Thursday, February 8, 2018

Update on Petition Calling on Canadian Government to Provide A Vegan Option at Public Canteens

Recently I received an e-mail from the House of Commons Electronic Petitions website notifying me that on February 7th, 2018, petition e-1205 was presented in the House of Commons. The e-mail goes on to say, “You will be notified once a government response has been tabled.”

This is a petition that I mentioned on my blog previously—it was calling on the federal government “to require public canteens under federal jurisdiction to provide a vegan option, and to raise this issue and work with provincial and territorial counterparts to require the same at all levels of government.” You can see the full text of the petition here, although it is no longer open to signatures.

On the House of Commons website, it is mentioned that this topic was brought up as well, but it doesn't say if or how anyone responded to it. You can see what I am talking about here.

I am looking forward to seeing how the government responds. I will post on this blog again to let you know how they responded once I receive further information on the subject!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Next Steps for the Revision of Canada's Food Guide

Happy New Year, everyone!

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while probably have heard that Health Canada is currently in the process of revising Canada’s Food Guide, the government-created resource that provides dietary recommendations to Canadians.

Now that it’s 2018, I thought I would give a re-cap of what has happened so far in that process and let you know what Health Canada is planning for the process in the coming couple of years or so.
From October 24, 2016 to December 8, 2016, Health Canada held Phase 1 of the online public consultation in which Canadians could share their views and experiences about Canada’s Food Guide. During that time period, I wrote a blog post entitled “Fixing the Problems on Canada’s Food Guide”, in which I discussed why and how Canada’s Food Guide needs to change. I also included my response to a question on the survey that I completed for the first stage of the online consultation. Additionally, I had an Op-Ed published on the Epoch Times website called “Health Canada Should Recommend a Vegan Diet”.

From June 10, 2017 until July 25, 2017, the second phase of the online public consultation was held, in which Canadians could comment on some of the proposed dietary recommendations for the new Canada’s Food Guide. The proposed new Guiding Principles showed that Health Canada is planning on recommending that Canadians shift towards eating more plant-based foods. I wrote an in-depth blog post on the subject here.
The Government of Canada has also held some focus groups amongst Canadians to learn more about how they use the dietary recommendations. In one series of focus groups, participants were presented with a series of proposed “foundational statements” that may be used in Health Canada's dietary recommendations and were asked to give their feedback. The statements were as follows:

“Make it a habit to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods and beverages each day. Many foods fit healthy eating, choose those that you enjoy and that reflect your culture and traditions.
§ Choose mostly plant-based foods.
§ Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and some protein foods, especially those foods that come from plants.
§ Include foods that have healthy fats.
§ Limit processed and prepared foods high in sodium, sugars, or saturated fat. If you choose these foods, eat them less often and in small amounts.

§ Cook with foods that are lower in sodium, sugars and saturated fats.

§ Make water your drink of choice.
– Replace sugary drinks with water. (Option 1)

– Choose water instead of sugary drinks. (Option 2)
– Avoid sugary drinks. (Option 3)
§ Plain milk, unsweetened fortified plant-based or soy beverages can also be healthy beverage choices.

Healthy eating is more than the foods you eat. It is also about how, where, when and why you eat.

§ Be mindful of your eating habits

– Enjoy your food.

– Take time to eat.

– Notice when you are hungry and when you are full.

§ Plan. Cook. Eat together.

– Plan what you eat.

– Cook more often.

– Eat with family and friends often.

– Share your foods skills, food traditions and culture.”

It is encouraging to see that “plant-based foods” are mentioned in the first statement on this list, as well as “foods that come from plants” making an appearance in the second statement! Also notable is the de-emphasis of milk (as compared to previous Canada’s Food Guides) and the inclusion of dairy-free beverages. However, these things are not particularly surprising, as the previously-released proposed Guiding Principles already showed us that Health Canada is most likely going to recommend a shift towards more plant-based eating, anyway. Of course, I would like them to recommend that Canadians eat a purely plant-based, whole-foods vegan diet. That being said, these statements show a clear improvement over Canada's previous dietary recommendations, and that is definitely something to be happy about. This whole process is very exciting! There is still definite room for improvement, however.

According to the Government of Canada’s website, in 2018, they will release “Part 1 of the new dietary guidance policy report for health professionals and policy makers, which will consist of general healthy eating recommendations”, and “supporting key messages and resources for Canadians”. In 2019, they will release “Part 2 of the new dietary guidance policy report, which will consist of healthy eating patterns (recommended amounts and types of foods)”, and “additional resources for Canadians”. It remains to be seen what exactly these resources will be like, but I’ll be sure to report on them for this blog once they come out!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Petition to the Government of Canada Regarding Food Policy

Recently I found out about a new petition that was posted on the Parliament of Canada’s E-petitions website. The petition, which is being sponsored by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, is calling for all public canteens under federal jurisdiction to serve a vegan option (and for the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to implement this law at their levels, as well).

The main part of the petition reads, “We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to require public canteens under federal jurisdiction to provide a vegan option, and to raise this issue and work with provincial and territorial counterparts to require the same at all levels of government.”

Judging by the way that the petition is worded, it sounds like, if the petition becomes law, this could lead to hospitals, schools, universities, colleges, prisons, and other public institutions to be required to serve a vegan option. This would be a win for people who live a vegan lifestyle, for, as a matter of human rights, it is essential that vegans have access to vegan food.

Furthermore, this would help encourage more people to eat a vegan diet, and it could help to indirectly raise awareness about veganism and to help people realize what vegan food actually is.
In March 2017, Portugal passed a law requiring all public canteens (at hospitals, schools, prisons, etc.) to serve a vegan option. Canada needs a law like this, too!

Canadian citizens are able to sign the petition and read more about it here. The petition is open until November 29, 2017, at 2:32 p.m. EDT.
Photo copyright Carolyn H. 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

World Vegan Day is November 1st!

World Vegan Day takes place every year on November 1st, and the entire month of November is World Vegan Month.

The annual celebration started in 1994 on the 50-year anniversary of the first meeting of the Vegan Society in the UK, which took place some time in early November 1944.

According to the Vegan Society’s website, “In a natural progression, World Vegan Day evolved into World Vegan Week and now, what we celebrate as World Vegan Month, where vegans and veganism is celebrated in workplaces, shops, restaurants and in homes all over the world.”

In November 2017, to commemorate World Vegan Month, the Vegan Society will be releasing a new app called VNutrition, which helps people achieve their nutrition goals on a vegan diet. They also will be launching a new campaign called “Vegans on the Go”, which will aim to get more retailers to serve on-to-go vegan lunches. You can check out the World Vegan Month webpage here; here is their Facebook Page.
Of course, every day is a good day to advocate for a vegan lifestyle, but this special day is an especially useful opportunity to raise awareness about the “why’s” and “how’s” of going vegan, as well as to celebrate the lifestyle and those who follow it!

Here are some ideas of ways we can make a difference on World Vegan Day and throughout the month of November:

1) Obviously, if you aren’t already vegan, please go vegan. You can take The Vegan Society’s 30-day Vegan Pledge to help you go vegan as quickly as possible!

2) Share the Vegan Pledge with your friends and family, on your blog, and/or on social media.

3) On November 1st, why not wish the people in your life a happy World Vegan Day? It may help spark conversations that could lead them to consider going vegan.

4) On social media and/or your blog, share something related to veganism and/or World Vegan Day. For example, you could share your own story of why you went vegan; a picture of a vegan meal you made; a link to the Vegan Society’s website; a vegan recipe; or even just a quick post saying “Happy World Vegan Day!”

5) Host a vegan meal or potluck for family, friends, and/or your local community. If it’s a potluck and not everyone attending is already vegan, make sure that everyone knows to avoid using any animal-derived ingredients in the food they bring; it can be helpful to ask people to bring an ingredients list.

6) Perhaps you could go leafleting, and wish passersby a happy World Vegan Day!

7) With your local vegan or vegetarian association, you could even help organize a talk from a vegan speaker or a vegan-related movie screening.

8) Bring vegan food to work or school, and share it with your peers. J You could just casually share it with them, or you could set up a table in a busy place where people can take the free vegan food and literature on veganism.

9) Try to get World Vegan Day or World Vegan Month recognized by your school or workplace. They could introduce a vegan menu in the cafeteria starting in November, for example (if there isn’t enough time for them to plan out a complete vegan menu in time for World Vegan Day, they can still start working on it by November).

10) If you’re a writer, write a letter to the editor, Op-Ed, or vegan recipe and submit it to a newspaper or magazine.
Have a great World Vegan Day and Month!

Published on Elephant Journal website: "Healthy Vegan Breakfast Ideas to Start the Day off Right"

I recently wrote an article that has been published on the Elephant Journal website. The article is titled "Healthy Vegan Breakfast Ideas to Start the Day off Right"; I hope it helps encourage people to go vegan!

Friday, September 29, 2017

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day!

If you truly care about animals, then you already believe in the principles of vegetarianism/veganism. It's as simple as that!

With that in mind, let me introduce you all to World Vegetarian Day, which is on October 1st. Actually, the entire month of October is World Vegetarian Month, so if you're reading this a little later than October 1st, there's still time to mark the occasion (and if you're reading this after October has already passed, mark your calendar for next October)!

World Vegetarian Day takes place annually. It was created by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) in 1977, and in 1978, the day was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union (IVU).

Image from

Here are some things that you can do to make a difference for World Vegetarian Day and Month:

1) If you haven't gone vegetarian yet, please do so now! You can take the Veg Pledge on the North American Vegetarian Society's website.

2) Spread the word about World Vegetarian Day and World Vegetarian Month on your social media accounts with friends and family. You could post a link to the Veg Pledge, as well as vegan recipes, pictures of vegan food, and your personal story of going vegetarian/vegan.

3) Wish people in your life a Happy World Vegetarian Day and World Vegetarian Month! Whether you're at work, at school, or somewhere else, it can be a good conversation starter.

4) Try leafleting, blogging, protesting, or another activity to promote veganism.

5) Host a World Vegetarian Day meal for family and friends (or co-workers, or classmates), or hold a potluck! (Just make sure everyone knows that the food that they bring has to be free from animal products.)

We can all make a difference to create a better world for animals. I hope you find these ideas useful!

World Vegan Day is going to take place in November, so that's another month to get particularly excited about! In upcoming posts, I will be writing about World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month.

Have a nice day!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Guardian's Editorial About Veganism

Recently an editorial entitled “The Guardian view on veganism: high in moral fibre” was published on The Guardian’s website. The editorial piece pointed out that vegans often are unfairly mocked by meat-eaters, and it said that “the diet does do the world good and if vegans provoke their friends into going vegan too, so much the better.” The writer began the piece by commenting on the recent statements of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (who is already a vegetarian) about how he is shifting towards eating more vegan food (although it is unclear whether or not he is actually going to go vegan).

Some environmental and health benefits of veganism were mentioned in the editorial, but animal ethics were not. Although it would have been nice to hear more about the animal-ethics reasons to go vegan, it was overall very encouraging to see the editor of a major news outlet writing in defense of veganism. Our movement is clearly doing something right!