11 days spent in Toronto has absolutely changed my life for the better. The following is a recap of the very best vegan moments!
We arrived at The Lunch Room with an APPETITE. I treated myself to the Pad Thai and Vanilla Almond cupcake. I enjoyed sitting outside in the summer sun and soaking up the great Michigan vibes. We also had a chance to cross paths with the other Chicago car of activists headed up to Toronto for the street blockade. That car included Kelsey Atkinson, Dana Brewbaker, and Evelyn Luviano.
The Lunch Room staff was SO friendly. In fact, when I mentioned at the table I was in need of some maple syrup for breakfast time in Toronto- James our server slyly slipped a side serving TOGO of maple syrup onto our table. “What? You said you needed maple syrup!” Then we all had to chat about the endless possibilities of maple syrup in Canada. Mmmm ~ Maple Syrup > Agave.
All this talk once again worked up our appetites- and all 8 of us pigged out when our delicious meals arrived. I had a veggie burrito and poutine fries. I LOVED Green Earth! And I must admit what I loved most was the literature they have available at the counter. All vegan lit informing what meat does to the human body and environment. Even Direct Action Everywhere had its own literature pile to be shared with the public! This is amazing to see because in Chicago not a single vegan restaurant that I know of has ever supported Direct Action Everywhere. A lot of people view the organization as “controversial.” Yet in Canada, activism is not so “taboo,” and it turns out there are a LOT of supporters of DXE! I now view activism as the moral baseline. DXE has the goal of turning vegetarians into vegans- and vegans into activists. Simple as that.
We finished up at Green Earth and headed out on a very long walk into the heart of downtown Toronto. Friday was designated as our exploration day. All of the activists who joined me on the trip for the protest would be leaving by Tues morning- but I would be staying another 6 days longer than them. So Friday was yet another great day to bond with them and site-see. First stop – CN Tower! We chose to not pay the money to go up to the top, but rather take a selfie at the bottom!
Next we strolled through Christie Pits Park and digested our defiant vegan meals, played with a parakeet from South America, and strolled around the neighborhoods until sundown. Some friends went out that evening for a drink. I knew I had to save my energy for the big protest the next day.
Saturday came and we were all prepared to meet in the Peace Garden downtown at noon before the protest. There were SO many activists gathered around in red DXE shirts it was overwhelming. As it turns out there were 120 activists who showed that day.
With that we took to the streets! We blocked off a major intersection downtown with motorcycle back up, drums beating loud from the activists, and voices roaring in our chant “No excuses let the animals LIVE!” The cars of course were furious with sporadic honking. But none of the cars dare cross our paths. In that moment time stood still and we truly DID have a voice for the animals. Some activists even ran out to these cars to hand them literature on veganism. I have never seen such an organized, peaceful and effective protest in all of my life. I shouted until my throat was warning me to stop. I gave it all I could in our chant- and was so excited to see we were moving! We moved from the intersection into the streets and continued the chant and leafleting to passing cars. And then into the local mall, Eaton Centre. We stopped in front of Forever 21 and continued the chant. All eyes and ears were on us. Our voices were heard for the animals!
After the mall we headed back into the park and then concluded a quite long and highly effective protest. We regrouped and recapped- and headed out for lunch! About 40 activists showed up at Cosmic Treats in Kensington Market for lunch at the same time, and let’s just say those servers weren’t too happy! But we had an amazing lunch and a great time getting to know other activists of Toronto. Then over to the park across from Cosmic Treats for the drum circle and hang out time. It was there that I met my current partner, Carlos Cartaxo! He was sitting there in the park, asked me to join and sit with him and I did. We’ve been inseparable ever since!
After working up an appetite volunteering we headed to the highly anticipated location of Doomie’s! I have seen so many pictures online of this mouthwatering vegan restaurant and I was most excited for this experience. Doomie’s is famous for making every day comfort food seem “non vegan.” The joke is to bring one of your omnivore friends there and see if THEY can tell the difference. It’s so close to the real deal it’s freaky. Although I’m sure all of the Vegan Sidekick art on the wall would give it away to that omnivore friend.
To work off the insane amount of calories we just consumed (I blame the ‘Big Mac’) – we then headed to Cherry St Beach to dance the night away. Best beach dance party I’ve ever been to! So chill.
After our 2 hour hike we headed to the local grocery store to stock up on all our vegan needs for a picnic right in front of Niagara Falls. My oh my did we PIG OUT. Niagara Falls was everything I had hoped for and more. EXCEPT for the ziplining – I had hoped to do that but when we looked at the line it clearly wasn’t worth it. The line is against the edge of earth leading down to the falls rather than going across the water to get a beautiful view of the falls. John knew this area like the back of his hand and had been to Niagara Falls so many times- yet was pleased to be our tour guide the entire time! Best tour guide ever! So patient and informative we all had such a great time.
I could continue about the next week of my beautiful journey in Toronto (including my experience of the awesome Vegan Food Fest on August 13th) but I believe our experience of Niagara Falls is a perfect way to end it. Plus all of my friends had left the next morning and I then journeyed myself to my friend Alex’s place in West Toronto. Where I would stay for the remainder of my visit. I fell madly in love with West Toronto. Yoga, vegan restaurants, vintage shops and parks galore in West Toronto!