Vegans of Ottawa – Savannah Greene

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.

Ever had a lightbulb moment that was so powerful, you never looked back? That is exactly what happened almost three years ago to Savannah Greene, a Virginia, Ontario native now living in the Glebe. The Soylent report shows: 10% of U.S. adults identify as vegan and the numbers are growing here in Canada too. Hit by the solemn truth featured in a couple of incredible documentaries, she decided to give up animal products for good. We talked to her about animal rights, finding vegan friends and tasting the vegan goods that Ottawa has to offer.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?

Savannah Greene: In my first year of university, I watched the movies ‘The Cove’ and ‘Blackfish’ with my boyfriend. I was heartbroken and vowed to never visit aquariums or zoos again. However, my boyfriend, who had been vegetarian since birth, quickly pointed out my hypocrisy for continuing to participate in purchasing products from the dairy, meat and clothing industry. I decided to challenge myself to go vegetarian for a week. Three months later, I found out about the harm that cows used for dairy and chickens used for eggs experience. I decided I couldn’t partake in any animal abusive industries further and went vegan that day with my boyfriend.

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

I found the transition from vegetarian to vegan fairly easy. I did it overnight and never looked back. I think it was easy for me because my boyfriend did it with me. However, I also think that all the amazing options in Ottawa made it easy to not miss my previous favourite foods. If you keep the animals lives you are saving in mind, it makes the journey absolutely simple.

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

I think I have a standard answer to this question, that you will hear from all animal activists. I find the most challenging part about being vegan is dealing with people’s responses to veganism. Once you find out about these industries, it is hard to hear your friends and family defend the murder of millions of animals; however, I know that my opinions were the same before I decided that what I was doing couldn’t be justified.

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

I have gained so many benefits from being vegan. I have made so many amazing friends in the animal rights community and expanded my palette tremendously. In every way, my life has positively changed.

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

Hmm… There are so many it is hard to choose.

  • Café my House – Onion burger and Waffle B.L.T.
  • Strawberry Blonde – Strawberry Donut (SB if you see this, pretty please put this item on your menu daily!)
  • And lastly, the vegan options at ‘So Good’.

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

I shop everywhere. It depends what I want really. I like the farmers market for bread and the Loon Kombucha, but otherwise I shop at Independent, Walmart, and Whole Foods.

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

100%! No matter what interest you have in veganism there is a group for you. Ottawa Animal Defense, Ottawa Farm Animal Save, Carleton Animal Defense, Direct Action Everywhere, Voiceless for the Anonymous, the Garden-Spot, Ottawa Vegetarians and Vegans Facebook… The list goes on. If you have are interested in finding vegan friends or getting involved in activism, please reach out to these groups.

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

DO IT! There is no time like the present. Veganism is a revolution and eventually will spread across the nation. Be a part of the beginning. Do it for you, your health, the environment, future generations and most importantly FOR THE ANIMALS!

Any other tips or tricks?

Eat out! I know a lot of people who have never tried food from the vegan Ottawa Scene. These restaurants make everyday food vegan and it’s a great way to try things out when transitioning.

Don’t give up on vegan cheese if the first one you tried was horrible. There are amazing brands out there; you just need to find them. Try CHAO!

If you are nervous about missing out on nutrients, go to a doctor and get a check-up. You likely are fine, but if you’re low on something than you can search for vegan foods in a nutrient area you might be neglecting.

NOOCH! Nutritional yeast is a game change, never go without it.

Lastly, find yourself a vegan friend. It makes the transition easier, as well as eating out. Plus, meeting new people is awesome!

Savannah’s Vegan Essentials:

Vegan Snacks (Homemade or Purchased) – So Delicious cashew ice cream or all-dressed Ruffles.

Vegan Desserts (Homemade or Purchased) – Hmmm if I go to Wellington I stop by Strawberry Blonde and Little Jo’s at the same time. However, I am also obsessed with Thimblecakes cupcakes.

Sources of Plant-based Protein – Honestly, I live such an average life that I never go out of my way to get extra protein. My normal foods: leafy greens, beans, oats, tofu, etc. have all that I need. I will bring cliff bars with me when I travel.

Blogs and/or Social Media – Hot for Food, Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, & Thug Kitchen + Bosh on Facebook + general Pinterest ‘vegan’ recipes.

Cookbooks and/or Recipes – Hot for Food, Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, & Thug Kitchen

Local Takeout Spots – So Good (salt & pepper tofu), Subway, Harvey’s, Pizza Pizza, Milano’s, Panago’s… Can you tell I love Pizza?