It is difficult enough to find a vegetarian restaurant, but to come across a vegetarian food bank is a pleasant surprise. Scarborough is home to the only vegetarian food bank in North America.
Malan Joseph, CEO of the Vegetarian Food Bank was inspired to create the food bank after meeting several low-income vegetarians at the temple he frequented with his wife who is Hindu and a strict vegetarian.
Ironically, Joseph was not vegetarian when he founded the food bank but has since become one and admitted it was a slow process.
“A lot of my friends and family would say to me ‘how to can you run a vegetarian food bank and promote the vegetarian diet when you eat meat?’” Joseph said.
The food bank also runs workshops on the health benefits of the vegetarian diet and how to get started on that path so you get all your proper nutrients.
“People in North America eat too much meat and they don’t even know what they are eating,” Joseph said.
Joseph is also active in helping new Canadians,“When newcomers come to Canada they are provided with information about the food bank in their welcome package,” he said.
The Vegetarian Food Bank is not funded by the government and is completely dependent on donations.
The animal advocacy group Animal Alliance is a strong supporter of the Vegetarian Food Bank, according to Joseph. Liz White, media relations with Animal Alliance explained that the vegan diet can solve many of the current serious issues facing the planet.
“Raising animals for food is the single most greatest cause of global warming and pollution. It creates more pollution and environmental degradation than all methods of transportation put together world-wide,” White said.
Raising animals for food is very expensive and uses huge amounts of water and land yet the process yields a small amount of food,she added.
“If we spent the same amount of money growing grains we would get so much more food in return and we could feed all the starving people of the world,” White said.
Eating too much protein is hard for our organs such as the kidneys and liver to process and is also the most difficult thing for our bodies to digest, White explained.
According to Animal Alliance the factory farm’s main concern is to maximize profits and this is done by slaughtering and processing as many animals as possible as fast as possible.
“There is no way this can be done in a humane manner. These animals are raised in severely confined spaces and are slaughtered in horrible ways,” White said.
The animals are just thought of as a commodity, and there is no concern whatsoever for their well being,she continued.
The current tainted beef scandal at the Excel meat processing plant in Edmonton is an indication of the lack of regulations and inspectors at these plants,according to White.
“If these meat processing plants cannot even follow the laws in regards to food safety, then you can just imagine how concerned they are with animal welfare,” White said.
Animal Alliance was successful in putting pressure on the Canadian government to pass legislation to ban the handling of downer cows. Downer cows are cattle that have broken or injured legs that were previously allowed to be transported and dragged around for the purpose of slaughtering them.
“There is legislation in place now banning this practice although it still goes on of course because there are not enough Inspectors to ensure the laws are actually followed,” White said.