vegansaurus!

09/12/2013

Could this guy be the baddest-ass vegan of them all? His shirt makes a lesser claim (“I am a vegan badass”) that we can certainly all get behind just by looking at him. But I’d say moving 1,100 pounds by hanging them off your neck puts him squarely in the running for MOST badass. 
According to the Toronto Star, one Mr. Patrik Baboumian—a German, and a “strongman”, which is apparently a term of art and not just an obvious statement—performed this feat at Toronto’s veg fest. It might be a world record—in a category he just invented.
Anyway, put this in your brain-file of examples of vegans you can use to convince your Uncle Mort that we’re not all anemic wusses. Bonus entry: Vegan Serana Williams just won her 5th US Open last Sunday. Also badass.

Could this guy be the baddest-ass vegan of them all? His shirt makes a lesser claim (“I am a vegan badass”) that we can certainly all get behind just by looking at him. But I’d say moving 1,100 pounds by hanging them off your neck puts him squarely in the running for MOST badass. 

According to the Toronto Star, one Mr. Patrik Baboumian—a German, and a “strongman”, which is apparently a term of art and not just an obvious statement—performed this feat at Toronto’s veg fest. It might be a world record—in a category he just invented.

Anyway, put this in your brain-file of examples of vegans you can use to convince your Uncle Mort that we’re not all anemic wusses. Bonus entry: Vegan Serana Williams just won her 5th US Open last Sunday. Also badass.

01/24/2013

If you are in New York, you know it’s painfully cold. When it’s this cold, I just start to think about all the people without homes and how effing cold they must be. It’s terrible. What I forgot about was all the animals like these pigs being transported in these conditions. And this is in Toronto so I can’t even imagine how cold it is there. I could hardly stand walking to the corner store today and these pigs are just out there exposed in their bare skin for who knows how long. Awful. 

From Toronto Pig Save, check them out.

12/04/2012

Hey Toronto pals! Just look who is coming to your hood! The lovely Leanne and the Vaute Couture crew. You know I would follow Leanne anywhere but I think I have to work Friday. Why are they always making me work when I want to go to Canada?! Word is one raffle prize is a three night stay for up to four people at Farm Sanctuary in NY. UM, pick me please!
Get your tickets!

Hey Toronto pals! Just look who is coming to your hood! The lovely Leanne and the Vaute Couture crew. You know I would follow Leanne anywhere but I think I have to work Friday. Why are they always making me work when I want to go to Canada?! Word is one raffle prize is a three night stay for up to four people at Farm Sanctuary in NY. UM, pick me please!

Get your tickets!

11/08/2011

Same-sex penguin pair are targeted by heteronormative zoo  »


The Toronto Zoo is planning to separate same-sex penguin couple Pedro and Buddy in order to pair them with females for breeding. Needless to say, some people are not happy about this. As tipster Sarah L. said, “as if it doesn’t suck enough already to be imprisoned in a zoo.” Now they are forcing loving couples to separate. Eff that noise! Keep them together!

I had read previously that it’s not uncommon for male penguins to pair off. Animal Planet even states that “the Central Park zoo has turned out to be the Castro of the penguin world,” but I’m not sure if it’s just a zoo thing. According to Wikipedia, there was a similar situation in Germany where they separated three male-on-male penguin couples to try to get them to breed with females, and it just didn’t work. 

Sarah has actually taken measures to stop the forced separation and says we can help too:

African penguins are endangered because of commercial fisheries, oil spills, and humans eating their eggs, not because Pedro and Buddy are two males in love. I called the Toronto Zoo this morning at (416) 392.5929. The customer service rep didn’t seem to know anything about it, so I suspect no one else had called—but she seemed sympathetic, and I think if enough people call maybe they will keep Pedro and Buddy together rather than risk a PR scandal.

Let’s call today! Let love rule!

10/26/2011

Guest post: Good news from Canada: The Toronto Zoo’s elephants are headed to the PAWS sanctuary!  »


Today was an awfully good day for animals in Toronto. On top of the news of the city council vote to ban shark-fin products, councillors also voted to send the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants to the PAWS animal sanctuary in California next summer.

Back in May, I posted at Vegansaurus about the three elephants: Toka, Thika, and Iringa. The Toronto Zoo recommended that month that their elephant program be phased out and the elephants moved to a better location, in part because research has shown that elephants in smaller herds suffer ill effects.

Zoocheck Canada and animal activist/Vegansaurus favorite Bob Barker both recommended that the elephants be transferred to the Performing Animals Welfare Society sanctuary (the beneficiary of Saturday’s SF Vegan Bakesale!) in California, and that is where Toka, Thika, and Iringa will go in a few months.

I’m sure something will piss me off again pretty soon, but for now I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of politicians deciding to do the right thing.

[photo by jacob earl via Flickr]

Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban!  »

Want to know why that shark’s smiling?

In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!

The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.

For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.

It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.

"Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.

Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.

[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]

06/03/2011

Tomorrow: Toronto Veggie Pride Parade 2011!  »

Make way for the vegetable-loving Canucks, y’all!
Saturday, June 4 is Toronto’s second annual Veggie Pride Parade! Following in New York and Los Angeles' kale-fueled footsteps, this year's event promises to be a much bigger spectacle than 2010’s inaugural parade, featuring inspiring speakers and presentations, super-delicious vegan goodies, and a huge boogie-down dance party with booty-shaking animal mascots! With aspirations to become the world’s biggest and most diverse Veggie Pride Parade, organizers have extended their invitations to “veg-curious” guys and gals.

It’s sure to be an entertaining, eclectic crowd, including Capoeira players, roller derby chicks, veterinarians and vegan athletes. Canadian television personality Kimberly Carroll is serving as host and spokesperson for the big day. So if you’re visiting Toronto this weekend, or are lucky enough to live there full time, don’t miss out! Join the party at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, June 4. The crowd will gather at Asquith Avenue (Yonge & Bloor, next to the Toronto Reference Library) and end at the Eaton Centre, right in the heart of the city. Click here for more details and to check out last year’s event.

[parade image via Al x hybridus on Flickr]

05/17/2011

Toronto Zoo elephants are getting new digs thanks to Bob Barker!   »

I was pretty sad when Bob Barker retired from The Price is Right, but it’s hard to argue with how he’s spent his time since. He’s an impressive activist for animals [Ed.: Always spay and neuter your pets!], and now he gets some credit for another victory: the three elephants at the Toronto Zoo will soon be moving to a more pachyderm-appropriate location than, you know, Canada.

I love Toka, Thika and Iringa; that’s why I want to see them in a better home. Toronto’s not as cold as some people think—we do not live in igloos here—but it’s definitely a lot chillier than an elephant’s natural habitat. Their current facility at the Toronto Zoo just isn’t cutting it, and a new one would be prohibitively expensive. Also, the three ladies are no spring pachyderms anymore, and as they get older, January in Canada is only going to get rougher on them. Bob Barker agrees, so much so that he’s offered to foot the bill himself in order to get the three Toronto elephants somewhere more comfortable. He’s suggested sanctuaries in California and Tennessee.
That kind of move is closer than ever before now that the Toronto Zoo Board has agreed that the elephants should be moved to a new home, either a zoo or a sanctuary. The board decided last week that their 36-year elephant program should end, but they haven’t yet figured out where its three residents should go. They’ve opened it up to other interested zoos, and the Granby zoo in Quebec wants them. Their facility, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, certainly seems like a better fit than the Toronto Zoo’s outdated digs, but Quebec’s climate isn’t any better for elephants than Toronto’s, frankly.

Another option that’s being considered is a sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society, which is the option supported by Barker and the watchdog group Zoocheck Canada. The Toronto Zoo board worries that it’s not AZA-accredited like a zoo can be, but Barker and Zoocheck vouch for the sanctuary and point out that the California climate is certainly a better fit for an animal with a natural habitat in places like Africa and India.

It’s going to take a couple years for the process of finding a new home and moving the elephants to be complete, but the good news right now is that one way or another, Toka, Thinga and Iringa will end up somewhere more suitable for them. A lot of people in Toronto will probably be sad to see them go, but this is my suggestion: once the elephants have moved on, how about putting up a display honoring the elephants’ time in Toronto and explaining why they were moved and where they’ve gone? It’s a great way to teach kids that being a good steward of animals, not maintaining a tourist attraction at all costs, is what’s really important.

Terri lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. Photo from the National Post.

05/09/2011

DIY: a vegan food festival for your city, Veggielicious-style  »

The city of Toronto has a great food culture, with a summer full of delicious festivals and restaurants covering a world’s worth of food cultures. But the noshing scene in the city got a whole lot more awesome with the introduction of Veggielicious, billed as the largest festival of its kind in North America. The all-vegan festival ended on Apr. 24, but planning for Veggielicious 2012 is already underway. In the meantime, I got Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp of the Toronto Vegetarian Association to talk about how the festival sprouted, what the TVA learned and how other cities can do something like it (Do something like it, other cities! It was great).
Vegansaurus: What sparked the idea for Veggielicious?
Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp: Toronto has two annual restaurant events (Summerlicious and Winterlicious) which allow restaurant patrons to get good deals on prix fixe meals at restaurants for a two-week period. It generates a lot of excitement in the city, and I always feel a bit frustrated by it, as very few of the selections are vegetarian, let alone vegan, and as far as I know, no 100 percent vegetarian restaurant has ever even participated. I, like all of my vegan friends, LOVE food and am enthusiastic about going out and trying new restaurants and dishes, so it seemed only right that there should be an animal friendly restaurant festival.

How much time was there in between the decision to have the Veggielicious event and the event itself?
We started talking about putting on the event in Fall of last year, but because of other scheduled Toronto Vegetarian Association events and dismal winter weather, we decided to hold it in spring, coinciding with Earth Day.

Can you give me an overview of the work involved in putting together the Veggielicious event, from conception to execution?
Among the things we did to put on the event were:

  • Decided whether to invite only restaurants that serve 100 percent vegetarian food to participate or to open it up to all restaurants, as long as they know and respect what vegan means. We decided to include restaurants that also serve meat items because it opens up a lot of possibilities, makes the event less exclusive, encourages omnivores to venture into vegan territory when they might not otherwise have done so, and it shows “standard” restaurants that there’s a great demand for animal-free food.
  • Created a spreadsheet listing the restaurants we liked and hoped would participate in the event [and their contact information].
  • Contacted restaurants by phone, email, and hard copy letter to invite them to participate, and followed up many times when necessary.
  • Based on their feedback and the participation fees we asked each restaurant to contribute (all contributions went towards event publicity in the form of printed materials), received quotes from vendors for postcards, posters, and poster distribution.
  • Designed a poster and postcard for the event (I’m an illustrator, so the labor in this respect was mine and therefore free). Distributed the printed materials to all participating restaurants.
  • Set up a website listing the main event information, participating restaurants and specials, Google maps showing where the events would be held and what would be offered. We also included downloadable versions of the poster so that people could print out letter-sized versions and put them up to help advertise.
  • Asked for and received a prize package from Gardein, and set up a contest in which we encouraged people to tweet, blog, and post on Facebook about the event for a chance to win.
  • Sent out a press release about the Veggielicious and got it into local event listings, did TV and radio interviews about it when approached by local media (we were mentioned or interviewed on three different radio shows and two big local networks, CTV and Global).
  • Worked with volunteers in suburbs to coordinate restaurant participating and materials distribution outside of the city (this only happened shortly before the start of the event).

What kind of response did you get from restaurants when you approached them about Veggielicious?
Generally, people were enthusiastic about the event. Others were hesitant because this was the first year and they were understandably unsure about what the public response would be. Also, when we first approached restaurants we didn’t yet have the graphics designed or the website up, so the event seemed less concrete. Some restaurants expressed interest in participating next year if this first year went well.

Now that Veggielicious is complete, how do you think it went? Was the response what you expected, or larger/smaller?
I think it went well! There was a lot of enthusiasm about the event, and I hope that next year it will continue to grow. It’s hard to gauge how large it actually was, but I’m planning to email the participating restaurants this week to see how things went for them and [get their] feedback.

What surprised you most about the planning process for Veggielicious?
I guess just the amount of time it ended up taking. I think that the first year of any event is probably much more time-intensive than subsequent years, since you learn from experience and can work from past spreadsheets, notes, etc.

What are the plans for future Veggielicious events?
 We’re hoping to make it an annual event, probably held in spring.

Are there any plans in the works to share information from your experience with Veggielicious with other vegetarian- and vegan-focused groups?
I would really love to see events like this pop up all over the world! I think they would work well both in vegan-dense areas like Manhattan as well as smaller cities less known for their veg-friendliness, as long as restaurants are interested in getting creative. Within the next month, I’m planning to put together a guide sharing my experiences and planning documents to help others organize similar events. Having the support of the Toronto Vegetarian Association made organizing Veggielicious much easier than it would have been if I tried to do it all by myself, so I’d encourage people
to work with local veg organizations or to work in groups rather than go it alone, if possible.

If you could change one thing about Veggielicious, after completing your first edition of it, what would it be?
I’d encourage more of the restaurants to offer specials that aren’t normally on their menus, or to create some kind of prix fixe menu. We opened it up and asked restaurants to offer specials of their choosing, but the prix fixe and more unusual options seemed to generate more excitement among diners. Also, I’d love to branch out more into the suburbs and smaller surrounding cities. We did it a bit toward the end of the planning season, but it would have been great to start earlier.

Are there events similar to Veggielicious in your city? Are you now raring to get one going yourself? Watch out for more info from Lisa on how to plan one!

Terri lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.

04/08/2011

The Toronto Vegetarian Association is putting on this event called Veggielicious, and it’s an all-vegan restaurant event that runs from Apr. 9 through 24. Vegan and non-vegan restaurants around the Toronto area will offer special vegan combo meals or fixed-price specials. It’s the first year they’re holding the event, and they have about 20 restaurants lined up to participate. So two things:
1) If you’re in Toronto, you must so totally go, AND;2) Yo! We need a vegan restaurant week, like all over. Maybe some vegan blogs could get together and make this happen? We could start in bigger cities and then if that goes well, we could move to small ones, too? I don’t know. What say you, vegan bloggers of the world? Or just people of the world? Just imagine me as Janet Jackson in the "Rhythm Nation" video, rallying everyone to eat vegan food. I think that’s what the song is about anyway.
Anyway, if you’re interested, email me! Sing it, people!

The Toronto Vegetarian Association is putting on this event called Veggielicious, and it’s an all-vegan restaurant event that runs from Apr. 9 through 24. Vegan and non-vegan restaurants around the Toronto area will offer special vegan combo meals or fixed-price specials. It’s the first year they’re holding the event, and they have about 20 restaurants lined up to participate. So two things:

1) If you’re in Toronto, you must so totally go, AND;
2) Yo! We need a vegan restaurant week, like all over. Maybe some vegan blogs could get together and make this happen? We could start in bigger cities and then if that goes well, we could move to small ones, too? I don’t know. What say you, vegan bloggers of the world? Or just people of the world? Just imagine me as Janet Jackson in the "Rhythm Nation" video, rallying everyone to eat vegan food. I think that’s what the song is about anyway.

Anyway, if you’re interested, email me! Sing it, people!

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