Vegans of Ottawa – Marlee Martin

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.

Marlee Martin, otherwise known as @thattallvegan on Instagram, is known for sharing daily doses of vegan food inspiration with her followers. Marlee is a Barrie, Ontario native but currently lives in Nepean and has been vegan for about a year. Here, the 23-year-old holistic nutrition student discusses socializing as a vegan and the importance of educating yourself.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?

Marlee Martin: I became educated on the meat and dairy industries and was shocked about what I learned. I also started watching documentaries about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, and the torture animals go through. Once I realized I don’t need animal products to survive I couldn’t eat them anymore without feeling guilty.

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

I have vegan friends back home, and my roommate is vegan so that helps a lot! The only hard part was getting some family members to understand why I am vegan. Other than that, it has been super easy!

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 would be family gatherings. It’s easier now, but at first everyone had lots of questions, concerns, and of course, jokes. I always bring a bunch of homemade vegan food and everyone tries it and loves it! I love answering people’s questions and helping them understand why I went vegan.

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

The greatest benefit for me has been health. Even though sometimes I can be a junky vegan I have never felt so energized and vibrant. I struggled with acne my whole life, and being vegan has helped clear up most of it! I am also losing weight that I have wanted to lose for a long time. I feel so healthy and full of energy because of this lifestyle.

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

My favourite vegan place in Ottawa has to be Little Jo Berry’s. Every week they have new and exciting pastries, and lunch items! My favourite thing is the pizza that she sells on Fridays. Friends and I try to go every Friday for lunch for pizza and a pastry, and it is amazing every single time.

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

For most of my food I go to food basics or Wal-Mart. I buy a bunch of fresh veg for snacks and meals. Frozen fruit for smoothie bowls. I buy a lot of grains, nuts, dates, and nutritional yeast at bulk barn.

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

When I moved here I joined the Ottawa vegan and vegetarian page on Facebook and that has helped so much! I have met people through the page and though Instagram. The fb page posts about meet ups and I am excited to start going to those!

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

Educate yourself by watching videos, reading books, watching docs. It really helps to go vegan once you see all the terrible things the dairy and meat industries do. Start learning the physical, mental, and environmental benefits of going vegan. If you don’t have any friends or family that are vegan go to meet ups, go to vegan cafes and restaurants to meet some people.

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

If you are worried about going out to eat with friends, don’t be. Almost all restaurants have a vegan option. If I look on the menu and they don’t seem to have something I can make vegan it helps to call the restaurant. Most times the chefs are more than willing to accommodate you!

Marlee’s Vegan Essentials:

Snacks – Crackers/carrots and hummus

Sources of Plant-based Protein – Beans, lentils, tofu

Blogs – High carb Hannah, Sweet Simple Vegan

Cookbooks and/or Recipes – Thug Kitchen, Lean and Clean

Social Media – Kalel, High Carb Hannah, hot for food