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Join in taking the Vegan Challenge during Earth Week from April 17-23. staff, contributors and users are encouraged to go vegan for a week to help protect the environment, show compassion for animals and enjoy some wholesome nutritious and yummy food!

Going vegan is one of the strongest ways most of us can contribute to Earth Week and make every day Earth Day! Making your “hoofprint” smaller will reduce your ecological footstep by cutting down on your carbon footprint, diminishing pollution of air, water and land, and helping stymie the destruction of ecosystems being swallowed up to produce feed for farm animals.

We hope you will join us by saying you’ll “attend” on our facebook event, and share updates about the experience in the comments section, and on babble.

You can also take the Vegan Challenge yourself as an individual, you can get your co-workers involved or even ask the whole workplace to volunteer and take the VC together. It’ll make it more fun and also gives you an opportunity to share your recipes and nutritious and delicious experiments!

We’ve put together tips and resources for you, in collaboration with the Toronto Vegetarian Association and Toronto Pig Save. We have everything you need: the menus, the shopping list, the nutritional tips, and the information about how participation helps the Earth, the animals, and your health.

Below are some tips with a Canadian focus. You can also visit the Vegan Challenge website on (yup, we like something on Oprah!): Your Vegan Starter Kit.

10 tips on taking the vegan challenge at your workplace

(1) Register with us for the Earth Week Vegan Challenge on our FB site and join the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s Veggie Challenge (they’ll send you daily emails with simple and tasty recipes and other helpful information and tips).

(2) Invite your co-workers to volunteer to take the vegan pledge during Earth Week. Circulate a sign up sheet for those potentially interested, set up a meeting, and create a Facebook group or blog (e.g. a free wordpress blog) to discuss ideas, recipes, get-togethers and events.

(3) Hold a Vegan Challenge kick-off day at lunchtime. The kick-off can include leaflets with environmental, health and fitness information, easy recipes, a Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) vegetarian directory, and desserts provided by the host. Don’t forget decadent desserts, since these are often the most enjoyable of any culture’s food.

(4) Veganize your meals. One of the first questions you may get asked: “But what do you eat?” The Toronto Vegetarian Association list recipes with healthy, fresh, and whole foods that are fast and easy. See their vegan lunch ideas and sign up for their Veggie Challenge and receive tips every day here.

You can use fake meats like veggie dogs and veggie burgers to veganize traditional meat-based meals. Or try substituting beans or lentils for a healthier approach. Also, instead of focusing too much on processed fake meats and to avoid going heavy on the soy products — which fall for the “where do you get your protein myth” — try recipes with whole foods that are tasty and healthy.

You can have healthy, whole food smoothies (green smoothies), vegan ice creams, cheap, healthy nut chocolate coconut desert that’s easy, portable, and great for potlucks. You can eat more healthy raw food by eating more fresh fruit and veggies. For example, buy a cored pineapple, when you get home cut it into strips and then into chunks from that, put it back in the container it came in and add these to smoothies, eat them fresh, and know they are a fast easy snack ready to go if you get hungry instead of grabbing chips, cookies or something else that’s not great for you.

If you suspect that you are sensitive to wheat or gluten look for gluten-free products. Take note of your wheat consumption as wheat can be congesting for a lot of people. When they replace meat or dairy/cheese based meals with wheat based foods like pasta and breads, they can feel tired and think it’s the lack of animal products when actually it’s that they’re taking to too much wheat. Overconsumption of wheat tires a lot of people — more and more people are sensitive to wheat products and don’t realize it — since it’s a slow, congesting, fatiguing reaction which isn’t as obvious as immediate full blown nut allergies. Some suggested alternatives are Ezecial Bread 4:9 “sesame” (green label) — even though it has some wheat in it, it’s sprouted so it’s easier to digest and usually fine for a lot of people. Ezecial Bread 4:9 also has cinnamon raisin english muffins, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns — as alternatives to regular wheat bread. You can find it in the freezer section of health food stores as well as the health sections of some big chains such as Loblaws, also in the freezer section. And because you keep it in the freezer, you end up using it all up and not eating too much bread all at once because it’s going to go bad.

(5) Bring vegan lunches to work or have a vegan potluck at your workplace. Different people could be encouraged to bring in something for the office on different days. See for ideas. Sharing the food preparation makes it less daunting for everyone during the busy work week.

(6) Hold a vegan potluck at your work and at your homes.

(7) Take your co-workers out to a vegan restaurant. The Toronto Vegetarian Association Veggielicious campaign (April 9-24) has an interactive map highlighting participating restaurants and vegan specials.

(8) Resources and a study circle: Consider setting up a study circle where people can talk about the ethics, health, and environmental issues related to animal vs vegan diets). Just as Oprah did on her show, you can talk about what happens to farm animals in factory farms, transport and slaughter. The Toronto Pig Save website has artwork and journalistic photos and videos showing images of pigs and other farm animals facing slaughter.

There are some great resources and films you can watch. See Paul McCartney’s Glass Walls video at the PETA website: “MAKING THE CONNECTION” film highlights the impact of an animal based diet on climate change and water, air and land pollution. You can watch it for free on the web here.

PETA also has a campaign which addresses the links between climate change and diet.

There are many useful books to guide you on your journey:

The classic book Diet For a New America by John Robbins (of Baskin + Robbins Ice Cream fame), first published in 1987. John Robinson led the way in making the connections between a meat and diary-based diet and environmental destruction. He founded EarthSave Foundation to promote a vegan diet.

See Kathy Freston’s The Veganist for recipes and nutrition and Becoming Vegan: the complete guide to adopting a healthful plant-based diet by Registered Dietitians (RD) Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina.

Another book of interest is The vegan diet as chronic disease prevention: evidence supporting the new four food groups by Kerrie Saunders.

The Vegan Society has a useful section on nutrition. The Engine 2 Diet by firefighter Rip Esselstyn discusses introducing the VC at your workplace.

(9) Hold a final day celebration with prizes. The celebration can include different literature so people can learn more and go further. You can award prizes and hold a draw for a prize as well.

(10) Try a month-long Vegan Challenge. If the one-week Vegan Challenge inspired you, consider continuing with week two, three, and four! PCRM has a 21-day Vegan Kick-Start program. The Toronto Vegetarian Association has a phase 2 Veggie Plan with four weeks worth of menu plans and recipes, giving you a choice of menus to start with.