Tag Archives | Georges Laraque

Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival Top 5!


Pic­tured above: Sport­ing the new Oy Vegan Tee at the Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Food Festival!

Arriv­ing at the Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Food Fes­ti­val thrown by the won­der­ful peo­ple at the Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Asso­ci­a­tion is always a treat. Row after row of booths sell­ing vegan prod­ucts, food, and rais­ing aware­ness about issues of ani­mal wel­fare adorn Toronto’s Har­bourfront. That famous Christ­mas carol comes to mind ‘It’s the most won­der­ful time of the year!’ and despite some rain on Sat­ur­day, Oy Vegan attended everyday.

There were many high­lights for us here at Oy Vegan and it was hard… but some­how we man­aged to nar­row it down to a top 5.

Here goes!

5The food from Karma ChaMEA­Leon Food truck. This vegan food truck came all the way from Hamil­ton for the fes­ti­val. Would LOVE for them to come to Toronto per­ma­nently!! Just sayin’


Pic­tured above: Jamaican Jerk Jack­fruit Tacos from Karma ChaMEALeon

4The panel of heroes that spoke about ani­mal activism and their fab­u­lous ani­mal sanc­tu­ar­ies in New York State. Check out Kathy Stevens’ Catskill Ani­mal Sanc­tu­ary, Jenny Brown’s Wood­stock Farm Ani­mal Sanc­tu­ary, and Gene Bauer’s Farm Sanc­tu­ary. I look for­ward to read­ing all of their books!!!


Pic­tured above from L to R: Kathy Stevens, Gene Bauer, Sonia Faruqi, Jenny Brown, and Sayara Thurston.

3. Meet­ing Chef Roberto Mar­tin. Known for being Ellen Degeneres’ chef, Roberto Mar­tin made a super tasty ceviche out of hearts of palm. A very cool down-to-earth guy I must say.


Pic­tured above: Roberto Mar­tin and I

2. I was also hon­oured to receive Chef Taymer Mason’s St. Maarten gift bag give­away fea­tur­ing a green sea­son­ing that she made in St. Maarten! She served up a super tasty lentil patty and an egg­plant and sea­weed accra that was mouthwatering.




Pic­tured above: Top– Taymer Mason and I, Bot­tom– Lentil Patty and Egg­plant and Sea­weed Accra

1. Strong­man Patrik Baboumian break­ing the Guin­ness World Record by lift­ing 1213 lbs (550 kilos)! This vegan hero was so pumped from his amaz­ing feat that he screamed vegan power with all his might after walk­ing over 10 metres with 1213 lbs on his back. An unbe­liev­able moment and an unbe­liev­able guy. The video I took is a lit­tle shakey but cap­tures his speech at the end which touched every­one in the crowd just as much as the actual feat of strength that he per­formed. An amaz­ing moment that will go down in food fest history!



Pic­tured above from L to R: vegan ath­lete panel fea­tur­ing Patrik Baboumian,

UFC fighter James Wilks, Iron­man ath­lete Roch Roll,  and for­mer Hockey player Georges Laraque. 

I would also like to send a spe­cial shout-out to Sweets from the Earth for their Cin­na­mon Babka. It was unbe­liev­ably tasty!!!

As well, we want to shout-out Green Zebra Kitchen for their de-constructed Tem­peh Rueben Bowl. Yum!


Pic­tured above: Green Zebra Kitchen’s de-constructed Tem­peh Rueben Bowl

I also want to com­mend the TVA for mak­ing this year’s event com­pletely vegan. It really made it acces­si­ble for every­one and I felt more com­fort­able and excited know­ing that I could eat any­thing I wanted! I hope this becomes the norm for the food fes­ti­val as it is a cel­e­bra­tion of a plant-based lifestyle after all!

Oy Vegan!

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10 Thousand Tastes 10 Billion Reasons

I had the plea­sure of attend­ing a totally vegan event a few week­ends ago. It was called 10,000 Tastes 10 Bil­lion Rea­sons and it took place in one of the busiest squares in down­town Toronto.

Scores of dif­fer­ent vegan food ven­dors lined Dun­das Square giv­ing away free sam­ples of their prod­ucts. Silk gave away choco­late almond milk, Daiya sam­pled their new cheese wedges, and local Toronto fire­fight­ers cooked up Gardein veg­gie burg­ers for throngs of Toron­to­ni­ans and tourists alike.

Rip Essel­styn and I

The fea­tured guest on the main stage was Rip Essel­styn, vegan celeb and son of Dr. Cald­well B. Essel­styn who con­ducted the ground­break­ing 20 year study that proves that a change in diet can cure heart dis­ease.  Rip spoke about his plant based nutri­tion pro­gram called “The Engine 2 Diet”. I  also found out from a lovely fire­fighter who was cook­ing up my veg­gie burger that Rip also spoke to the fire­fight­ers up at Downsview and suc­cess­fully got 75 of them to try a vegan diet.

Sadly, I arrived after Rip had fin­ished speak­ing but I did get to hear the vocal stylings of the tal­ented Jenn Grant as I filled my belly with vegan treats.

I espe­cially loved these signs that were fea­tured around the site!

We also bumped into a few veg­ans celebs along the way.

Us and Georges Laraque. 

This was an awe­some event for veg­ans, veg­e­tar­i­ans, and non-veggies alike. I love that it was in such a cen­tral loca­tion and that it got a great mes­sage out to all the inter­ested passersby.

Oy Vegan!

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The Protein Myth!

It’s funny, but every time I tell peo­ple that I’m vegan they almost always ask, “Where do you get your protein?!”

So, for all of you curi­ous peo­ple out there, here’s the answer!

First of all, there is a myth that we all need way more pro­tein than we actu­ally do! Below, I’m going to share some of an arti­cle that PCRM (Physi­cians Com­mit­tee for Respon­si­ble Med­i­cine) put together called The Pro­tein Myth:

Pro­tein Require­ments

With the tra­di­tional West­ern diet, the aver­age Amer­i­can con­sumes about dou­ble the pro­tein her or his body needs. Addi­tion­ally, the main sources of pro­tein con­sumed tend to be ani­mal prod­ucts, which are also high in fat and sat­u­rated fat. Most indi­vid­u­als are sur­prised to learn that pro­tein needs are actu­ally much less than what they have been con­sum­ing. The Rec­om­mended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for pro­tein for the aver­age, seden­tary adult is only 0.8 grams per kilo­gram of body weight. To find out your aver­age indi­vid­ual need, sim­ply per­form the fol­low­ing calculation:

Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = rec­om­mended pro­tein intake

How­ever, even this value has a large mar­gin of safety, and the body’s true need is even lower for most peo­ple. Pro­tein needs are increased for women who are preg­nant or breast­feed­ing. In addi­tion, needs are also higher for very active per­sons. As these groups require addi­tional calo­ries, increased pro­tein needs can eas­ily be met through larger intake of food con­sumed daily. Extra serv­ing of legumes, tofu, meat sub­sti­tutes, or other high pro­tein sources can help meet needs that go beyond the cur­rent RDA.

So, it turns out that pro­tein defi­ciency is not really an issue in North Amer­ica. Actu­ally, there are dan­gers asso­ci­ated with too much pro­tein intake.

The Prob­lems with High-Protein Diets

High-protein diets for weight loss, dis­ease pre­ven­tion, and enhanced ath­letic per­for­mance have been greatly pub­li­cized over recent years. How­ever, these diets are sup­ported by lit­tle sci­en­tific research. Stud­ies show that the health­i­est diet is one that is high in car­bo­hy­drate, low in fat, and mod­er­ate in pro­tein. Increased intake of whole grains, fruits, and veg­eta­bles is rec­om­mended for weight con­trol and pre­vent­ing dis­eases such as can­cer and heart dis­ease. High-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein diets are also rec­om­mended for opti­mal ath­letic per­for­mance. Con­trary to the infor­ma­tion on fad diets cur­rently pro­moted by some pop­u­lar books, a diet that is high in pro­tein can actu­ally con­tribute to dis­ease and other health problems.

  • Osteo­poro­sis. High pro­tein intake is known to encour­age uri­nary cal­cium losses and has been shown to increase risk of frac­ture in research stud­ies. Plant-based diets, which pro­vide ade­quate pro­tein, can help pro­tect against osteo­poro­sis. Calcium-rich plant foods include leafy green veg­eta­bles, beans, and some nuts and seeds, as well as for­ti­fied fruit juices, cere­als, and non-dairy milks.
  • Can­cer. Although fat is the dietary sub­stance most often sin­gled out for increas­ing one’s risk for can­cer, ani­mal pro­tein also plays a role. Specif­i­cally, cer­tain pro­teins present in meat, fish, and poul­try, cooked at high tem­per­a­tures, espe­cially grilling and fry­ing, have been found to pro­duce com­pounds called het­e­ro­cyclic amines. These sub­stances have been linked to var­i­ous can­cers includ­ing those of the colon and breast. Long-term high intake of meat, par­tic­u­larly red meat, is asso­ci­ated with sig­nif­i­cantly increased risk of col­orec­tal can­cer. The 1997 report of the World Can­cer Research Fund and Amer­i­can Insti­tute for Can­cer Research, Food, Nutri­tion, and the Pre­ven­tion of Can­cer reported that, based on avail­able evi­dence, diets high in red meat were con­sid­ered prob­a­ble con­trib­u­tors to col­orec­tal can­cer risk. In addi­tion, high-protein diets are typ­i­cally low in dietary fiber. Fiber appears to be pro­tec­tive against can­cer. A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veg­eta­bles is impor­tant in decreas­ing can­cer risk, not to men­tion adding more health­ful sources of pro­tein in the diet.
  • Impaired Kid­ney Func­tion. When peo­ple eat too much pro­tein, it releases nitro­gen into the blood or is digested and metab­o­lized. This places a strain on the kid­neys, which must expel the waste through the urine. High-protein diets are asso­ci­ated with reduced kid­ney func­tion. Over time, indi­vid­u­als who con­sume very large amounts of pro­tein, par­tic­u­larly ani­mal pro­tein, risk per­ma­nent loss of kid­ney func­tion. Har­vard researchers reported recently that high-protein diets were asso­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cant decline in kid­ney func­tion, based on obser­va­tions in 1,624 women par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Nurses’ Health Study. The good news is that the dam­age was found only in those who already had reduced kid­ney func­tion at the study’s out­set. The bad news is that as many as one in four adults in the United States may already have reduced kid­ney func­tion, sug­gest­ing that most peo­ple who have renal prob­lems are unaware of that fact and do not real­ize that high-protein diets may put them at risk for fur­ther dete­ri­o­ra­tion. The kidney-damaging effect was seen only with ani­mal pro­tein. Plant pro­tein had no harm­ful effect.

The Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Fam­ily Physi­cians notes that high ani­mal pro­tein intake is largely respon­si­ble for the high preva­lence of kid­ney stones in the United States and other devel­oped coun­tries and rec­om­mends pro­tein restric­tion for the pre­ven­tion of recur­rent kid­ney stones.

  • Heart Dis­ease. Typ­i­cal high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cho­les­terol and sat­u­rated fat. The effect of such diets on blood cho­les­terol lev­els is a mat­ter of ongo­ing research. How­ever, such diets pose addi­tional risks to the heart, includ­ing increased risk for heart prob­lems imme­di­ately fol­low­ing a meal. Evi­dence indi­cates that meals high in sat­u­rated fat adversely affect the com­pli­ance of arter­ies, increas­ing the risk of heart attacks. Ade­quate pro­tein can be con­sumed through a vari­ety of plant prod­ucts that are cholesterol-free and con­tain only small amounts of fat.
  • Weight Loss Sab­o­tage. Many indi­vid­u­als see almost imme­di­ate weight loss as a result of fol­low­ing a high-protein diet. In fact, the weight loss is not a result of con­sum­ing more pro­tein, but by sim­ply con­sum­ing fewer calo­ries. Over the long run, con­sump­tion of this type of diet is not prac­ti­cal as it can result in the afore­men­tioned health prob­lems. As with any tem­po­rary diet, weight gain is often seen when pre­vi­ous eat­ing habits are resumed. To achieve per­ma­nent weight loss while pro­mot­ing opti­mal health, the best strat­egy involves lifestyle changes includ­ing a low-fat diet of grains, legumes, fruits, and veg­eta­bles com­bined with reg­u­lar phys­i­cal activity.

So what are good vegan sources of protein?

Pro­tein Check­list

High-protein diets are unhealthy. How­ever, ade­quate but not excess amounts of pro­tein to main­tain body tis­sues, includ­ing mus­cle, are still impor­tant and can be eas­ily achieved on a veg­e­tar­ian diet. If you are uncer­tain about the ade­quacy of pro­tein in your diet, take inven­tory. Although all pro­tein needs are indi­vid­ual, the fol­low­ing guide­lines can help you to meet, but not exceed, your needs.

  • Aim for 5 or more serv­ings of grains each day. This may include 1⁄2 cup of  hot cereal, 1 oz. of dry cereal, or 1 slice of bread. Each serv­ing con­tains roughly 3 grams of protein.
  • Aim for 3 or more serv­ings of veg­eta­bles each day. This may include 1 cup of raw veg­eta­bles, 1⁄2 cup of cooked veg­eta­bles, or 1⁄2 cup of veg­etable juice. Each serv­ing con­tains about 2 grams of protein.
  • Aim for 2 to 3 serv­ings of legumes each day. This may include 1⁄2 cup of cooked beans, 4 oz. of tofu or tem­peh, 8 oz. of soymilk, and 1 oz. of nuts. Pro­tein con­tent can vary sig­nif­i­cantly, par­tic­u­larly with soy and rice milks, so be sure to check labels. Each serv­ing may con­tain about 4 grams to 10 grams of pro­tein. Meat ana­logues and sub­sti­tutes are also great sources of pro­tein that can be added to your daily diet.

    Healthy Pro­tein Sources(in grams)

    • Black beans, boiled (1 cup) 15.2
    • Broc­coli (1 cup) 4.6
    • Bul­gur, cooked (1 cup) 5.6
    • Chick­peas, boiled (1 cup) 14.5
    • Lentils, boiled (1 cup) 17.9
    • Peanut but­ter (2 tbsp) 8.0
    • Quinoa, cooked (1 cup) 11.0
    • Sei­tan* (4 oz) 24.0
    • Spinach, boiled (1 cup) 5.4
    • Tem­peh (1/2 cup) 15.7
    • Tofu, firm (1/2 cup) 19.9
    • Whole wheat bread (1 slice) 2.7

    *A veg­e­tar­ian prod­uct made from wheat gluten; pro­tein value from manufacturer’s informationSource: J.A.T. Pen­ning­ton, Bowes and Church’s Food Val­ues of Por­tions Com­monly Used, 17th ed. (Philadel­phia: J.B. Lip­pin­cott, 1998). (Source: PCRM’s The Pro­tein Myth)


    Believe it or not, there are are lots of ath­letes and even body builders who have gone vegan and feel it’s bet­ter for their sport and mus­cle gain. A lot of them claim to have increased energy as a result of adopt­ing a plant based diet.

    Pro­fes­sional body builder and proud vegan Robert Cheeke works out on mus­cle beach:

    You can check out more info on him and other vegan body­builders at veganbodybuilding.com.

    Triathelete Bren­dan Bra­zier and for­mer Hockey player Georges Laraque are two other great exam­ples of healthy and fit vegans!

    Above: Bren­dan Brazier

    Above: Georges Laraque

    The idea that veg­ans aren’t get­ting enough pro­tein is slightly ridicu­lous as pro­tein defi­ciency is a non-issue in North Amer­ica. Here at oy vegan we call BS on the meat and dairy indus­try for putting this bogus myth about pro­tein into our minds. A plant based diet can deliver not only an ade­quate amount of pro­tein for a well bal­anced diet but a bet­ter, health­ier source of pro­tein with­out all the crappy sat­u­rated fat and cho­les­terol that meat and dairy prod­ucts contain.

    So here’s to Tofu, beans, spinach, grains and nuts! Not only are they tasty, they’re also great nat­ural sources of pro­tein for one and all.

    Oy Vegan!

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