to a reasonable age with help, never mind look after themselves in the wild.


Award-Winning Photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur

Today I’d like to tell you about Jo-Anne McArthur, a Toronto-based award-winning photojournalist who recently won the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice award.

Jo-Anne’s first photobook, We Animals is about animals in the human environment.

‘Drawn from thousands of photos taken over fifteen years, We Animals illustrates and investigates animals in the human environment: whether they’re being used for food, fashion and entertainment, or research, or are being rescued to spend their remaining years in sanctuaries.’

The cover shows Ron, a chimp who was used for extensive medical experimentation before ending up in a sanctuary. During his captivity, he was in a 5x5x7 foot cage, suspended above the ground. In the photo, he is at the sanctuary, where he usually chose to stay indoors although he had several acres of his own sanctuary space available. He would carefully arrange his blankets in a circle to form a nest.


Jo-Anne has also made thousands of photographs and videos of animals in human-dominated environments from the We Animals project available at

Her second photobook, Captive, is a book that challenges our preconceptions about zoos and aquaria.

The film The Ghosts In Our Machine was based on Jo-Anne’s work and follows her as she works on the We Animals project.


The Unbound Project is about women on the frontlines of animal advocacy. This is Jo-Anne’s photo of Erin Ireland of To Die For Fine Foods.


Jo-Anne’s photo of Pikin, a young gorilla, and Appolinaire Ndohoudou, her caretaker, won the People’s Choice in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and recently won the distinguished Alfred Fried Special Award of the Jury for the best single picture entry. It was selected from over 15,000 entries. The Fried Awards are specifically on the theme of peace in the world.  It was taken at Ape Action Africa, while a sedated Pikin was being moved from one sanctuary to another. It’s a lovely photo which shows the trust and affection between the gorilla and her caretaker.

Jo-Anne remembered: “I sat in the front passenger seat, excitedly taking photos of this incredibly unique situation, when to my horror, Pikin awoke from the sedation. I think it goes without saying that one should never get in a car with an alert gorilla.”


Check out Jo-Anne’s website at


North America’s Largest Veg Food Fest is on our Doorstep in Toronto

This weekend, Toronto’s Veg Food Fest is North America’s largest celebration of all things veg. With a beautiful lakefront location at Harbourfront Centre, free admission, 140 vendors, and 40 hours of free music and programming, there is something for everyone. Sweet tooth or health kick, you will find your fix.

Newbies to veg eating are particularly welcomed and catered for. You will find veg versions of your favourite foods, like cashew ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, artisanal vegan cheeses, pizza, sausages, samosas, salads, and smoothies. Many vendors offer free samples.


Some of the speakers and cooking demos are highlighted below. Find the full list at

Check out local star chef Doug McNish share his secrets on ‘Veganizing the Classics’ on Saturday at 12:00pm. All food demos are free and you get to eat what is prepared. Doug runs the popular Mythology Diner which turns classic diner dishes veg. He also has a vendor booth at the fair and makes one of my favourite dishes, Polenta Poutine with mushroom gravy and cashew cheese.


Sam Turnbull – Fuss-Free Vegan Cooking (Saturday 6pm). ‘Vegan food doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming, or expensive. Sam makes vegan cooking simple using easy to find ingredients to create drool-worthy recipes that will become your new go-to’s. Free food samples!’


John Lewis – Bad Ass Vegan (Saturday 6.30pm).  ‘John “Bad Ass Vegan” Lewis discusses his take on the vegan movement and why people should incorporate a plant based lifestyle for themselves and for the planet.’


Amy Symington – Transitioning to a healthful, balanced plant based diet (Saturday 8pm). ‘Join Chef Amy Symington, nutrition professor and research associate at George Brown College, as she discusses vegan nutrition and how to confidently and healthfully transition to a plant based diet. Samples from new and popular cookbooks will be demonstrated and sampled!’

Edible IQ – Chocolate Dreams (Sunday 6pm). ‘Discover the world of vegan chocolate desserts like never before. Learn how to temper chocolate, and experience chocolate desserts that will make you forget you’re not floating in a cloud with chocolate angels.’

Don’t forget the 140 vendors who will be there all weekend offering baked goods, ice cream, full meals, snacks, clothing, health products, representing non-profits and more.

I’ll be at the Mercy For Animals table on Sunday from 12:00pm to 3:00pm so come and say hi!

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Veg Food Fest is easily accessible by TTC, walking, cycling (it’s on the Martin Goodman trail), driving or GO train. See details here:

Attended by over 40,000 visitors each fall at Harbourfront Centre. The hours are as follows:

  • Friday, September 7th from 4-9pm
  • Saturday, September 8th from 12-9pm
  • Sunday, September 9th from 12-7pm

The Veg Food Fest is hosted by the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

Find more information here:



Fruits and Veggies You Can Use to Replace Meat

Smoky Carrot Dogs

See a carrot, taste a hot dog! Use soy sauce, liquid smoke, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and mustard in a marinade to get that hot dog flavour. Recipe here.

Eat a carrot dog out at Planta in Yorkville.



Bacon can be made at home from mushroom, eggplant or coconut.

Toss sliced shiitakes with olive oil and salt. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Crispy eggplant bacon recipe here.


Coconut bacon is the one you are most likely to see commercially.

There are many brands available to purchase ready made, such as Phoney Baloney’s or Blue Monkey. You can also find it at YamChops in Toronto.



Here’s a recipe to make it at home.


Carrot Lox

Peel off wide strips from carrots. Marinate in liquid smoke and soy sauce then bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with vegan cream cheese

Buy Carrot Lox ready made at YamChops.


Chickpea Tuna Salad

Mash chickpeas with vegan mayo, lemon juice and salt, and mix well.

Want to just open a can? Try Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Toona.



Cauliflower Steaks

This recipe combines cauliflower steaks with delicious mushroom gravy.



BBQ Jackfruit

Jackfruit has a meaty texture and absorbs any flavor. It’s often used in BBQ or pulled pork type dishes. Here’s a recipe for BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches.


Get your jackfruit fix ready made at Yam Chops with their Hickory BBQ Ribs and Hickory BBQ Pulled Pork.


Animal Place Names

How many animal place names can you come up with? Buffalo, NY is an obvious one. Canadian places named after animals include Big Beaver in Saskatchewan, Deer Lake in Newfoundland and Eagle River in Ontario. Kelowna means “grizzly bear,” Aklavik, “place of bear” and Tuktoyaktuk, “reindeer that looks like caribou.” Kicking Horse Pass in the Rockies was named for an 1858 incident when James Hector was kicked by one of his packhorses.

There are also many place names whose animal origins are hidden.

Capri is a beautiful island in Italy that the Romans called ‘goat island’. But it may have originally been named ‘boar island’ (kapros) by the Greeks.

Goats are also featured in the Aegean Sea and Aigina (from root aig for ‘goat’).


Uruguay – this South American country gets its name from the Uruguay River and the word comes from the local language meaning “bird-river” or “river of painted birds”.

Sierra Leone is a West African nation that literally means “lion mountains”.

Coney Island is a seaside resort in New York famous for its amusement park. The most popular theory on how the island got its name is that it comes from an old spelling of the Dutch word for rabbit, conyn, because there was a large population of wild rabbits there. So it was named “Rabbit Island”, which was later anglicized to “Coney Island”.


Alcatraz – the island in the San Francisco bay famous for its prison – means “pelican”.

Moving to the United Kingdom, York in old English was Eoforwic (eofor means ‘wild boar’ + wic ‘outlying settlement). So ‘wild boar town’. This was changed by Scandinavian settlers to Iorvik and eventually Iork by the 13th century. Here at home, Toronto was named York from 1793 to 1834 and the name lives on locally in various incarnations.


Oxford, the university town in southern England means “the ford where the oxen cross.”

The Canary Islands are obviously named after those little yellow birds, right? Actually no, the birds are named after the islands. The Latin term Insuala Canaria means “Island of the Dogs.” The dog remains on the Canary Islands flag and coat of arms.

Canary Islands Coat of Arms

Find out more about animal place names here:


Top 10 Vegan Ice Cream Shops – Toronto Area

As we continue with the hot summer weather, here are the 10 best places in the Toronto area to get your plant-based ice cream fix.


Kensington Market

Cosmic Treats 207 Augusta Avenue 647-352-2207

Go nuts with scrumptious cashew-based homemade ice creams and sundaes. Their Far From Pedestrian Sundae is a local favourite.



Bunner’s Bakeshop 244 Augusta Ave. 647-350 2975

As well as being a vegan and gluten-free bakery, they also do soft serve cones.


Hibiscus Cafe 238 Augusta Avenue 416-364-6183

“Experimental vegan ice cream flavours like sea buckthorn and strawberry basil from Hibiscus Cafe will have even the most die-hard dairy fanatic doing a double take (and a double scoop).”

Sweet Olenka’s 4 GTA locations :

  • 225 Augusta Ave 647-352-3444
  • 2790 Lakeshore Blvd. W 416-521-7444
  • 1056 Queen St W 647-350-7444
  • 23 Jutland Rd 416-201-9444

Sweet Olenka’s has delicious coconut-based vegan ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, and custom-made ice cream cakes.



North Toronto

Nanashake 4750 Yonge St. 416-226-6262

All the soft serve at this Yonge and Sheppard ice creamery is made in-house from fresh bananas. You’ll find rare flavours like Spiced Date and Rosey Pistachio as well as old favourites like Chocolate Delight and Strawberry Funshine.


Vegan Danish Bakery 7718 Yonge St, Thornhill, ON 905-882-1331

Their all-season sundaes are expanded in the summer to include ice cream cones and a Strawberry Shortcake Sundae.



Not Your Mother (NYM)

Not Your Mother Facebook Page 1346 Queen St W

Opening August 2, this is the newest ice cream hot spot.




Kelly’s Bake Shoppe 401 Brant Street Burlington

This award-winning bakery (also check out their Mile High Brownie) is also known for their ice cream.


Your Own Kitchen

Use your blender or food processor to turn frozen bananas into a delicious home-made ice cream. I had my doubts about this when I first heard about it, but it really does taste like ice cream and has become a dessert staple.

Check out 10 easy and delicious flavours you can make quickly in your own kitchen from Chocolate Covered Katie.


Volunteer Day at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary

Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary (HEEFS) is about an hour to an hour and a half drive from downtown Toronto. They hold regular tours and also volunteer work days. Book ahead, as they get filled up early.

Our volunteer day was super hot. Most of the animals were staying in the shade most of the time, but some were curious to see us up close!

Hank coming to say hello (photo by Megan Hashemi)

Our group of about 20 volunteers gathered at 10am and had our choice of three jobs. They asked for three volunteers to add a fresh coat of paint to the resident transport trailer, and the rest of us were split into two groups. One group was unloading a truckload of hay into the barn, and the other was decorating the side of the barn with 60 large and 3,000 small paper hearts, each containing a message.


Last year, the star resident of the sanctuary, Esther the Wonder Pig, became ill. When trying to diagnose her, it would have helped to have a Pegaso Scanner, but there was no such device in the whole of Canada to fit a large animal like a pig (or a horse, cow or large animal in a zoo). Esther would have had to go the USA to get her scan, which would have meant a lot of issues getting her through immigration, as well as having to travel when ill.

Esther recovered regardless, but this prompted her two Dads, Steve and Derek, to do a fundraiser to buy a large animal scanner for the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.


They blew past the goal of half a million USD needed to get the scanner, with the surplus of more than $70,000USD going to an Emergency Medical Fund for other sanctuaries and rescue organizations!


One of the perks offered to donors was to have a message of their choice written on a paper heart and attached to the barn for July 1st, Esther’s sixth birthday. They expected to get a few hundred messages. At first, they were writing them out by hand but were soon snowed under with thousands. Instead, they ended up printing out the 3,000 small hearts and handwriting only the 60 large ones. Our job on the workday was to pin each heart to netting strung up on the barn wall.


By 1pm, we broke for lunch, then had a tour around the sanctuary. Esther had been snoozing in her air-conditioned house all morning but did need to come out for a pee and a quick wallow in her pool, so we did get to see her.

Esther in her favorite pool with one of her Dads, Steve (photo by Megan Hashemi)

Alice, a gentle dog, was recently rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Alice greeting a volunteer

When I was last there three years ago, I saw April the pig with her young adolescent-aged piglets. Now they are all grown up! April and her son Tim watched us put up the hearts for a while.

Me with one of the pig babies in 2015.

As it was so hot, the sheep, goats, and pigs mostly stayed inside where they were more comfortable.

The cows were content to graze, but the horse and donkey were eager to come to say hello.

Escalade (horse) and BJ (donkey)

HEEFS makes a great day out whether you just want to have a tour and see the animals, or also include some volunteering.