Vegans of Ottawa – Justin Seguin

Photo credit:  Justin Seguin

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.

Originally from Ottawa and currently situated in Kanata, Justin Seguin didn’t always live such a healthy lifestyle. About 5 years ago, he decided it was time for a change and overhauled his diet by going vegan. We chatted with him about veganism’s role in a heathier lifestyle, bringing your food back to basics and how it can be easy being vegan.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?

Justin Seguin:  I was originally inspired to go vegan because I was overweight and unhealthy; I wasn’t happy with my life at the time and I was searching for non-clinical ways of feeling better. That’s when I stumbled on FullyRawKristina’s YouTube channel and it changed my life.

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

It was a little challenging transitioning at first because I was so used to junk food and garbage being put in my body. However, once I started feeling better and losing weight, it was enough motivation for me to continue.

What do you find to be the most challenging part about being a vegan? How do you try to overcome that challenge?

The most challenging part about being vegan at first was finding new ways of making foods I loved before. But the more I looked into recipes and vegan cooking videos online, it got much easier. I have a very supportive family, so I never had any challenges with them embracing my new lifestyle.

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

The greatest benefit I received from going vegan was the change in my health and attitude. Not only did my energy and sense of well-being spike, it also gave me a huge love for all animals and life. Health was the driver that turned me to veganism and the animals are the reason I’m sticking to it.

What are your favourite vegan spots in Ottawa and why? What are your favourite things on the menu?

My go to vegan places in Ottawa are Pure Kitchen and Grow your Roots. It’s wonderful that these places are packed every time I go. It really shows the grow in demand for vegan food and how far veganism has spread. My favourite thing on the menu at Pure Kitchen is the Liberty wrap and my favourite meal at Grow Your Roots is the TLT sandwich. I can’t get enough!

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

I really like to make grocery shopping as simple as possible, so I usually just shop at Superstore. I think it’s important to make eating vegan as simple as possible. There is no need to spend $200 at a specialty store when I can get everything I need at a normal grocery store. My shopping list consists of fruits, veggies, pasta, beans, rice, kombucha, oats, and peanut butter. I tend to eat whole foods plant based as much as possible. But who doesn’t like mock “meats” every once and a while!

Do you find that there is an active vegan community in Ottawa?

I’d like to think there is a good vegan community in Ottawa. Like I previously mentioned, the vegan restaurants I go to are always packed and there is a lot of activity on the VeganofOttawa IG page.

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

The advice I would give to people interested in veganism is that it’s a lot easier than you think. There is a way to veganize all your favourite dishes. It doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to spend a ton of money of crazy vegan specialty products. If you care about your health, the animals and the environment, it is the best way to live your life.

Any other tips and tricks?

My tips and tricks would be making sure you look at nutrition labels. Companies like to sneak animal products into foods you would never expect to not be vegan. Make sure you’re enjoying the foods you’re eating and reach out to vegan community pages; it will really make you realize that you’re not alone, especially if you don’t have supportive people during your transition period. Also, remember that the animals and the planet will thank you for being vegan!

Justin’s Vegan Essentials:

Vegan Snacks (Homemade or Purchased) – It’s got to be crackers or veggies with hummus or the occasional vegan chips.

Vegan Desserts (Homemade or Purchased) – Usually a chocolate bar or vegan ice cream. I love making my own nice cream or date brownies.

Sources of Plant-based Protein – My plant based protein comes from beans, lentils, oats, quinoa and sometimes Vivolife protein powder.

Blogs and/or Social Media – I follow a ton of vegans on YouTube and Instagram so that’s where my social media influences come from.

Cookbooks and/or Recipes – I get the majority of my recipes online (YouTube) but I like to experiment so sometimes just throwing things together and hoping for the best is a good cooking method.

Follow Justin on Instagram at @worldaccordingtojustin.