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Vegans of Ottawa – Kate Fleming

Vegans of Ottawa – Kate Fleming
Photo courtesy of Katie Fleming

In this series, we chat with vegans from around the region to find out what it’s like to be plant-based in Ottawa, discovering tips and tricks for living a like a local - vegan style.

Kate Fleming has been a vegan for four years. Originally from London, ON, she moved to Ottawa 10 years ago to complete a degree in social work. She is now living in Centretown, her favourite neighborhood in the city. We sat down with her to talk about access to resources and support from the local community.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?

Kate Fleming: I went vegetarian when I was a teenager for ethical reasons. I saw my first factory-farm video and it was heartbreaking. Once you see those things, there is no going back. The more time went by, the more going vegan made sense. If you care about animals, the environment and your health, I truly believe it is the right thing to do. Compassion for others is very important to me.

Was it difficult for you to make the transition to veganism? Why or why not?

No, I was already vegetarian and I knew it was the right thing to do. There are so many resources online these days, making the transition has never been easier. There is a video on YouTube for literally every vegan question you might have. I did not know any vegans when I first made the change, so the vegan community on YouTube was such a valuable resource for me. Food technology has also come a long way recently, making lots of delicious vegan substitutes widely available. Literally anything can be made vegan.

What do you find to be the most challenging part about being a vegan?

Other people. I really wish the rest of the world was vegan too.

What is the greatest benefit that you have gained from being a vegan and why?

Knowing that I do my best through the choices I make each day not to contribute to animal suffering or environmental destruction. Veganism is not about being perfect, it’s about caring for all life and taking steps that align with your values. I got the word vegan tattooed on my arm to celebrate my second vegan anniversary.  I like that the world can see how much it means to me.

What are your favourite vegan spots/restaurants in Ottawa and why? What is your favourite thing on the menu?

There are so many awesome vegan / veg friendly places in Ottawa! I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite. I love Café My House for special occasions. La Belle Verte has the best cheese cake. The cauliflower wings at Pure Kitchen are amazing. The peanut noodle soup at Wei’s Noodle House is the best. Some of my other favourites are: Rawlicious, Perfection Satisfaction Promise, Moo Shu Ice Cream, Chickpeas, Little Jo Berry’s, Strawberry Blonde Bakery, The Green Door and Asian Stars.

Where do you get your groceries in Ottawa? What does your grocery list typically include?

I usually get my groceries at Independent or Loblaws in Centretown – their selection of vegan products is getting bigger and bigger each year. When I want to get specialty items I go to Whole Foods, Cedars & Co., Rainbow Foods and Kardish. They always have awesome vegan treats you can’t find anywhere else.

Do you find that there is an active vegan community in Ottawa? Why do you think that finding a community is so important?

Absolutely! I organize vegan meetup events that I have met so many great people through. There are lot of other awesome folks that put on vegan events like too. The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) is a great support to the community. We have a very active Facebook groups with over 3000 members. There are lots of us on Instagram – check out the #ottawavegan tag! There are many vegan businesses. Plus our yearly VegFest. I volunteered at the NCVA booth there last year and it was so much fun!

What advice would you give to people interested in or thinking about going vegan?

Having support from the vegan community is an amazing thing. Knowing that you are not alone and that other people share your values is so important. There are lots of vegans out there and the internet is a great way to find them. Whether it be through YouTube, Facebook groups, Instagram, meetups or other events, you will find your people. I have made so many friends this way. Pay no attention to the vegan police or internet trolls. We’re nice people who are happy to meet and interact with new vegans. Veggie friends are the best!

Do you have any other tips and tricks you would like to mention or anything else you would like to add?

Veganism is an amazing thing. Compassion truly can change the world. There are more vegans now than ever before!

Kate’s Vegan Essentials:

Snacks – Clif Bars will always be my number one.

Sources of Plant-based Protein – Veggies, soy, beans, grains, nuts etc.

Blogs and/or Social Media – The Vegan Zombie, Happy Herbivore, Happy Healthy Vegan, ReeRee Philips, Kat Von D, Morgan Joyce, Unnatural Vegan, Tami Torossian, Monami Frost, Cruelty Free QTs, Cheap Lazy Vegan, High Carb Hannah, The Viet Vegan, Hot for Food, Dr. Greger and Bite Size Vegan.

Cookbooks and/or Recipes – The Happy Herbivore, Oh She Glows, Thug Kitchen (the funniest cookbook ever!), Forks Over Knives and Minimalist Baker.