by Vesanto Melina
Some people from Winnipeg call our fair city “Vegcouver.” One good reason is that when we search the helpful, plant-based eating guide, www.happycow.net, for Vancouver BC, we find no less than 244 listings. These include vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants, as well as other food outlets. If we narrow our filter just to vegan restaurants, we still end up with 25 listings. A significant number of these have lineups every night of the week and they are opening second and third locations, suggesting that the demand for vegan food in Vancouver has not yet been met and is growing.
British Columbia appears to be leading a dietary revolution, particularly with those aged 35 and under, nearly 40 percent of whom say they follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, according to one national survey. When we look at all age groups, more than eight percent are vegetarian and almost half of these are vegan, in that they include no dairy, eggs or other animal products.
The transition toward a more plant-based diet is easiest with the support of others following the same diet. A great way to start building connections is to visit www.meetup.com Enter your city, then the word “vegetarian” or “vegan” or just “veg.” You will discover a variety of meetups, including veg dine-outs at vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants, potlucks and other events. Some groups are fairly exclusive, inviting vegetarians and vegans, while others welcome omnivores who just want to explore and are not yet certain where they will end up. Make sure to read each group’s “About” page.
It will be no surprise to Winnipeggers that the largest and most active veggie meetup group in Canada is Metro Vancouver’s Meatless Meetup, which features a remarkable diversity of events. In addition to regular restaurant gatherings, meetings include visits to local temples, nutrition tours, potlucks and film nights. Their approximately monthly “potluck-light” gathering at Vancouver Co-Housing (on East 33rd near Commercial) typically features a guest speaker or a film presentation and is a great way to mingle and make new friends.
On Saturday, May 26, the new film Unity will be shown. On Saturday, June 16, the evening will include a potluck dinner and a discussion among attendees of what led to their current dietary choices. As a bonus, each evening you are welcome to take a tour of the Vancouver Cohousing’s beautiful common facilities.
You will meet people who care about climate change and recycling, individuals who love animals and especially people who care about people. When I travel the world and connect with vegetarian groups from Reykjavik to Grananda and Kauai to Dresden, I discover a world that is far more positive than the perspective you might get by watching CNN. People who attend these events are inspired and know that through our life choices, we can make a difference.
With the support of resources like www.happycow.net and the veggie groups on www.meetup.com, there has never been a better time to explore a dietary change. The friends you may make along the way are simply a welcome side benefit!
Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver-based dietitian and the author of the award winning books, Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition, the Express Edition (with Brenda Davis) and Stargold the Food Fairy: The Plant-based Edition (with Claudia Lemay). firstname.lastname@example.org, nutrispeak.com, becomingvegan.ca