Food Choices & Awareness in the GTA

Vegetable based dish

Did you know that two in three GTA residents want to reduce their meat consumption and that over 85% say they are aware of the impacts of animal products on the environment?
This webinar is presented by VegTO in collaboration with Animal Justice, Plant-Based Canada, the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank, Educators for Animals & Reimagine Agriculture.

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Mike Farley has been teaching middle and high school Geography and Environmental Studies for over 20 years in Toronto. He also teaches the Animal Protection course for Antioch University through the Institute for Humane Education, and is a Sessional Lecturer for the University of Toronto’s Master of Teaching program. Mike founded and continues to organize the annual Educators for Animals Conference that brings together hundreds of educators from around the world who are incorporating animal protection into their school communities. Mike is a frequent presenter at education conferences in Canada and the U.S. on topics such as human rights, environmental issues, and animal protection. 

A photo of Mike Farley and his dog

Dr. Zahra Kassam is a radiation oncologist, certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician, and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Zahra co-founded Plant-Based Canada ( to promote plant-based whole food nutrition that is sustainable, healthy, and promotes the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. Her first book, Eating Plant-Based, Scientific Answers to Your Nutrition Questions is co-authored with her sister Shireen. Zahra is co-editor of an academic textbook Plant-Based Nutrition in Clinical Practice, with Shireen and Lisa Simon.

Image of Zahra Kassam

Camille Labchuk is an animal rights lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice—Canada’s only animal law advocacy organization. Under her leadership, Animal Justice fights legal cases in courtrooms across the country, works to pass groundbreaking new laws, and ensures industries are held accountable for illegal animal cruelty. Camille has litigated to advance animals’ legal interests at all levels of court, including before the Supreme Court of Canada. She regularly testifies before legislative committees, and was instrumental in passing Canada’s precedent-setting national ban on whale and dolphin captivity. She has brought constitutional cases seeking to protect the interests of animals and animal advocates; filed false advertising complaints against companies making misleading humane claims; documented Canada’s commercial seal slaughter; and exposed hidden suffering behind the closed doors of farms and zoos through undercover exposés.

An image of Camille Labchuk

Matt Noble is the founder and executive director of Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank, which has served over 340,000 meals worth of whole-food plant-based groceries to people struggling with poverty and food insecurity. Matt studied Journalism and is a researcher in the areas of poverty alleviation, food insecurity, housing, economics, public policy, agriculture and is an avid gardener. In 2022, Veg Food Bank started a farm, at Wishing Well Sanctuary, to be able to provide local veganic produce to their clients. Beginning in the Fall of 2022, Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank will be providing free plant-based cooking classes and groceries to plant food-curious community members from other food banks in the city. 

An image of Matt Noble

Allison Penner is the Executive Director of Reimagine Agriculture and through this work, is collaborating with law schools, providing key education and enabling policy dialogue. With a BA in Environmental Governance from the University of Guelph and a background in international development and policy, she is keen to create a sustainable, compassionate and resilient food system by working with those with many different values and interests.

An Image of Allison Penner

Kimberly D'Oliveira is the Executive Director of VegTO, a cause she truly supports. Kimberly has been a committed vegan since January 2015.  She continues to deepen her understanding and learnings around intersectionality to better support and amplify others and strengthen the movement. Kimberly has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Bradford, UK, specializing in the Circular Economy. Nothing lights her up more than preparing and sharing a delicious vegan meal with friends and family.

Kimberly D'Oliveira, Executive Director, smile brightly at the camera.

Nital Jethalal is President of the Board of Directors at VegTO and excited to be hosting this webinar.  He is a plant-based economist and analyst with Plant-Based Data, where he researches the impacts of population shifts towards plant-based foods and oversees a database of peer-reviewed papers on a range of topics, such as agricultural subsidies, behavioural trends, labour transition and survey data.  Nital is passionate about moving food systems plant-based and, ultimately, cheaper fruits and vegetables for all.  He has a M.Sc in International Economics and also sits on the board of directors for the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank.

An Image of Nital Jethalal

Karel Vredenburg is Vice President of the Board of Directors at VegTO. He is also Global Vice President of Client Insights and Research at IBM and responsible for leading the company’s worldwide team of researchers and the insights they provide to product, services, and executive teams. He is an Industry Professor at McMaster University and co-founded the Future of Design Education initiative which is developing design curricula for academic institutions worldwide that will equip designers to design more inclusive, sustainable, equitable, and ethical future products, systems, organizations, and societies. He blogs on design, technology, and optimizing the human experience at, shares his veganism on Instagram as karel.veganburg, and hosts the podcast "Life Habits Mentoring". He did undergraduate, masters, and doctoral studies at the University of Toronto initially in cognitive science and clinical psychology which later led to study, research, specialization, and his life-long passion for, practice of, and leadership in design and research. Karel is based in Toronto, Canada. 

Image of Karel Vrendenberg

Mark Simmons is an animal lover, a proud vegan and a dedicated climate activist.  Most of his career has been spent in the public and not-for-profit sectors, with a focus on health and wellness. He has worked for over 10 years in the Ontario Ministry of Health, where he has guided the planning, development and delivery of high-profile provincial strategies, policies and programs.  Mark is a member of several environmental organizations, fighting for meaningful climate action at the national, provincial and local levels. He also serves as a Board member for the Toronto Vegetarian Association. 

Image of Mark Simmons

How we're using this data 

We are working with other organisations and C40 cities to call on city councillors to adopt more plant-based options in public spaces.

Our Proposal to Mike Layton