Susan Larson believes her conversion to vegetarianism was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“It has made a paradigm shift in my life,” she said. “It’s been 12 years and I’ve never looked back. I’m 65 and honestly, I feel better than I did at 40.”
To share her experiences and provide support to people who have made, or are thinking about making, the switch from meat to veggies, Larson recently formed the East End Veg Group, part of the Toronto Vegetarian Association. The group meets at local restaurants for dinner on the first Wednesday of every month. All the venues offer extensive vegetarian menus. The next meeting is Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. at Castro’s Lounge, an entirely-vegetarian eatery.
“We’re looking for a wide range of vegetarian options,” said Larson.
Larson, a vegan who doesn’t eat dairy, eggs or meat and does not wear any leather or fur, created the group to offer a social network to new vegetarians.
“It’s really hard for a new vegan if you don’t have friends who are as well,” she said. “When you order vegetarian, people almost feel threatened, or awkward. It can be very difficult for people transitioning to a plant-based diet when they don’t have any support.”
Larson, who over the years has rescued cats and dogs (she currently has one of each), gave up meat after making the connection between her pets and other animals and she feels many in the Beach are like-minded.
“I am an animal lover and it fits with my soul better,” she said.
Anyone who is interested in joining Larson for dinner can email her at email@example.com at least two days before the meeting. And the Toronto Vegetarian Association will hold its annual food festival, the largest in North America, at Harbourfront Centre from Sept. 7 to 9. For more information visit www.veg.ca