Why Community, Compassion, Plants?

For many of us, the road to veganism is a journey. We take different paths and progress at a pace that makes sense for us. We learn a lot along the way. It is an evolution. Some of us initiate the change for one particular reason, and later find ourselves connected to and motivated by a different reason. It is the nature of this peaceful, meaningful and empowering approach to living.  If you haven't noticed by now, our festival motto is community, compassion, plants. Though the plants connection might be obvious, we thought we'd share the important WHY behind our festival and motto...

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Animal rights

Since the use of animals is unnecessary for humans, people motivated by animal rights seek to avoid all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. They recognize the individual beings behind every animal slaughtered for human consumption.

An unbelievable 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide and 6 million animals are killed every hour. It has been extensively documented that factory farmed animals, who are sentient beings, commonly suffer based on the methods by which they are raised and slaughtered. 

There are animals who die as part of the animal industry and who will never be available for people to eat. The culling of male chicks as part of industrialized egg production industry is an example of animals who are dying needlessly. Millions of unwanted male chicks – the offspring of egg-laying hens – are discarded every year because they do not lay eggs and are thought to be too small to be raised profitably for meat. Since they have no economic use to the industry, the chicks are often culled without anesthesia by methods including maceration and suffocation.

At VegFest you'll be able to meet and connect with farm sanctuaries and animal rights organizations. You’ll see here that we have an outstanding line-up of animal rights speakers, plus an Animal Rights Activism Panel discussion.

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Better health

Half of all North Americans are dying due to cancer or cardiovascular disease.  You probably know someone who has suffered from these diseases. Their quality of life may be diminished, they may be living in fear, and are likely relying on multiple medications to get them through each day. Now imagine a world where the incidence of these two devastating diseases was significantly reduced. This is possible through eating a plant-based diet focussed on unprocessed food, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates here that a third of cancer deaths are preventable through five lifestyle choices, one of which is high fruit and vegetable intake.  WHO also indicates most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented if we address behavioural risk factors, including an unhealthy diet.  

And that is just the beginning.  Think type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and depression. There is a growing body of scientific evidence linking plant-based eating to the prevention, treatment and even reversal of these and many other common and disabling illnesses. WHO notes that a healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Interestingly, animal products are not included. The healthiest and longest-living populations in the world are plant-based. 

At VegFest you'll be able to sample and taste plant-powered cuisine and even listen to talks on various aspects of diet and health given by Dr. Linda Plowright, Robert Cheeke and Teresa Ford.  Check out the speakers schedule here.

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Concerns about the environment

You may have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause. Surprisingly, eating a more plant based diet is one of the most effective things we can do as individuals to positively impact the environment. Reasons are related to increased water use and greenhouse gas emissions with animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is tied to the destruction of the amazon. And land is used more efficiently when growing plant-based food compared to meat production. Links to the research and science behind this information is here.

We'd love to know, what's behind your WHY? What made you choose vegan?

Vegstock 2017: An Event to Remember

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What a perfect way to spend a beautiful summer day!  With over 500 joining in the fun, Vegstock was a resounding success...an awesome party with a purpose.  In case you hadn't heard, Vegstock was London's inaugural vegan 19+ food and drink event held August 26 at Life of Leisure Surf + Social Club.  Drinks and nosh were enjoyed among friends, with live bands lending to the truly positive vibe.  All net proceeds will support our growing and 100% volunteer driven festival, VegFest London, which is coming right up on November 11 at the Western Fair District.   

A big thanks to those of you who came to enjoy and support Vegstock and everything it represents.  It was fantastic to see all your smiling faces!  Check out more photos on the VegFest London FB page.

And many thanks also to our amazing vendors, who rose to the occasion and filled our bellies with all those infinitely tasty (and vegan!) food and alcohol treats.  Here's to you Sweet Teeth Vegan, London Brewing Co-Op, Globally Local, Henry of Pelham, Real Pops, Nickelbrook Brewing Co., Railway City Brewing Company, Creekside Wine. and Anderson Craft Ales.

And our special appreciation to vendors who were also event sponsors: The Boombox Bakeshop, Plant Matter Kitchen and Life of Leisure Surf + Social Club.  Last, but not least, we're grateful to The Kerouacs, Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies and Nate & Trish or Whatever for their musical talents, enjoyed by all.  

See you again soon at VegFest London!

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PLANT MATTER KITCHEN: CELEBRATING VEGANISM IN LONDON

Written by: Kre’Adiv House

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Not yet two years old, PLANT MATTER KITCHEN has already made an enormous IMPACT in the VEGAN MOVEMENT thanks in part to their ETHICS, their CULTURE, and their FOOD!

The first vegan eatery of its kind in Old South’s Wortley Village, Plant Matter Kitchen is committed to:

●        Supporting LOCAL

●        Practising ENVIRONMENTAL stewardship and sustainability

●        Advocating for SOCIAL JUSTICE movements

●        Serving ORGANIC food

●        Providing nourishing, PLANT-BASED fare

 Londoners, Canadian restaurateurs, and vegans around the world love Plant Matter Kitchen because they're GREEN, they're committed to COMMUNITY, they exercise COMPASSION, they serve undeniably DELICIOUS (and healthy!) food, they’re EXPANDING (yay!), and they’re a proud supporter of VEGFEST LONDON!

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NEXT LEVEL GREEN

Plant Matter Kitchen takes GREEN to the next level by serving vegan, organic food that’s free from GMOs and harmful, environmentally-destructive additives. The restaurant also:

●       Utilizes a reverse osmosis WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM

●       Is committed to COMPOSTING

●       Powers their facility with 100% GREEN ELECTRICITY from Bullfrog Power

●       Sells vegan-friendly TEES AND TANKS

For GLENN WHITEHEAD, co-founder of Plant Matter Kitchen and founder of soon-to-open Plant Matter Bistro (read more below), being AS GREEN AS POSSIBLE is an important part of operating a sound, ethical business:

“We really do believe at Plant Matter Kitchen that the energy that goes into the creation of the food is a critical part of the ingredients. So, when you’re using sustainable energy that’s less harmful, that’s committed to a greener world, I think that actually contributes to making food taste better,” says Glenn.

COMMUNITY & COMPASSION

Embedded in the corporate values of Plant Matter Kitchen—and soon Plant Matter Bistro—is GIVING BACK.

Each month, Plant Matter Kitchen hosts a DINNER FOR A CAUSE, which is a prix fixe charity dinner that raises funds and spreads awareness for important causes in conjunction with organizations including Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, The London Food Bank, CanFix, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Plant Matter Kitchen works with these organizations, along with a lineup of others, because they’re committed to:

 ●       Supporting the local LONDON COMMUNITY

●        Defending ANIMAL WELFARE

●        Demonstrating to the world that the movement toward veganism is about having COMPASSION, LOVE, and RESPECT for all sentient beings

 Plant Matter Kitchen also celebrates local VEGAN WARRIORS, who likewise support, defend, and demonstrate the tenants of veganism on a daily basis. Abby McCuaig, Debbie Somers, Samantha McPherson, Scott James, and Jason King all have unique stories and experiences that drove them toward veganism. UNITED, they’re making tremendous strides in the movement toward cruelty-free living, loving, and eating!

THE FOOD, THE FOOD—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!

Plant Matter Kitchen puts GOOD FOOD FIRST.

It’s that simple, and it means that the ingredients they use are:

●        From LOCAL FARMERS (not from cans, jars, or boxes)

●        Free from GMOs and added chemicals

●        Always SEASONAL

●        All LOCAL, All VEGAN, All ORGANIC

Plant Matter Kitchen’s Wortley Road location is open every day of the week to serve guests delicious food. You can also enjoy Plant Matter Kitchen's wide range of PLANT-BASED OFFERINGS from the comfort of your own home with JustEat.

Check out Plant Matter Kitchen’s Breakfast, Sunday Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, and Drink menus. Follow their Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up-to-date with daily lunch and dinner specials—and for photos of their mouthwatering, decadent weekend doughnuts!

WHAT SETS PLANT MATTER KITCHEN APART from every other restaurant in the city?

The fact that the restaurant’s PHILOSOPHICAL TENETS, which extend from their food, support an ETHICALLY ENGAGED and SOCIALLY AWARE community. And best of all—Plant Matter Kitchen serves these delicious meals in a community eatery that WELCOMES EVERYONE, vegans and non-vegans alike.

 Also some great news: a NEW MENU is being released in October!

And the most riveting news of all: they’re EXPANDING!

PHASE TWO: PLANT MATTER BISTRO

Get excited, London! To meet a growing need for vegan cuisine in the city, Plant Matter Kitchen will be expanding their operations to London’s downtown core with a second location focusing on fine dining: PLANT MATTER BISTRO!

Bringing you nourishing, quality, pure, vegan, all organic fare, Plant Matter Bistro’s menu options are healthy, wholesome, and global.  

When asked why it was important for him to expand his operations, Glenn responded: 

“The success we’ve seen in Wortley Village tells us that change is upon us; that Londoners are interested in plant-based eating, are committed to living a lifestyle that’s good for their health and the health of the environment, and want to get involved. Plant Matter Bistro is just that—a new operation that feeds our community nourishing food and spreads the philosophy that made Plant Matter Kitchen so popular.” 

Open for lunch and dinner, Plant Matter Bistro will offer dishes that are inspired by the kitchens of France, Italy, Korea, and Mexico. Providing GLOBAL FLAVOURS WITH A LOCAL CONSCIOUS, Plant Matter Bistro plans to serve up empanadas, pot-au-feu, burgers, ravioli, bibimbap, gnocchi, enchiladas, superfood salad, and so much more!

COMING FALL 2017 to 244 DUNDAS! Stay tuned for more to come from Plant Matter Bistro on Facebook and Instagram.

COMING FALL 2017 to 244 DUNDAS! Stay tuned for more to come from Plant Matter Bistro on Facebook and Instagram.

GETTING THE VEGFEST PARTY STARTED

Plant Matter Kitchen will be kicking off VEGFEST LONDON 2017 with a pre-festival dinner in their kitchen, just as they did in 2016 (check out the blog and video for a recap)! 

VEGFEST LONDON is an opportunity for Londoners, Ontarians, Canadians, and citizens of the world to celebrate the importance of: 

●        COMMUNITY

●        SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTALISM

●        EQUALITY for all living beings

●        The ADVANCEMENT OF HEALTH through a plant-based diet

●        LOCAL business and LOCAL love

●        DELICIOUS vegan food

Join Plant Matter Kitchen, the VEGFEST LONDON team, and our entire community in celebrating all things nourishing on Saturday, November 11 at the Western Fair District.

Make sure to stop by Plant Matter Kitchen’s booth to try some tasty treats, help support amazing causes, and chat about ALL THINGS VEGAN!

The Boombox Bakeshop is rising to the challenge

London's beloved The Boombox Bakeshop just expanded!  The vegan bakery and cafe recently moved to a bigger location to enable them to better meet the ever-increasing demands for their incredible cupcakes. (If you haven't experienced them yet, you really must).

Boombox hasn't moved far, though.  They're now at 520 Adelaide North (at Princess), merely one block north of their original location and immediately north of The Beer Store.  They remain on the east side of Adelaide.  You can't miss them thanks to their iconic pink signage.  There is now ample parking available, which is a bonus.  

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Bigger and better

Stepping inside, you'll find the new location big and beautiful, with natural light pouring in through the skylights.  It's a lovely spot to rest and relax while savouring a delicious cupcake with one of the many beverage options.  Boombox offers hot drinks like coffee, espressos, lattes, hot chocolate and tea along with an array of plant-based milks.  Recent lattes of the month have included s'mores and amaretto.  Cold drinks on the menu include the much-adored and locally made Booch Kombucha, as well as artisanal sodas by Boylan and Dry Soda.

The Boombox Bakeshop is the brain child of Alexandra Connon.  With a love for baking, passion for music, and support of family and friends The Boombox Bakeshop was born (throwback: read all about the inspiration behind the name and how Alex got started).  Alexandra says Boombox "had to move due to demand".  To her point, the Boombox team baked 7000 cupcakes for VegFest London 2016 and they sold out (take note and get to VegFest 2017 early so you don't miss out)!  In the new location, they are poised to dazzle taste buds even further and wider.   

Not just cupcakes

If you need even more reasons to visit Boombox, the team recently started offering a few new delectable classics for us to enjoy...butter tarts, macarons and Nanaimo bars, oh my!  And remember that Boombox makes custom cakes too (for every occasion, even made up ones because you just want to have your cake and eat it too). 

 

Connect with The Boombox Bakeshop

facebook.com/theboomboxbakeshop
Instagram - @theboomboxbakeshop
Twitter - @boomboxbakeshop
Website - boomboxbakeshop.com

 

VegFest London is grateful for The Boombox Bakeshop's support, being a vendor and proud sponsor of VegFest London for three years in a row now. This year The Boombox Bakeshop is the Entertainment Sponsor of Vegstock and Volunteer Sponsor for VegFest.  

We're looking forward to seeing you at these events and at The Boombox Bakeshop soon!

How to get even more plant powered!

Post written by:  Teresa Ford, VegFest London Committee Member

Why increase our fruit and vegetable intake?

Authors of an article published in the February 2017 edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology sought to establish the amounts and types of fruits and vegetables that are most strongly associated with a reduced risk of disease and death.  In this meta-analysis of 95 studies, reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality were observed up to an intake of 800 grams/day of fruit and vegetables combined, whereas for total cancer no further reductions in risk were observed above 600 grams/day.  Positive associations were observed between intake of apples/pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables/salads and cruciferous vegetables and cardiovascular disease and mortality, and between green-yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables and total cancer risk.  Examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower and kale. The authors concluded that an estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 grams/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal. 

Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Increasing our Fruit and Veggie Intake

So how do we get our daily fruit and veggie intake closer to that 600-800 gram range?  Or knock it out of the park?  Here are the approximate number of grams in a few items to give you an idea:
1 orange = 130           1 apple = 140
1 banana = 120          1 cup carrots = 130    
1 cup raw kale = 70    1 cup broccoli = 180

And...here are my top 10 tips for maximizing intake:

1.  Eat the ones you like - there are plenty to choose from

2.  Plan ahead so you'll always have your favourites on hand

3.  Include fresh, frozen and dried options for variety and versatility

4.  Prep fresh produce for the week ahead

5.  Find ways to maximize your enjoyment (e.g. hummus makes a great veggie dip)

6.  Have a daily smoothie (pineapple, banana and spinach with some water or non-dairy milk is delicious)

7.  Incorporate fruit into your breakfast routine

8.  Use veggies to supersize dishes like pasta, rice, wraps, burgers, salads and pizzas

9.  Find a veggie soup or stir fry recipe you love and include it in your weekly line-up (it's a great way to clean out the fridge)

10.  Incorporate produce into your baking (like zucchini bread and banana muffins)

Mexican Chopped Salad with Maple-Lime Dressing

Here's one easy and delicious way to load up on veggies!  And the black beans make it filling.  I've enjoyed it many times over for lunch and dinner.  I love the cilantro, but if you are not a fan, simply omit. 

Serves: 4 large salads

Ingredients for salad

  • 2-1/2 cups (or more) of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen when not in season)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

Ingredients for the maple-lime dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup oil (I prefer sunflower)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (you can substitute honey)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp chopped jalapeno pepper (seeded for less heat)

 

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients.  Pour dressing over mixture and toss again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Teresa Ford, B.Sc., VLCE is a London-based clinical researcher with a Nutritional Science degree.  She's a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator (Main Street Vegan Academy) who has been thriving on a vegan diet for over five years.  She's excited about launching her services related to plant-based eating in the fall.