Gone Vegetarian

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Fact: I spent eight years as a vegetarian.

Fact: Bacon and hamburgers are now two favourite foods.

If you’d like to know more about how this exactly happened, you can read about it here. Even though I love my meat now, I was still pumped for Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Fair. 

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There were a lot of veggies…

…and Simply Bars!

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…and blogger friends!!

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But first, we start at the beginning.

The fair runs all weekend and kicked off early Friday evening with an event I absolutely could not miss.

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Brendan Brazier is the author of The Thrive Diet, the man behind Vega food products and one of the world’s only Ironman triathletes who follows a plant-based diet. I’ve read a couple of his books now. Even though I could never follow his diet exactly, I really love his reasoning behind why he does what he does. He mostly talked about the key ideas in The Thrive Diet. It was neat to hear it come from Brendan himself and a welcome reminder that food is so important to how our bodies function! Here some points to remember I wrote down:

 

  • Many people look to food for energy, but it’s just as important to conserve energy as it is to consume it. Try not to eat foods that require extra energy to digest (ie highly processed foods)
  • We are a generation and nation of people who are both obese and malnourished. Many people overeat because they think they feel hungry. However, oftentimes it’s a chemical in our brain that is signalling that it wants nutrients, not just any old food.
  • 48% of stress is attributed to diet. Yes, our food is causing us stress. Cortisol is a hormone released when we are stressed, causing weight gain and the body to retain fat (adipose tissue).
  • Reducing stress (and eating well) will help you go into the delta phase when sleeping. You will go into a deeper sleep, thus needing fewer hours of sleep as opposed to more hours of lighter sleep. This deep sleep also allows your body to repair more quickly from exercise and training.
  • The increase in osteoporosis is not necessarily linked to a lack of calcium in our diets, but rather losing calcium in our bones. Today’s typical diet is high in acidic foods which take calcium from our skeleton. Dairy being one of the most acidic of foods (go figure). It’s important to get plenty of alkaline foods like green vegetables to counterbalance that.
  • In terms of athletic performance, it is really important to eat foods that reduce inflammation caused by training. Processed foods, such as protein isolates, don’t actually help muscle inflammation. Better quality and whole proteins (he used hemp as an example) are better for muscle repair.
  • Studies have shown that cheese triggers a chemical reaction in the brain when you eat it. So yes, it’s possible to be addicted to cheese ;)

Neat, eh? I’m particularly interested in this now both because I’m doing a nutrition course, but also because I have vegetarian/vegan/raw clients. I want to know how they can get the most out of their diets!

After seeing Brendan speak, I wandered around the fair for a bit. I got my posture checked by the network spinal analysis booth. I would best describe it as a hippie chiropractor without the cracking ;) My sister swears by this method as a means to realign your spine, so I was already interested!

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They took my photo and analyzed it for me. Apparently my left shoulder droops and my hips pop out too much in the front. Verrrry interesting.

I went back to the fair today and met up with Morgan, Miranda and Kristin to see Meghan Telpner’s cooking demonstration.

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Meghan is a Toronto-based nutritionist who I know from her blog Making Love in the Kitchen. Her demo was so fun! Not to mention, we got to try some of the goodies ;)

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Homemade granola (delicious).

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A healthy “cookie.”

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Homemade hummus. I think it had walnuts in it? It was pretty good. Meghan also demonstrated how to make your own nut/seed milk and it was so easy! I want to try it!

More wandering ensued. You know that saying “like a kid in a candy store?”

It should be changed to “like food bloggers at a food fair” ;)

Samples included but were not limited to…

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Hemp seed butter. I was shocked by how much I liked this!

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Kale chips and veggie crackers. Big thumbs up to the ketchup kale chips. Gotta love Canadian health food companies.

Best sample of both Friday and Saturday was Coconut Bliss ice cream.

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Made with coconut milk instead of cow’s cream. I have an aversion to heavy creams and loved the coconut flavour in these!

After much sampling, we decided it was time for a real meal. It was off to the food tent chock full of vegetarian and vegan fare.

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A lot of the food was Mexican, Indian or Chinese, which while meat-free, isn’t necessarily light on the tummy. I instead opted for a Garden Salad Roll. 

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Eaten on the lawn in front of the music stage.

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With a side of overpriced melon.

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Do not be fooled, we were not in a grassy field like the above photos suggest. But on a sprawl of fake green turf in the middle of a city.

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It was somewhere around here where I said goodbye to my bloggie friends and got to work!

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Above photo stolen from Kristin As most of you know, I’m an ambassador for The Simply Bar. I lovelovelove these bars, so I help them out at events and get reimbursed with free bars. Winwin!

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The next three hours consisted of me chopping up millions of little samples to hand out to the eager fair-goers.

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We also sampled the new Simply Protein Oatmeal. I got a bag today and I am pumped to try it!!

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As well as a peanut butter coconut pea protein bar for those who can’t eat soy. It’s good. A lot heartier than the regular soy bar, which is very light and crispy.

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Overall, I had a blast hanging out at the fair and then working at one of the booths. It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by people who are as into food, and healthy food, as I am! Even if they’re…uh…a little more enthusiastic.

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Morgan, Me, Mr. Pea, Miranda and Kristin.

Just don’t tell him I came home from the veggie fair and ate a chicken sandwich ;)

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Posted on September 11, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Aww looks like you guys had an awesome time! I’m sad I couldn’t make it, but hopefully I’ll be around next year. And don’t worry, your chicken secret is safe with me ;)

  2. This is awesome! Can’t wait to go tomorrow :)
    p.s. What nutrition course are you taking? I’m debating going back to school for RD…

    • I’m doing the Nutrition & Wellness Specialist certification through CanFitPro – the same body as my personal training certification. It’s basically so I can give nutrition counselling on top of my workout programs :)

  3. “obese and malnourished”–AMEN!! Yes!
    I also think it’s possible for many vegetarians to eat tons of junk, i.e. lots of heavy doughy based foods, chips, a carbfest and be very low on real nutrients too. Dare I say unless one is actually eating vegetable and fruits as a veggie/vegan, you can be a very unhealthy person too. I have known many of those!

    The whole thing about dairy being acidic and actually leaching calcium from the bones AND being addicted to cheese/diary, yes, it’s called casomorphins and I have posted about it here.

    http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2010/03/dairy-faqs-allergies-calcium-myths.html

    Delete this comment if you hate my link dropping. Sorry, I just feel so passionately about it!

    The simply bar w/ pea protein and coconut…nice!!

    The fact that you saw Brendan in person, oh, so jealz!!!!!

    LOVE this post, Susan!!!

  4. Hey Susan!
    I met you at the Simply Bar Booth. I am now the happy owner of a box of their coconut lemon bars. Love those. I can’t believe I missed the Coconut Bliss samples. Dang it!

    I love your blog and it was great to say hello at the Food Fair.
    Jill

  5. That looks like so much fun!

    I don’t think we have a veggie festival here but I bet I could find one that happens in a city nearby!
    I’ll be on the lookout!

  6. Looks like such a brilliant event, I would love to go to something like that. I think its great that you eat meat and diary etc but can then apprechiate all that vegetarian food, I’m very much the same, I love experimenting with veggie and vegan foods but also enjoy meat every so often x

  7. Great job on this post. Looks very interresting. You sure are taking advantage of your location, taking in all there is to offer. I am anxious to hear what you are learning from your Nutrition course.

  8. I had such a fun time with you, it was a great day!

    Oh, and I totally suck because I intended to go back and get some protein oatmeal. Whoops… Maybe I’ll get you to pick me up some next event :)

    Loved the pea guy, lol

    xo
    Kris

  9. YUM! So many delicious samples. Very neat that you’re a Simply Bar ambassador!

    Haha pea-pod man looks pretty great.

  10. Ahahah, Mr Pea looks funny :D what a great day you’ve had, I wish we had fairs like that in Finland too!

  11. If anyone does head down to the veg food fair… I fell in love with the mushroom tacos. Plain and delicious. corn tortilla with mushrooms, onion and cilantro. that is it. Simple simple yum yum. There was amazing food and the hard part is just getting to try it all!

    Susan: Once again your pics are amazing! And thank you for your help!

  12. Oh dear,
    I made that last comment while logged in as my work blog profile. Here’s the link to my food blog: http://www.madebyjill.wordpress.com

  13. What a fun day! I spent just over 8 years as a vegetarian too and while I don’t really have plans to go back, days spent eating good veggie and vegan food are hard to beat!

  14. haha love the last photo with Mr. Pea! awesome!!!

  15. Sorry I missed you at the fair but I DID find the Simply Bar tent and buy SIX bars! I even had the chocolate peanut butter one after my disgustingly long run today!

  16. Your story about your food choices is great – I’ve been wondering if I ever am going to eat meat again, and it’s great to see that if I do go that route it’s entirely possible to be very health-minded at the same time. I’m it;s gnot sure if I want to incorporate meat again (not now, at any rate, but I’ve got a lotta life ahead of me), but it’s great to see that you’ve struck a good balance and feel healthier!

  17. Those salad rolls look delicious! I always forget how much I like them.

  18. All that food looks so good! You know, one of the things that I love about being and omnivore is that I can eat meat, veggie, or vegan any time I want! It’s all good :D

  19. I want to come hang out with you, just for like a day LOL! Your life is way more exciting than mine is!

    Jen

    http://jenslosinit.blogspot.com/

  20. I wish I could like simply bars…for the nutrition stats.
    I just find them dry and not very good….I’ve tried all the kinds too….
    The need more syrup or somthing…..
    But, I’m always up for a sample ;)

  21. WOOOOW Susan that looks amazing! I really wish I could have been there. Brendan’s talk sounds like it was really informative.Do you know when the Simply cereal will be coming out? I’d love to try some.

  22. Yum! You’ll have to let me know when the oatmeal comes out– I adored the Simply Bars.

  23. Looks super fun! I love food fairs!

  24. dude. toronto knows what’s up! you are always going to fun events. this one looked great. that garden wrap looks delicious and also like something you could easily make at home. it is so funny to recall that you were veg for so long. i remember when you fully embraced hamburgers again and it has been fun to watch your taste buds enjoy different foods! i’ve gotta get my hands on that protein oatmeal. it looks great! LOVE the pea suit~ it would be great for halloween! ha!

    xoxo

  25. How fun! I’m with you…not a vegetarian, but would love to go to something like this. The posture assessment is so interesting!

  26. Nope… no walnuts. Just mixed beans and I think I threw in some sesame seeds and veggies. Thank you so much for coming to check me out!

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