Unlikely Vegan Duo Saving Millions of Lives in Bulgaria


An Unlikely Vegan Duo Has Teamed Up To Make History By Saving Millions Of Animals (and kids!)

Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things. -Denis Diderot

And it is exactly that – a great passion for compassion that has brought Ashton and Denitsa together in the Vegan Beyond project to accomplish a great thing for animals while literally changing the course of history.ashton and denitsa

Having pursued a successful career in the US fast food industry,

Ashton has always felt that his achievements at work could never be fully celebrated by his heart,

as the industry to which growth he was contributing was not aligned with his core values and beliefs. Nor were they in alignment with the moral standards he had set for himself in his personal life. Despite the fact that upper management quickly noticed his talents and skills, Ashton was finding the monetary rewards that were coming from his rising career position less and less satisfying.

This is how about six years ago he teamed up with Denitsa, an internet marketing entrepreneur and consultant, asking for her services to help him gain his freedom by developing his own business and life coaching practice. After a few years of efforts, they not only succeeded to the point where Ashton was a sought after independent Business and Life coach, but the duo had developed a soul connection that would drive them to keep joining forces for the greater good!

Denitsa’s background is curious and versatile,

as she grew up in a picturesque region of Bulgaria, spending the summers in a wildly beautiful village, where her grandparents were growing chickens and rabbits for slaughter. At the age of 16 she moved to Switzerland for high school, and then the UK, where she completed her higher education, only to get a taste of the corporate environment in a large international organization, and then go back to the country that was calling her so strongly in her heart.compassionate christmas

Already a passionate animal advocate, she knew she had to come back to Bulgaria, which was calling her with all its desperation

for young people, who are ready to stand up and be the difference everyone wants to see!

Some of her most vivid childhood memories involve 5 baby rabbits, who she rescued by bottle feeding and taking care of after they lost their mother.

At this very fragile age of four or five she felt a pain she could hardly explain.

Deep down she knew that she was rescuing these rabbits only to have them killed later on, but she was numbing the thought, as it was too much for her child’s heart. The reality she grew up with was telling her that it is ‘normal’ to slaughter animals not only for food, but for various rituals throughout the year that would bring ‘health’ and ‘good luck’.

One of the reasons that today, as an adult, she shivers at the thought of going to the countryside is because the tradition of ritual slaughter is still alive – even more than ever!

One of the WORST periods for animals is Pre-Christmas time when villages are filled with the screams of millions of pigs, fighting for their last breath

Denitsa will never forget sitting inside the house, hearing the desperate screams, while her father and grandfathers would catch the pig they have been breeding for a year, pull him out of his ‘house’ and forcefully tie him only to have him killed! She would then feel the smell of the burned skin, and a bit later her granny would bring her the cooked meat with a big smile. Even a meat-eater would find the whole thing extremely ‘inhumane’ and unbearable.

This is a scene most Bulgarian children experience many times in their lifetime, and a tradition passed from generation to generation. Not all are lucky enough to only hear the screams! The boys usually sit there watching it all, ‘learning’ how it’s done!

While in Western Europe there is a ‘trend’ toward sustainability, in Bulgaria there is a trend towards ‘going back to the roots’ which means more ritual animal slaughters than ever!

These count up to millions, in addition to a reported yearly rise in meat consumption.

If we take Mahatma Gandhi’s quote:

‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated’ –

as true, then, despite an impressive historical record (involving the salvation of thousands of Jewish citizens during WW2), Bulgaria is very much behind!

When it comes to the treatment of animals, the situation in the country is close to a horror story!

Not only that, but 99% of the population is in complete informational block, regarding widespread health and environmental information, involving plant-based eating and the environmental impact a meat-heavy diet has on our planet.

The Solution

Ashton and Denitsa have come up with a long-term strategy plan to eradicate this cruel tradition and literally change history by changing how future generations are being raised! Joining their skills, talents, and experience, they have launched a Crowdfunding Campaign for the establishment a One-Of-A-Kind Cruelty-Free Center that will target the problem at its very root! Various recent examples with Denitsa’s local network have given proof that very little is needed for people to re-consider their behaviors! Her dad gave up the killing of two lambs for the opening of his car repairing service; another friend gave up meat just after a few interactions with her, and many others are willing to re-consider after receiving a tiny bit of education!

The issue is that NONE of this education is currently existent!

The powerful Vegan Hub they are aiming to build in the place where a large leather shop used to operate will provide a multi-fold approach for a consistent, permanent change that will result in millions saved from barbaric, painful death!

It is a brave, but achievable goal, and they are urging all animal lovers, despite their eating style to join and contribute to the cause!

The New Life Cruelty-Free Food And Educational center will pro-actively instill change into the population through the provision of free lectures, seminars, workshops, printed materials, as well as an affordable vegan café and plant-based meal delivery service. This civil, peaceful, education-driven approach will be directed towards young families and mothers, who are the main decision-makers regarding meat consumption and ritual slaughters.

Ashton and Denitsa believe that anyone with even a drop of compassion in their heart would want to contribute to a project such as that.

Their slogan is…

Now who wouldn’t want to? I sure do! To support the cause, click here. Saving Animals in Bulgaria


Vegan Travel Made Easy

vegan travel tips

Vegan travel is not as difficult as you may think!

I’m headed off to Europe for a 3-week vegan travel tour that I will vlog about as I go, showing you exactly how you can have a blast as a vegan on the road!

You can watch the vlog post or read the blog post below to get all my top tips for preparing for vegan travel…

Hey guys, it’s Ella here with Sexy Fit Vegan. Tomorrow I am leaving to go to Europe for 3 weeks so I wanted to do a post about traveling as a vegan. This is my longest trip ever and I’m super excited! I’m going to Berlin, Amsterdam, London, and Switzerland, then down through Italy, and finally leaving from Milan to come back home.

Fitness Routine and the Vegan Traveler

One thing I do is work out super hard 2 weeks in advance of my trips. I do plan on getting lots of exercise on my trip, but I don’t want my trip to be about exercise and making sure I keep my body in the best tip-top shape. I do want to experience  new cultures, new sites, see new things, have fun and enjoy myself and not be stuck to a routine because that’s what home is for.

Planning for Vegan Travel with Social Media

I’m going to lots of different spots and will need to figure out what I’m going to do, where I’m going to stay, and traveling as a vegan, I will need to figure out how to maintain my health vegan diet. The first step is research. Connecting on social media gives you lots of info about fun things to do, where to stay, which neighborhoods to visit, and all that fun stuff.  

Social media makes it so easy these days. I got into Facebook groups that are composed of vegans in Berlin, London, and Amsterdam. I joined these groups to ask questions and everyone was very receptive.  On Instagram I was also able to connect with people with similar interests.  From one post I found on Pinterest  I went to the authors profile to see what her posts were to see if I related to her. I reached out  because she had a lot of cool pictures like doing yoga and exploring vegan-friendly restaurants but she also had a few pictures that were fun, going to local spots and bars, and other things I want to do with the locals

Vegan-Friendly Places to Stay

I’m staying primarily at Airbnb. Why? Because that’s also, to me, a fun adventure and you can have a kitchen! I want my own place, not just my own room, so I have access to a kitchen and have my privacy. I love having a kitchen so that I can have big meals while I’m out and have leftovers always available if I want to just chill at the house for a little bit and recuperate between Adventures.

Also, remember there are always places, no matter where you go in the world, to get vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains so that you can always have something healthy at the house. My philosophy is, as long as you’re stuffing your body full of the most nutrient dense foods possible, especially calorie light dense food, you don’t have to worry about how mulch you’re eating.  When I go on vacation, I work to eat healthy most of the time, but then know that I’m also going to have fun and eat some foods I might not normally eat, and be okay with it.

Packing for Vegan Travel

It’s always helpful to pack some vegan raw food or vegan protein bars or powders for emergency purposes. You don’t want to get to that point where you’re so starving that you get grumpy. If you’re like me, I get grumpy when I’m hungry. Bottom line, you know that you’re not going to starve to death, but it is an uncomfortable feeling.and you need a plan so you don’t just go and pick the very first thing you see just because you’re that hungry. I’m not a huge bar fan (I’m talking nutritional bars here – I am a fan of pub-style bars ;)), but having some nutritional bars with you can tide you over until you get to a place that has more choices that are agreeable with you.

Preparing for the Plane Ride, Vegan Style

It’s important to make sure you are prepared on especially long plane rides in case there isn’t anything available to eat that is plant-based or vegan. You can call ahead for long international flights to see if  they have a vegan option for you. It’s a good idea to bring snacks for the trip just in case. For my trip I’m planning on bring baked tofu that comes in packets. The tofu can sit around for hours without going bad, it’s already flavored and works great for a high-protein,  delicious substantial snack. Crackers or popcorn may be available in the airport, but even if they’re vegan and fun to snack on, they’re not really going  to satisfy you for any length of time. The tofu and hummus with some veggies, if packed in a little cooler, can be a life saver!

There is a catch:  you may have your hummus confiscated! On one of my travels I did have my hummus confiscated. This was quite upsetting, as funny as it sounds, but when you’re in a hurry and you’re getting on a long flight and you think you have a snack and you’re hungry and they take that snack away from you and you have to run and get on the plane anyway knowing you’re going to be really hungry, it’s just very disappointing! Bottom line: pack a few good options.

Planning Activities for the Vegan Traveler

Using Facebook and Instagram connections, I was able to find out about the historical sites that I don’t want to miss while I go to such historic cities. I want to experience the culture and also really get to meet with the locals and not just hit the tourist spots. You can always check traditional travel sites like Yahoo Trip Advisor, but I have found that the best way for me to find a cool spot by just asking around, as opposed to planning everything in advance. I also search for local fitness opportunities. This trip, I am nursing a shoulder injury and will probably stay mostly with yoga studios.

Eating Out, Vegan Style

For me, it’s not necessarily important to go into only vegan exclusive restaurants. What I want to do is stay as mainstream as possible and find restaurants that can offer me vegan choices, even if they’re not vegan restaurants. I find it to be an adventure to communicate with the staff at mainstream restaurants and see what they can do to come up with some options for me.

Of course, I also enjoy going to the vegan friendly spots. I have found lots of vegan bakeries that I plan on flirting a little bit with on my vegan travels. At home I have been off of sugar for quite a while, but when there are vegan donut spots that I’m going to come across as I travel through Europe, I’m going to be tasting some donuts!

I hope these tips help on your next vegan travel trip!

This kale salad is the perfect way to start the weekend off right and will give you the kick start you need to stay focused on your fitness goals… and it’s delicious too!

Weekend Glow Kale Salad

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 large head of kale (about 4-6 cups)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped carrot (2 small carrots)
  • 1 English cucumber (2 cups chopped halves)
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 & 1/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes (or other variety)
  • 1/2 cup mixed raisins and Goji berries
  • 1/4 cup hemp seed
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


  • 1 batch of Lighten Up Tahini Dressing
  • Your desired fresh or dried herbs


1. Chop vegetables and mix in a large mixing bowl. Reserve hemp seed and walnuts for sprinkling on top.

2. Make your Lightened Up tahini-Lemon Dressing in a food processor and process until smooth.

3. Tear the leaves off of the kale and rip into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry kale leaves.

4. Mix the vegetables, kale leaves, and full batch of dressing (3/4-1 cup) in large bowl until thoroughly combined.

5. Place in fridge to ‘marinate’ for 10-15 minutes. Serves 4. Keeps in fridge in a sealed container for 1 day.

  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Prepare the Lemon-Tahini Dressing: Mince the garlic in a mini food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

3 tips for preparing raw kale:

1. Remove the stems when you plan on eating it raw (and some people remove the stems for cooking too-it’s personal preference). The stems are the bitter part of the plant. I used to always use the stems and wonder why my kale salads tasted ridiculously bitter. Now I just use the leaves and it always turns out wonderful to the palate.

2. Massage the dressing into the leaves and let it ‘marinate’ for at least 10-15 minutes. A kale salad tastes best when the dressing has had a chance to soak into the leaves. This also helps soften the leaves which is especially important if you are using the curly variety. You don’t want it scratching your throat!

3. If you really don’t like curly kale, try Dinosaur (Lacinato) kale as it is less



For more amazingly glowing recipes check out https://ohsheglows.com/

photo credit ohsheglows.com

The Holistic Holiday at Sea Experience


I’m back from a week aboard the MSC Divina on the Holistic Holiday at Sea and am bringing home tons of great info and experiences to share!Holistic Holiday At Sea

Let me start by saying that it was one packed week. My good friend Anne came with me on the trip and we both agreed that the experience was a perfect mix of fun and education. One of the hardest part about the trip was deciding which classes and lectures to attend because there were so many to choose from. I couldn’t ask for a better problem to have! 

I could go on and on about the details but photos do a great job at telling the story…

The Ship:


The MSC Divina is a classy ship with great service, and our room was very comfortable. 

The Dining:

For breakfast and lunch, Anne and I went for the vegan buffet because there were so many activities we were trying to squeeze in during the daytime. We went for the sit-down dinners though, which included a 5 course meal every night! It was refreshing not to have to question the servers about how the food was made. For once, being vegan was the norm not the exception. So cool!!! Dinner was also the time we met the most interesting people from all over the country, everyone with a unique story about how they came to be on the cruise. I definitely recommend attending the dinners every night, and sitting with new people each meal.

The Excursions:


Book your excursions early! We made the mistake of waiting until the last minute and many of the excursions were booked, especially the ones that came with a vegan lunch included. This year we went to Saint Thomas, Nassau, Bahamas, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. We have a good friend who lives in San Juan so were lucky enough to have a personal, local tour guide on that stop. 

The Classes/Lectures:


There were inspirational classes and lectures of different topics offered over the course of the week by some of the world’s leading experts on nutrition, cooking, and fitness. It was hard to pick which ones to attend because I was interested in so many! I even tried a qi gong class one day, which is something I’ve always been curious about. I was thrilled that one of my all-time favorite speakers, Dr. Greger, was there, and after his last talk, I ran up to the stage to say hello and give him a copy of my book. He was so thankful and we agreed we needed to team up because, as he put it, “The paleo people are killing me!”  

The Amenities:

Holistic-Holiday-At-Sea-Gym-SpaI managed to make it to the gym early most mornings. The gym is at the very front of the ship and give you a gorgeous view of the sunrise over the water. Yoga and other classes were also offered every day at 7am as well as throughout the day as well. The ship also has a nice spa where Anne and I got an amazing massages after loosening up in the steam room and relaxing for a bit. 

The Book Signings:


There were book signings every evening. I felt so honored to be there among such inspirational authors.

A big thank you to Sandy Pukel, the dedicated founder of the Holistic Holiday at Sea for inviting me on the cruise. I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of such a special week.

Stay tuned for more info on next year’s cruise including early bird specials!!!



Top 8 Vegan Events 2016


Mark your calendars and grab some tickets because 2016 is packed full of vegan events worth checking out!

I’m giving you my top 8 picks for vegan festivals and events, some based on my own experiences, others based on speaking with like-minded experts such as Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness founder Robert Cheeke. I ran into Robert at Brendan Brazier’s book launch party last month and was able to ask about his favorites since he pretty much travels year round attending and speaking at these events!

Holistic Holiday at Sea

February 27-March 5, 2016Holistic-Holiday-at-Sea-Photos

I’m super psyched about this year’s cruise because I was lucky enough to have been invited as a special guest. Robert Cheeke told me that out of all the events he attends this is his absolute favorite (this will be his sixth year in a row on board)! I’m especially excited because some of my favorite nutrition experts (like Dr. Michael Greger), plant-based chefs, and fitness pros will be on board presenting and teaching. I’ve found that most health or wellness-focused cruises offer yoga but not strength and conditioning type classes. Not true for this cruise! There is a class for everybody and every mood, so in addition to yoga and pilates there are also boot camp and body building type of classes from some of the top names in the fitness world. And the other part about this cruise that makes it different than other health cruises is that it not only gives you the opportunity to detox and relax, but also is upbeat with a wide variety of things to do from cooking classes to snorkeling to cocktail parties… how appealing does that sound?! Then there are the awesome plant-based meals, catering not just to people eating vegan, but also those who eat gluten-free or oil-free. I just find this incredible, and I want to experience it with you all! 

Here is a description of the experience:

Holistic Holiday at Sea presents the ultimate gift for your mind, body and spirit. Share the experience and wisdom of some of the world’s leading authorities and experts in holistic living and natural health. Cruise the Eastern Caribbean on one of the world’s premier Italian luxury liners, the MSC Divina, which combines the style and sophistication of Europe with American comforts and convenience. Visit exciting ports of call as we sail from Miami, Florida to natural paradise Charlotte Amalie/St. Thomas, USVI; historic and vibrant San Juan, Puerto Rico; and sun-soaked Nassau, Bahamas. All this and more while you dine on specially prepared vegan natural foods and beverages prepared by our own chefs. Lectures and workshops included.”

When they say, “health experts,” it’s the real deal… the line-up includes Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org (one of my all time favorite speakers), Dr. T. Colin Campbell, co-author of The China Study” and featured in Forks Over Knives, Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Michael Klaper, long-time radio host and acclaimed health educator, Chef AJ, inspiring speaker and author of Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight… and this is just to name a few. You MUST see the line-up. It’s crazy! And 95% of ALL the classes, workshops, presentations, and lectures are included in the price of the cruise, including the big names guests. Plus, these presenters are not all quarantined off in their own VIP areas, they eat and hang with everyone on board.

I’m honored that the bookstore will also be carrying my new book, The Six Weeks To Sexy Abs Meal Plan! I will be doing a book signing as well.

As I mentioned above, there are also daily yoga, pilates, fitness, running, meditation, and body building classes. Food options for everyone, including vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free. There will be vegan pizza and ice cream parties and other social events and parties. We’ll have opportunities to swim, snorkel and kayak in the beautiful Carribbean waters.  On top of all that, this is all on an award-winning environmentally friendly ship!

I hope to see a bunch of you guys on the ship, but if you’re not able to make it this year, go ahead and put it on your calendar for next year – tickets are available now for early bird special prices.

Learn more about the 2016 Holistic Holiday at Sea Cruise HERE.

Seed Food and Wine Festival

November 2-5, 2016

seed food and wine festival

I absolutely adore this festival! Only in it’s third year of existence, the Seed Food and Wine Festival is a huge hit and growing rapidly. One of the things I like most about this festival is it’s focus on marketing to the main stream. Nothing makes me happier than seeing non-vegans be open-minded to learning the all the “whys” and “hows” to go vegan, and the events of this festival attract those people (along with already established vegans). 

Details for Seed Food and Wine 2016 have not yet been made public, but I’m sure it will not just match, but also exceed the quality of last year’s. 

Seed Food and Wine is described as “a weekend adventure for guests who want to sip, savor and experience conscious, sustainable plant-based living. All activities are carefully crafted to take guests through a one-of-a-kind journey from cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, celebrity chef dinners, craft beer and spirits tastings, celebrity cook-offs, fitness to body care, workshops, yoga, urban gardening, a 5k run, kids day and more. SFWFs line-up features something for everyone and showcases the beauty of the tropical paradise that is Miami and her beaches. Everything served during the festival will be plant-based (vegan) and whenever possible organic and non-gmo certified.”
To get an idea of the kind of events there will be, read about some of the 2015 events (just to mention a few):


Walk the green carpet, and chow down on plant-based burgers created by chefs from across the country, cast your vote for BEST VEGGIE BURGER IN AMERICA, enjoy paired craft brews by Brown’s Distributing curated by Box Elder Wynwood, Reeds Root Beer Floats, live music with the MAGIC CITY HIPPIES and great company. Celebrity judges include: Burger Beast, John Salley, Nic Adler, Nom Yourself and Chef Derek Sarno (Whole Foods Market·Austin).


Bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators to create a NEW conscious and sustainable food system.
This all day conference is designed for food and sustainability industry entrepreneurs, farmers, chefs, government and education leaders and those passionate about our future. There will be six workshops covering a variety of subjects including: Food Waste, Regenerative Agriculture, GMOs and Organics, Made In Miami Entrepreneurs feeding our community, Sustainability and Sea Level Rise, Feeding Good Food to Everyone.


The ultimate evening for plant-friendly foodies, start with cocktails & hors d’oeuvres, followed by a 5 course wine paired dinner presented by some of the best plant inspired chefs in the country, Chef Scott Winegard for Matthew Kenney Cuisine, Chef Aaron Adams from Farm Spirit in Portland and Chef Jonathan Seningen from Dirt Miami.



Start the day with a 5K run through the art filled streets of Wynwood. Lead by ultra-endurance athlete, RICH ROLL, Miami’s very own, “WE RUN MIAMI”/ FRANKIE RUIZ, ELLA MAGERS the Sexy Fit Vegan and JOHN LEWIS the Bad Ass Vegan.

Then you will hit the mat for a yoga class with MEGHAN ELIZABETHfrom LoveLife Wellness Center, AMY DANNHEIM from Green Monkey Yoga and CORBIN STACY from Namastacy Yoga. Then take a breather with JENNIFER GRACE leading a guided meditation.

Pleasure awaits after all that hard work, as you enter the festival first before the public. Enjoy the ultimate day of plant-based health, wellness conscious and sustainable living with a beer garden, live music, chef demonstrations, speakers stage, yoga lounge, fitness zone, crafts, apparel, edible garden demonstrations, organic cruelty free beauty bar and over 100 restaurants, bakeries, brands, wines, spirits and juices sampling delicious plant based treats all day.


Enjoy free sampling all day at the ultimate day of plant-based health, wellness conscious and sustainable living with a beer garden, live music, Chef Demonstrations, Miami Book Fair Speaker Stage, yoga lounge, fitness zone, crafts, apparel, edible garden demonstrations, organic cruelty free beauty bar and over 80 restaurants, bakeries, brands, wines, spirits and juices sampling delicious plant based treats all day. Young Veg Advocate Award will be presented at 3pm on the main stage.


A fun afternoon for the entire family: Kids take part in an interactive learning experiences, from planting their own container gardens at the hands-on JugoFresh gardening lab, trying their hand at yoga with Magda Lopez and making their very own veggie pizzas with Chef Charlie Chen, and hitting up the Bunnie Cake’s cupcake lab to decorate and munch on organic, vegan, gluten-free cupcakes. We didn’t forget moms and dads, this year we will have a lounge with mocktails and yummy bites just for you. (programming designed for children ages 3 to 10).

Tickets to some of the events sell out quickly (the dinners especially) so stay tuned and as soon as they’re announced, jump on those tickets! The festival as a whole is on the pricey side compared to many other vegfests, but once you go you’ll understand why. The Seed Food and Wine Festival takes vegan to the next level!

Toronto Veg Food Fest

September 9-11
I haven’t attended this one, but Robert listed it among his top picks and it has received great reviews! 
Here’s how the Toronto Vegetarian Association describe the festival:

Regarded as the largest event of its kind in North America, the Veg Food Fest provides an unparalleled opportunity to sample the very best of vegetarian cuisine. Each year, visitors discover delicious new products and innovative ideas from more than 100 exhibitors and enjoy informative presentations and exciting cooking demonstrations.

Over the years the Vegetarian Food Festival has featured the brightest minds of the vegetarian movement including nutrition researchers Dr. T Colin Campbell (The China Study) and Brenda Davis, RD (Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan) as well as animal advocates Gene Baur (Farm Sanctuary) and Melanie Joy (Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs & Wear Cows). We’ve showcased dozens of amazing cookbooks through cooking demonstrations by Terry Hope Romero & Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, and many more), Taymer Mason (Caribbean Vegan), Sarah Kramer (How It All Vegan), and Toronto’s jae steele (Ripe From Around Here) and Doug McNish (Eat Raw, Eat Well). We’ve also highlighted important documentary films such as Forks Over Knives,Peaceable Kingdom, and Vegucated.

Featuring plethora of delicious foods, and a friendly, supportive atmosphere, the Veg Food Fest fits perfectly with the mission of the Toronto Vegetarian Association: to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more peaceful lifestyle.

For details about our most recent Veg Food Fest, please visit vegfoodfest.com

Here are links to a few more popular vegan festivals around the country (click on the pictures)…

Vegan Beer and Food Festival

June 11, 2016 in Portland and June 18, 2016 in Los Angeles

vegan beer and food fest LA 2016vegan beer and food fest Portland 2016

Texas VegFest

April 2, 20116


Chicago Vegan Mania

October 1, 2016
chicago vegan mania

Tampa Bay Veg Fest

November 12th, 2016
tampa bay veg fest
If you’ve been to other annual events/festivals please share with us!

Vegan Breakfast on the Road: How to Get Creative!


Ever try to get a healthy, filling, vegan breakfast on the road?

It’s not often that you spot a “Lily’s Organic Diner” or “Wildflower Kitchen”  on the exit food signs.  You are more likely you see Aunt Sarah’s Pancakes or Denny’s where a standard breakfast is steak and eggs, and a side of fruit bathed in syrup. Far from a healthy vegan breakfast!

On my last road trip my carnivore friends picked Waffle House.  As we pulled up to the restaurant, I wondered if there would anything for me to eat given that I’m on a vegan diet plan.  I wasn’t surprised that there was no scrambled tofu on the menu. There was hash brown potatoes though.  That’s a start!Hashbrown Vegan Breakfast on the Road

After making sure the potatoes were cooked in vegetable oil, I asked if the hash browns could be the start of some sort of potato-based omelet, adding the standard omelet fillings… peppers, onions, mushrooms.  The waitress got into it.  Then the cook got into it!

When my plate arrived it was a good-looking, tasty, filling, vegan (so far as I could tell) dish…  a double order of hash browns folded over the veggie center.  Yes, a bit greasy, but it was Waffle House.

I find that sometimes when you challenge restaurant staff with your “special needs”, they rise to the occasion and your dining partners say, “That looks better than anything on the menu!” 

Have you had a similar experience getting creative for vegan breakfast on the road? I’d love to hear!

– Steve


New Go-To Vegan Restaurant in South Beach is a Hit!


Meet Sheryn Abalos, celebrity vegan chef and owner of Plant Theory Botanical Cafe, a fresh new vegan restaurant in South Beach with much to offer!

Plant Theory Miami Vegan Restaurant Owner Sheryn Abalos

Vegan Restaurant in South Beach-Plant Theory Botanical Cafe
I caught up with the busy vegan chef (who has an infectious smile and contagious positive energy by the way) to find out more about her vision and the secret behind creating such a unique neighborhood vegan restaurant.

Ella: What is your vegan-background? When did you go vegan, why, and how has it shaped your life?

Sheryn: My family was having shake and bake chicken for dinner, and when I took a  bite of the drumstick and saw the little bones and purple veins I realized it was once a living bird. Then, the next day we had a whole baked fish with the head and everything looking back at me. I read what they did to cows and couldn’t justify eating them. As far as dairy is concerned, once I cut it out of my diet I began breathing better and all my skin issues went away. Concerning eggs, I couldn’t eat them after I found out they were unfertilized eggs. All of those factors combined pretty much made me vegan, and while people think it’s harder but for me, it actually cuts out a lot of the crap and makes life easier!

Ella: What made you think Plant Theory Botanical Cafe would be a successful concept in this location at this time?

SherynI think the standard American diet is in dire straits and finally people are making the connection that it does matter what you eat and where it’s from. The majority of fatal diseases are diet related. What better place than South beach to open a restaurant where people can enjoy healthy food that will help them look and feel their best for years and years to come?!

Ella: In what ways is your spot different than other vegan and/or healthy restaurants opening in the area?

SherynNumber one we are truly vegan without any compromises such as honey, animal by products etc… We also use organic produce and supplies, and use eco-sustainable products. Our market focus on small artisan crafters you cannot find easily in Miami. Additionally, we are 98% raw with one hot soup and globally inspired special a day. We are a community space and love sharing our space for holistic events and community gatherings.

Ella: What are your top 3 recommendations from the menu for someone to try first?

SherynWow only 3! That’s hard!
1. Raw Lasagna
2. Grilled Artichoke and Raisin Wrap
3. Raw Save the Salmon Burger
4.  Raw Picadillo Salad

Ella: What advice do you have for people who are new to the idea of veganism and are interested in moving in that direction?

Sheryn: Just try substituting one regular meal with a plant based one at least once a day then increase it as you feel better. Educate yourself… There are so many free resources and community events out there for support and great recipes.

Ella: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Sheryn: Connecting with our food allows us to pause and realize what and even how you we eating. Eating should be true nourishment for the mind body and spirit. Stop by and experience Plant Theory, it’s a great community space for everyone!


Menu Item from Plant Theory Botanical Cafe Miami Beach

Vegan menu item from Plant Theory-Vegan Restaurant in Miami Beach


Acai Bowl from Plant Theory-Vegan Restaurant in Miami Beach

Dessert from Plant Theory Botanical Cafe Miami BeachAlso check out Plant Theory on the web:





Vegan Traveler: New Orleans

Ella Magers, vegan traveler at UFC New Orleans

I took a birthday trip to New Orleans last weekend to see UFC Fight Night (my birthday gift from my boyfriend) and wow, as a pro at traveling on a vegan diet plan, this city is what I would call, “a great challenge!”

First off, I’m relatively easy to accommodate in that I’m happy with simple meals containing popular ingredients. I don’t need my vegan diet plan to be fancy. Give me a salad with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and some chickpeas and I’m a happy camper. I generally travel and go to restaurants, bars, and other hot spots more for the atmosphere than the food options anyway, but that’s just my personality. In New Orleans, there is no shortage of awesome venues to hear great live music, meet interesting people, have drinks, people-watch, and learn about the city’s history. But when it comes to eating, unless you like jambalaya, gumbo, po-boys, or deep fried food, you have a challenge on your hands. 

Here are some recommendations for places I enjoyed:

  • For a local sports bar vibe with great craft beer: The Bulldog
    • The hummus is home-made, FANTASTIC., and you can get it with raw veggie sticks!
    • Great selection of craft beer (The Unibroue Trois Pistoles is a strong, vegan-friendly Belgium beer that’s not served at many bars… loved it!).
    • vegan beer
  • For a local bar with a good beer selection and live jazz: d.b.a.
    • They do not serve food, but let you bring in food from elsewhere and chow there. 
    • The bartenders are experienced and super friendly.
    • d.b.a.-new-orleans
  • For a 100% vegan restaurant: Seed
    • Awesome high-quality menu with tons of variety, but all “nola style” so you still get a taste of traditional food.
    • Perfect brunch spot (pictured are the bloody marys, grits with seitan and mushroom gravy, chocolate chip pancakes, tofu scramble, and fresh squeezed orange juice).
    • An amazing, creative cocktail menu.
    • Modern, cool design.
    • Location is not great (only down side).
    • vegan-bloody-maryvegan-grits,-mushroom-gravy,-homemade-seitanvegan brunchvegan bloody mary
  • For a fun tourist bar with live music: Famous Door
    • Great cover-bands almost always on stage
    • Cheap drink prices
    • Perfect for letting loose and laughing at/with drunk tourists.
    • famous-door-new-orleans
  • To learn about history: WWII Museum 
    • ww2-museum

Then, of course, the UFC Fight night, the real reason we went, was at the Smoothie King Center, and we were incredibly lucky with the card. Almost every fight ended in a knock-out or submission! We were in the third row for these exciting fights, and through a friend, I was able to say what’s up to Bruce Buffer who is not only a talented entertainer, but also a super nice guy! I was happy the veteran Dan Henderson came away with a well-earned victory 🙂

Ella-&-bruce-buffer dan-henderson-ufc-winner ella-rob-ufc-fights

All in all, a fantastic experience. Thanks Rob for making it happen.

I’d love to hear comments about other tips and hot spots so please comment!



Vegan Restaurant Review: Cafe Gratitude

Ella Magers at Cafe Gratitude Vegan Restaurant Sign

On a recent trip to Santa Monica, I met a friend at Cafe Gratitude, a trendy vegan restaurant with rave reviews.

I wanted to check it out to see if all the talk was just hype or if this place was truly special. I’m here to tell you Cafe Gratitude exceeded my expectations. I was so hungry when I arrived I was slightly overwhelmed with all the options… they all looked so good! Check it out…

cafe gratitude-menuWe ended up getting a phenomenal asparagus and arugula appetizer special and the “Abundant” antipasto plate. The antipasto plate didn’t really do it for me, but when the main course came, any doubts I had about the restaurant as a whole disappeared. The “Whole” Macrobiotic Bowl was extraordinary. My friend also raved about the “Humble” which had become his go-to dish. In addition to the awesome food, I had an excellent experience from a service standpoint, and the atmosphere was thick with positive energy and a chill vibe. 

Conclusion: Vegan or not, Cafe Gratitude is a restaurant destination in west Los Angeles not to be missed!

Ella at Cafe Gratitude