What we do

Lots of people dotted across a grassy space, dotted with white tents for Veg Fest.

VegTO is Toronto’s go-to resource for all things vegan. Our mission is to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more compassionate lifestyle.

We envision a world where people think critically about their food choices, where growing numbers of businesses, community groups, and organizations inspire people to make healthier, greener, more compassionate choices, and where nutritious, sustainable, plant-based foods are accessible to all.

We pride ourselves on providing expert information, celebrating Toronto’s diversity, embracing our grassroots, volunteer-driven history, and being fiscally and socially responsible, and environmentally conscious.

our programs

Person holding a vegan burger and fries

Veg Food Fest

North America’s largest vegan festival! This free event is held at the Harbourfront Centre each September, with more than 150 plant-based vendors, dozens of hours of programming and lectures, and more.

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VegTO food event

The Veg News Blog

Get the latest dairy-free scoop on vegan news, VegTO op-eds, local veg restaurants and event announcements.

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People walking around at a VegTO community event.

Local Events

Browse and submit vegan inspired events to our shared community listings and get the vegheads of Toronto together! VegTO hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including our Holiday and Spring Markets.

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Close up of a  bowl of vegetable soup

Veg Guide

Your guide to the GTA’s veg and veg-friendly restaurants, stores, and more.

Available on our website, and through our mobile app.

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our history

VegTO associate group photo
For over 75 years the Toronto Vegetarian Association has worked to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more compassionate lifestyle.
The Founders Era
1945 - 1980
Black and white photo of Toronto Vegetarian Association members in 1945

The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) was founded on June 19, 1945, at a gathering of 18 people in Toronto. One of the first campaigns involved sending soy grits and vegetable oil to war-torn Europe.

Other early activities included holding dinners and lectures, writing to restaurant owners to request meatless dishes, and having letters and notices published in Toronto’s daily newspapers.

By July 1946, there were more than 100 members. By the 1950s, the organization published its first newsletter. The association became incorporated in November 1955.

The Second wave
1980 - 2000

It was also in the mid-1980s that VegTO launched its flagship event, the annual Veg Food Fest, which has since grown to become the largest event of its kind in North America. It was also in this decade that VegTO launched its first public Resource Centre and its Vegetarian Directory.

A 1980s advert for The Vegetarian Food Fair - blue handwritten text on white papar.

In the 1980s, a small group of younger people took over the leadership of the VegTO, instituting better record-keeping and board-meeting procedures. At the time, there were about 400 members. During these years VegTO focused on outreach through lectures, tabling, and fact sheets.

The Second wave
1980 - 2000

In the 1990s, VegTO published several cookbooks and handbooks and launched its first resource website.The 10th Annual Vegetarian Food Fair in 1994 attracted more than 10,000 people.

VegTO’s profile in the international vegetarian movement got a big boost when it hosted the 37th World Vegetarian Congress in July 2000, after a two-year planning effort. By the end of the decade, there were more than 1000 members.

A black and white photo of Veg Fest from the 1990s - A striped tent fills the frame and festival goers mill about.
RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS
2000-present
A brown chicken, with bright red combs and wattles, enjoys her time on a local farm sanctuary.

In 2005, the VegTO board hired its first executive director to handle day-to-day management, allowing the board to focus on governance and strategy. One of the board’s first major tasks during the transition phase was to review the organization’s mission statement.

To better reflect its audience, the scope of activities and the values the organization wished to communicate, the following was adopted: “To inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more peaceful lifestyle.”

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS
2000-present

By this time, VegTO’s one-week Veggie Challenge program moved online. Since its launch, thousands of people have signed up to try a plant-based diet for one week with the support of daily emails crafted by the Veggie Challenge team.

Sarah Fey from VegTO holds up a sign for the 7 day veggie challenge.

Survey results show that participation has led many to reduce or eliminate animal products from their diet in favour of healthier, greener, cruelty-free veg alternatives.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS
2000-present

In late 2007, the VegTO embarked on an ambitious, detailed three-year strategic plan, with each of the years focusing on a specific area — the environment in 2008, health in 2009, and compassion for animals in 2010.

VegTO board members work together around a table.

Over the course of that cycle, VegTO hosted a Beyond Earth Hour event, a series of expert-led healthy eating workshops, and a one-of-a-kind Compassion Week event.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS
2000-present
A long line of people waits for something delicious at Veg Fest at the Harbourfront Centre.

In 2008 VegTO volunteers launched the first-ever Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-off, which has grown to attract dozens of bakers each year and hundreds of tasters.In 2010, VegTO partnered with Earthsave Canada to initiate a Canadian Meatless Mondays campaign.In 2011, Veggielicious was launched with more than 20 participating restaurants and two major televised news segments.

Also in 2011, VegTO partnered with 10,000 Tastes, 10 Billion Reasons for Canada’s largest-ever veggie dog giveaway at Yonge-Dundas Square, and partnered with BeVeg Canada on its “Why love one but eat the other” TTC ad campaign.Today, the Veg Food Fest continues to be the largest event of its kind in North America, with more than 40,000 visitors over three years each September at Harbourfront Centre.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS
2000-present

VegTO has come a long way since 1945 and we are proud of all that we’ve achieved so far. Together, we will continue the work done by passionate VegTO volunteers over the past 70-plus years as we envision a world where people think critically about their food choices, where market forces drive food producers to provide healthy, sustainable plant-based foods, and where all animals are treated with compassion and kindness.

A women pets a horse outside of a white house with green trim.
looking forward
today
A group of volunteers wearing VegTO and Veg Fest t=shirts stand behind a table at Veg Fest.

Looking toward the future, we see the growth of veganism and are so proud of the legacy we have supported. We want to continue to be a part of this movement for decades to come and to achieve this goal, we must continue to reach new audiences.We need to grow with our community.

For this reason, in 2019, the Board of Directors formed a Name Change Committee to embark upon updating our operating name. After several years of consideration, collaboration, and stakeholder engagement, we are thrilled to continue our work as VegTO! Our legal name will continue to be the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

The Veg Climate Network (VCN) is a collaboration of not-for-profit plant-based and environmental organizations working together to save the planet, one plate at a time.

Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), as well as deforestation, loss of biodiversity, land degradation, desertification, water consumption, and pollution. More than a third of all human-caused GHGs are linked to the way we produce, process and package food. And animal-based food contributes twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as plant-based food. That’s why adopting a more plant-based diet can have a real impact on our efforts to mitigate climate change and restore the planet. In fact, eating just one soy-based plant burger instead of a beef burger saves almost 400 gallons of water and reduces the associated GHG emissions by over 90%!

And the benefits don’t stop there. Eating a more plant-based diet also offers health benefits, including improved heart and kidney health, reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and helping to maintain a healthy weight.

That is why VCN members are working with partners locally (in the Greater Toronto Area), nationally, and globally to increase the consumption of plant-based foods in public spaces.

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veg climate network

affilliated organizations

VegTO is a part of a thriving pro-vegan ecosystem of not-for-profits dedicated to creating lasting change through principles of innovation, compassion, community and activism. Together, we are a growing movement - advocating for human health, environmental justice and animal rights. At the heart of this movement is a commitment to vegan living. VegTO is a community-focused organization that includes the ecosystem itself. We believe we are stronger together and encourage you to connect with and support the organizations in our network. Click the links below to learn more about these game changers and their incredibly important work!