We spoke with Lucas Solowey. Lucas is a passionate advocate for animal protection, delicious plant-based cuisine, and sustainable living, and recently filled in as the Interim General Manager at Toronto Vegetarian Association and ran Toronto’s Veg Food Fest this year (North America’s largest vegetarian food festival!). We found out how our local community in Toronto supports the meat-free movement, what the Veg Food Fest finally added in their 31st that was huge success, and why “Vegan Christmas” is in September.
What are your food rules?
I try my best to live my life by the golden rule, to treat others as I wish to be treated. I went vegetarian at quite a young age when I found out that I was eating my animal friends. I have lived half of my life as vegan and do my best to only consume delicious foods that not only help my body thrive but also support sustainability and make the world a better. (We love to eat this way too! Here are Lisa’s Food Rules).
What advice do you have for someone interested in going veg but not sure where to start?
There has never been an easier time to move towards a plant-based diet! You can take baby steps with a program like Meatless Monday’s, sign up for a 7-day Veggie Challenge, or try a great new veg restaurant or recipe. Make sure to get your Veg Card which gets you amazing discounts at veg restaurants, health food stores, and more in the GTA. (There are so many delicious options in Toronto! These are our top picks).
My advice is to just do it! Whether you’re eating veg for your health, the animals or the planet, every meal makes a difference. Have fun with it, try new foods and restaurants.
Some additional tips:
1. Eat what you’re craving but just veganize it. Simply google what you’re in the mood to eat and put the word “vegan” in front of it. (A great cookbook can help too!)
2. Get social. Going veggie with friends will help keep you all motivated and on track with your goal. You can also join a veg social group or meetup!
The TVA is responsible for many delicious events across the city, and you ran the Veg Food Fest recently. Is it your favourite event?
Veg Food Fest is a magical time of year! Delicious vegan food, amazing talks, cooking demos, musical entertainment and fun! I’m already excited for next year. Keep your eyes out for vegfoodfest.com or @vegfoodfest for updates. (It’s an event we always look forward to too! Some of our favourite memories from this year are Sweets from the Earth’s S’mores Cookies, and Doug McNish’s organic tostadas + poutine!).
What is the most challenging aspect of running North America’s largest vegetarian food festival?
I would say that the logistics of working with 120 vendors, set-up for the many speakers, musical acts and cooking demos. Our staff works extremely hard to make it all possible. (We can only imagine!)
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment of the festival? Biggest failure?
Hmm.. I kept overhearing people refer to Veg Food Fest as “Vegan Christmas” so that must be a good thing! People come for the food and love every bite of it. I would say this year that the addition of the Vegan Wine & Beer Tent was a big accomplishment. The rain definitely impacted the turnout, however those who attended still had a great time.
Do you consider yourself an activist?
I do consider myself an activist. Being an activist means doing our best to make a difference in this world, and each and every day we can do our part. Being part of a community and taking tangible steps towards progress and change has been an important part of my life. It inspires me, teaches me new lessons and gives me hope for the future.
Favourite places in Toronto to:
Get together with friends?
Beach days on Toronto Island in the summer, wander around Kensington Market, or check out a local brewery.
Doug’s Public Kitchen, Hogtown Vegan, and The Steady. (We love Doug’s best, too!)
Pick up groceries?
My favourite grocery store is The Big Carrot.
We know it’s 10 months away, but mark your calendars now for next year’s Veg Food Fest to enjoy the best from Toronto’s veg community!
Tweet with Lucas at @LucasSolowey, and connect with him on Linkedin too. Photo credit to Jo-Anne McArthur.