Vegans of Ottawa – Scotia Lowden

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.

Scotia Lowden grew up in a small town outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Otherwise known to her Instagram followers as @LilChubbyVegan, she will be celebrating 4 years of veganism this October. Currently living in Centretown, she loves being submerged in the city life and what it has to offer. We spoke with her about the value of forming friendships and making connections.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to become a vegan?

Scotia Lowden: Years ago, I used to visit a nature trail here in Kanata to feed deer and turkey. I loved doing this and it always made me so happy to see the various types of wildlife. I began to connect what was on my plate to these animals and immediately went vegetarian. After being vegetarian for 2 years, I made the transition to veganism knowing that the milk and dairy industry were just as detrimental to animals as the meat industry.

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

The transition was difficult for a few months but knowing that I was making a compassionate and healthy decision made all the difference. The vegan scene is progressing so quickly that replacement products are readily available along with an overwhelming amount of information, documentaries, recipes and support from the vegan community.

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

For me personally, the hardest challenge about being vegan is understanding why others are not. I’ve never been one to push my views on others and rather lead by example. After years of seeing the personal and global improvements that this diet can achieve, it’s heartbreaking to watch others mindlessly consume animal products.

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

The greatest benefit I have gained through this lifestyle is the community and friendship that has come along with this journey. I’ve met some of my closest friends through this community and have connected with so many others on their vegan journey. It’s very rewarding to hear from others that they’ve made the transition to veganism because of your influence.

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

My go to spot in Ottawa is Pure Kitchen. If you haven’t been yet, you need to go now! Their falafel wrap is to die for, along with the cauliflower wings. Another favourite of mine is The Table, a staple restaurant for Ottawa’s vegetarians and vegans. They boast a hot and cold bar that is pay by weight. Lastly and most importantly, the dessert! My favourite spot is Strawberry Blonde Bakery. Their menu is entirely vegan and gluten free. I highly recommend their chai maple cake.

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

On a typical week, I get my everyday groceries at Farm Boy and other chain grocery stores. My specialty items come from Whole Foods, Rainbow Foods and The Natural Food Pantry. My grocery list typically includes a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, rice, potatoes, almond and cashew milk, nut butter, oats and tofu. Twice a month or so, I’ll treat myself to specialty items such as vegan yogurt, cashew cheese and chocolate.

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

Definitely! I’m still new to living back in Ottawa after spending 3 years in Ottawa but it’s amazing to see how the community has grown. There are vegan picnics and potlucks hosted quite frequently that I’m looking forward to being a part of.

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

It’s the best choice you’ll ever make and I stand behind that so strongly. Once you make the switch and the connection, the only regret that you’ll have is that you didn’t do it sooner.

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

My best advice for new vegans is to not overwhelm yourself. You don’t need to be the picture perfect vegan right from the start but as long as you’re making an effort, that’s what matters. The animals won’t mind if your meals don’t look pretty! Educating yourself on the health and environmental benefits of a vegan lifestyle can really assist in giving you the push that you need. Sending love to all my fellow vegans and future vegans xx

Scotia’s Vegan Essentials:

Snacks (Homemade of Purchased) – Veggies and hummus or almond yogurt with fresh fruit and granola.

Desserts (Homemade of Purchased) – Raw brownie balls! The recipe is from The Table’s vegetarian cookbook.

Sources of Plant-based Protein – I like to get my protein in its true form most of the time through vegetables, beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh. Time to time, I have Vega vanilla protein powder as well as Lenny and Larry’s protein cookies.

Blogs and/or Social Media – My favourite Instagram accounts these days are Minimalist Baker, Hot For Food, Oh She Glows and Faring Well.

Cookbooks and/or Recipes – Oh She Glows is always my go to.

Local Takeout Spots – Asian Stars on Clyde is great when you’re craving Asian comfort food.