Vegans of Ottawa – Jacqueline Bogart
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.
Jacqueline Bogart just celebrated her one-year vegan anniversary in early February. Born and raised in Ottawa, she now lives in the vibrant Wellington West area, a hot spot for Ottawa vegan establishments. We chatted with the writer behind the blog “Jackie Cooks” (jackiecooksblog.wordpress.com) about how current events affect veganism and not letting the haters get you down.
Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?
Jacqueline Bogart: I’ve loved animals my entire life. Before I was vegan, I ate a vegetarian diet for 8 years. Even though I watched all the documentaries and did all the research about how horrid animal agriculture is, it wasn’t until a conversation with my boyfriend that it hit me: “I’m not doing my part to help animals until I go vegan”. I haven’t looked back since.
Was it difficult for you to make the transition to veganism? Why or why not?
As is common with “new vegans”, giving up cheese and dining out were the hardest factors in my new transition. My friends and family were used to me flip flopping with my diet, so this was no shock to them, however building the gusto to confidently eat out at non-vegan restaurants was a big challenge that took time.
What do you find to be the most challenging part about being a vegan? How do you try to overcome that challenge?
There are many challenges when it comes to living a vegan lifestyle, whether it’s being judged by those close to you, still seeing animal agriculture flourish in the world, or seeing the uprising of anti-science/anti-climate change politicians voted in to the administration. All these challenges can be overcome by simply not letting every issue get you down, and continuing to live your best life. Your plant based diet will help hundreds of animals and people every year, and that is something to help keep your chin up.
What is the greatest benefit that you have gained from being a vegan and why?
Overall, being vegan just makes me feel good. Not only does my diet make me feel energetic and healthy, but I have peace of mind knowing that I don’t contribute to the suffering of millions of animals. It also feeds my new love of cooking (no pun intended) and experimenting in the kitchen!
What are your favourite vegan spots/restaurants in Ottawa and why? What is your favourite thing on the menu?
Living in the Wellington West area, I’m spoiled with the many vegan options within walking distance to my home. My favourite spot, Little Jo Berry’s, is only a couple blocks away and is perfect for when I need my caffeine or sugar fix (plus vegan pizza on Fridays!). And I can’t not mention Pure Kitchen. Several of my co-workers and friends are hooked because of my insistence they try it!
Where do you get your groceries in Ottawa? What does your grocery list typically include?
Loblaws is my go-to grocery store because I can get everything I need for decent prices, and regular Bulk Barn trips are mandatory to keep my kitchen stocked with nuts, seeds, spices, and nutritional yeast. For the good produce or specialty items, I’ll wander over to Herb and Spice on Wellington, or Farm Boy.
Do you find that there is an active vegan community in Ottawa?
Our community is strong and constantly growing. Its growth is truly evident when I am regularly noticing a priority placed on ‘omnivore’ restaurants offering new vegan options, and the opening of new vegan restaurants all around the city.
What advice would you give to people interested in or thinking about going vegan?
The worries I hear the most from people who are interested in a plant based diet but can’t quite make the leap is not getting enough nutrients, negatively impacting a routine, and the dreaded cravings. My advice is to do your research, watch documentaries, and try not to care what people think. Most importantly, remember that this is a wonderful choice to make that is not only good for your health, but helping the environment. PS: The cravings go away! Promise!
Do you have any other tips and tricks you would like to mention or anything else you would like to add?
Join the ‘Ottawa Vegans and Vegetarians’ group on Facebook! We are a group of helpful, open individuals who always look forward to welcoming new members to our community.
Jacqueline’s Vegan Essentials:
Snacks – My favourite snacks to eat at work are chopped veggies with hummus, and Lara Bar chocolate macaroon bites. When I’m at home, the chip bags come out; Ruffles All-Dressed are my kryptonite. Que Pasa recently released nacho chips that almost taste like Doritos!
Sources of Plant-based Protein – My favourite way to eat a salad is to layer it with protein, such as quinoa, chickpeas, baked tofu, or beans. Sprinkling hemp hearts (10g of protein per tbsp.!) on avocado toast, salads, in smoothies, pasta, and everything else is one of the many ways of getting all the protein I need.
Blogs – Hot for Food and Lauren Toyota were my saving graces when I first went vegan. Their recipes and her ‘What I Ate In A Day’ vlogs on YouTube showed me that living everyday as vegan was completely doable and a creative way to live.
Cookbooks and/or Recipes – I’m not a big cookbook person, but Oh She Glows Everyday has earned a permanent spot on my coffee table for when I need inspiration.
Social Media – Hot for Food and Minimalist Baker all the way. I may or may not stalk Little Jo Berry’s Instagram from time to time.