By Lauren-Elizabeth McGrath, Ecorazzi.com
A common complaint launched against vegans by non-vegans is that as a movement, we aren’t doing enough to address the needs of vegans who are living in poverty. The Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank (note that they distribute vegan food, but wish to help vegetarians living in poverty as well, and have named it under this umbrella term) seeks to remedy that problem by helping to feed those who are living under the Canadian poverty line, but want to maintain and animal-free diet. The food bank opened in January of 2015, and over the last year, has seen incredible growth in both those who seek it out as a food source, and those who wish to volunteer. As I’ve always said, for every non-vegan accusing the entire vegan movement of classism is an entire network of vegans seeking to make food accessible for all. I was lucky enough to chat with Matt Noble who started the bank, and has put advocacy at the front of his activism.
“The decision to start Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank came to me over time, but pretty naturally,” Noble told me, and informed me that those seeking to keep animals out of their diets “have a really hard time at Toronto food banks – because of the lack of veg-friendly foods – I was moved to try and help ‘even the playing field’ for them. Food banks are in place because people are down on their luck. I didn’t want people who are already in such a vulnerable position to have to compromise their health and their ethics as well. Knowing that I could also use the food bank as a vehicle for education around compassionate, healthy and environmentally-responsible food choices, it seemed like all the pieces fit.”