The Toronto Vegetarian Association is governed by a volunteer board of directors elected by its membership. For information about our Board of Directors or to find out how you can get involved, please contact our board President, Diane Burgin.


Tom Appleyard
Ariane Bobiash Secretary
Diane Burgin  President & Treasurer
Kevin Downing  Vice President

Deb Ellis

Fraser Gibson  Past President
Peter McQueen

Tiffany O’Hearn Davies
Siddharth Seth
Annette Wiegand

Thomas Appleyard

Thomas Appleyard knows the important role that the Toronto Vegetarian Association can play in supporting people moving towards healthier, greener and more compassionate living. Over 25 years ago, Thomas became vegetarian. He remembers well that the TVA’s newsletters brought into sharp focus the personal changes he wanted to make, and how to make them well. Since then, TVA programs – especially the Toronto Veg Food Fest – continue to reinvigorate Thomas in his dedication to the movement.

Now vegan for three years, Thomas is ready to give back to the TVA.

Thomas can draw from a wealth of experience as a board member with the TVA. He has served on several non-profit boards as Director, Vice-President and President – including Neighbourhood Legal Services (a poverty law clinic in London), Old East Village Business Improvement Area, Camp Couchiching, and Distress Centres of Toronto. Thomas has a Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from the
Schulich School of Business at York University.

While well versed in a wide range of board members’ responsibilities, Thomas’ particular areas of expertise are governance and risk management. Thomas is a professional emergency manager, bringing risk management skills to his work every day. He currently works as Manager of Emergency Response and Recovery with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, where he leads the Ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre’s activities. Prior to working with the ministry, as Principal Consultant with Preparedness, Thomas worked with over 40 non-profit organizations, associations and networks to build their emergency response capacity.

Thomas loves to read (especially vegan philosophy and ethics lately), cook and bake vegan food, juggle, camp, cycle, scuba dive and play the autoharp. He lives in Toronto with his wife Susan, and their rescued dog Sally.


Ariane Bobiash

Hello! My name is Ariane and I am a long-time vegetarian and have been vegan for over 5 years. Since moving to Toronto in August 2014, I have been a member of the TVA and have volunteered at many of the organization’s fabulous events. What has resonated most with me about the TVA is its ‘embracing vegetarian choices’ philosophy, which I believe is an effective, inclusive way to draw people to the message.

I have considerable experience leading and growing vegetarian groups, including co-creating and growing an online resource space for vegetarians while working on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. Under my leadership, the group grew to over 300 members within 1.5 years.

I completed my Masters in Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in May 2016, and currently work in Client Relationships at a Canadian technology company in the Corporate Social Responsibility space. In addition to this, I have a varied background with international experience in non-profits and government. I can also communicate in French and Spanish.

I would like to help the TVA expand its membership and programming in the GTA and beyond. In the Strategic Plan, an increase in activities such as cooking classes for those new to vegetarianism were identified as most valuable to current non-vegetarians. I would like to expand this type of programming in the GTA, and would also like to forge stronger partnerships with university veg groups.


Diane Burgin

President, Treasurer

Diane Burgin has been a volunteer and member of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) for over 10 years. She is a long-time vegan and advocate for organic food. She is also committed to many animal and environmental causes. Diane is passionate about eating healthy foods for optimal health.

Diane has an undergraduate university degree in Accounting and accreditation as a Certified Management Accountant. She has held various accounting positions over the years in addition to doing other operations management work and running her own business. Diane is also certified as an Ontological Coach through Newfield Network and a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. Diane has been coaching busy professionals who are concerned about life balance and overall health. Life balance is also important for her, as she continues to do finance work and keep up with her many volunteer commitments.

Diane has served on the TVA Board since 2009, as the Treasurer since 2011, and as President since 2013. She currently works on various TVA-related committees and projects. Diane’s most fulfilling activity is working with other volunteers. For example when coordinating Veggielicious in 2013 and the Toronto Veggie Parade in 2014, it was inspiring to her to see volunteers come together to make an event successful. Diane intends to continue creating success, by working with others to spread messages of compassion and vegan health!


Kevin Downing

Kevin Downing

Vice President

I’ve been fortunate to spend the past year on the board of TVA, becoming an active member of the Program Review committee that evaluates TVA’s programs for impact and effectiveness. My first year has given me a lot of exposure to TVA operations and the opportunity to work with its fantastic staff and great volunteers.

I’ve been vegetarian for six years, and vegan for the most recent. There are many good reasons to be vegetarian. For me it was the combination of several – the impact on the environment, health benefits and animal cruelty. While adopting this lifestyle has gotten easier, it still has it challenges in a society that mostly doesn’t cater to the choices we’ve made.

Having personally benefited from education and support provided by TVA, I want to make the path easier for others. I see TVA playing that extremely important role – providing positive education and support resources to aid vegetarians and those making the transition.

I’m one of the founders of a tech start-up that has built a connected thermostat that allows users to better manage their home environment and energy consumption. I’ve also worked for a tech incubator and a cancer research lab.

I’m an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Toronto Jazz Festival. I’ve served on the board of the Art of Jazz, volunteered on political campaigns and an advisory committee for the AGO. I earned a BSc with combined honours in Microbiology and Biochemistry at Dalhousie University.

I believe I can continue to contribute to the TVA board through my international work and the diverse experience I have serving on boards and committees in both the private and non-profit sectors. Whether it’s on the board, serving on a committee or acting as volunteer, I’m eager to support TVA in any way that I can.


Deborah Ellis

My name is Deborah Ellis (please call me Deb!), and I’m pleased to stand for the Board of the TVA. About 15 years ago, I attended my first Toronto Veg Food Fest, and learned about the incredible suffering experienced by billions of animals; my heart broke seeing those images, and within a year I went from meat eater to vegan. I’m so grateful for that lecture that day, and want to give back to the organization that set me on a path to a more compassionate, healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Professionally, I work as a corporate trainer, with 20 years of experience leading groups through a variety of topics such as Personality Type, Communication, and Team-building. I love learning, and have had the privilege of attaining a Masters Degree in Adult Education (UofT) and certifications in Personality Dimensions, MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, and Business and Life Coaching. I recently had the honour of being chosen to attend Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, and have come away from that with an even greater sense of the urgency of climate change, including the huge part that animal agriculture contributes to this crisis.

As a society, we are moving in this direction; with each generation, there are more vegans and vegetarians. I believe people will look back on this time in history and find it inconceivable that sentient, gentle, intelligent beings were treated in such inhumane ways, and that we allowed our rivers to be poisoned and rainforests felled in order to eat meat. But shifting perspectives and habits is a process and (as much as I want to shout it from the rooftops sometimes!), I believe that outreach needs to be invitational, inspirational, and educational in nature; inviting people to see differently, inspiring them to make changes, and providing education and supports to make that possible. I’d like to bring my background, skills and passion to this effort, and would be honoured to be a part of the amazing work being done by the TVA and its Board of Directors.



Fraser Gibson

Past President, Strategic Planning Committee Chair

I have been a member of TVA’s Board of Directors for almost nine years and was President for a full five year term. As a Board member I spent five years on the Nominating & Governance Committee and have been leading our strategic planning efforts since 2007. I have volunteered for the Vegetarian Food Festival for about 16 years and have been actively involved in various Outreach events for TVA. I have also been a coordinator for Veggies of Halton & Peel (a TVA social group) although I now reside in Toronto.

I have previous board experience with non-profit arts organizations. In the workplace I’m a Vice-President at a national distributor of industrial fire, safety and environmental monitoring equipment and services. My responsibilities include facilitation of project teams, strategic planning, training programs and technology implementations. My specialty is supply chain management and I’m a professional member of the Logistics Institute.

My journey to become a vegetarian started more than 35 years ago and approximately 14 years ago I adopted a vegan diet. Early inspiration was from an environmental / political perspective, then health, and I finally awoke to the ethical perspective about 16 years ago, assisted significantly by presentations at the TVA Food Fair that highlighted the importance of compassion for animals. TVA programs have had a significant positive impact on my approach to food. It is an honour to be able to give back and help support the organization.

During 2016 we will reach the half-way point for the period covered by our current strategic plan and I look forward to working on initiatives within that plan and helping build on the success of TVA. I will work hard at further strengthening the organization and enhancing the effectiveness of our programs and the message we deliver.


Peter McQueen


I have served TVA for many years as a director, outreach volunteer, President two times, as a committee chair in the past, and currently as a member of the Marketing and Development Committee. In addition to my local experience I also have contacts in the wider North American and international vegetarian/vegan movement. Furthermore, I have strong connections with the very active Toronto animal rights scene. In my youth I was active with several environmental groups and still am knowledgeable about the environmental movement. My profession is teaching. For several years I have been a special education teacher, but previously worked in business and government. My business studies help me understand financial statements, strategic planning, human resources, and marketing.

In the 40 years since I became vegetarian and the approximately 25 since I became vegan I have witnessed and contributed to the amazing growth in veg*n resources in our city, the country, and many parts of the world. TVA has also grown and changed over our 70 year history. Our Veg Food Fest, Veggie Challenge, directory and discount program have inspired countless groups and individuals. I wish to continue to serve this truly wonderful organization in whatever way I can. My values and TVA’s strongly align. I believe in our inclusive, welcoming approach. Our diversity, both in our membership and in our programs, is our strength. We need to continue to build on that diversity by reaching into diverse communities and by encouraging meat reduction as a step towards vegetarianism and veganism. I look forward to contributing to our strong team of staff, directors, committee members, other volunteers, and members in moving TVA forward.


Tiffany O’Hearn Davies

I have always been concerned about the environment and animal welfare, but only recently adopted a vegan lifestyle. I was a vegetarian during my teenage years, but started eating meat again in university because there were few vegetarian options available. I always struggled with my choice to eat meat. However, I believed that it was necessary in order to be healthy.

In December of 2015 my husband and I stumbled over the documentary Forks Over Knives. Like so many others who have watched that film, we were shocked to learn that a number of common illnesses and diseases can be prevented or reversed by adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet. We were also surprised to learn about the environmental harms associated with animal agriculture.  We were inspired to change our eating habits and adopt a healthier, more sustainable and compassionate diet. At first, we implemented a pescatarian diet, because we were not ready to give up fish or dairy. But a year later, we decided to give up the dairy and seafood and eat a vegan diet.

Adopting a vegan lifestyle has had a profound impact on my life. I am healthier and happier than ever, and my lifestyle choices align with my values. In my transition to a vegan diet, I have benefited greatly from the resources provided by the TVA. Although there are an increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options available, many barriers remain to adopting this lifestyle. Had I had access to an organization like the TVA as a young vegetarian, I believe I would have had much greater success in maintaining that lifestyle and would have found my way to veganism a lot sooner. Having benefited from the work of the TVA, I want to give back to the organization and its community.

I am a lawyer and practice in civil and commercial litigation in downtown Toronto. I look forward to using my legal experience and knowledge of corporate governance and legislation to assist the Board of Directors in carrying out its responsibilities.  I am also excited about the prospect of sharing my experiences as a new vegan to help the TVA develop strategies to assist others in adopting this lifestyle and in taking steps to live a healthier, greener, more compassionate life.



Siddharth Seth

10246440Siddharth Seth was raised vegetarian – in a family mindful of animal sentience, of environmental responsibility, and of the direct health impacts of diet on general well-being. Herbal and natural cures for diseases and using nutrition-based healing for everyday illness was imbibed into his lifestyle from the get go. After graduating from college in India, he decided to pursue grad school in the United States, where he lived for about a decade, and never ceased to be appalled by the commercialization and marginalization of life forms and human ideologies due to stereotyping. His core value of compassion became more strongly ingrained as he strived to assimilate in the western lifestyle and judiciously reconcile ideological differences among cultures and practices.

Now a passionate Canadian, Sid has become increasingly aware of western farming practices as he mingled with the activist community following his move. He has volunteered for the TVA for about 5 years, and has been recognized for his contributions at various points. He organically resolved to veganism nearly 2 years ago, when a slogan on a volunteer appreciation gift from TVA struck his attention given his largely vegan lifestyle.

Sid’s professional career as a global technology product manager for a Big Four firm in the professional services network provides a unique opportunity for strategic planning, managing projects, vendor relationships, and global initiatives. Working closely with intellectually stimulating people in 150 countries on a daily basis makes him celebrate diversity and implement inclusion and engagement through skills such as active listening, scientific questioning, learning by observation, and empathetic communication. He strives to spread awareness through leading by example, and striking constructive dialogue with people at various points in their journey towards exploring a plant-based lifestyle. He is eager to apply his knowledge to implement the vision and mission of TVA to make an impact that matters, while advancing his leadership skills and social eminence.

Annette Wiegand

Annette is a strategist, brand builder a go-to person for ideas, creative energy and inspiration. She specializes in understanding consumer insights, how they relate to achieving organizational goals and implementing best practices throughout. She believes that to be successful we need to continue to understand the changing world around us, react fast, ask questions and find the key insights.

Annette has over 20 years of marketing and communications experience

With a BCOMM degree and Marketing Major she took a deep dive into the marketing realm and honed her skills working on a range of world-class brands. Her focus now is to use her experience to work with good organizations she believes in. She wants to inspire, motivate and help people understand the widespread impacts of their lifestyle choices.

Annette is passionate about volunteering and giving back to her community

Over the years Annette has volunteered at a broad range of organizations, where her involvement ranges from grassroots (Habitat for Humanity) to the strategic (marketing advisor for United Nations, a local Research Reserve) and events (Co-chair for the Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope, and Local Arts Initiatives).

Annette believes that the world would be a better place if we were to all adopt a plant- based diet

Annette wants to leverage her marketing experience and work with the TVA to engage the community. To further the TVA mission by generating awareness of the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle. She is excited about the prospect of working with the TVA board, staff and community and contributing to anything that will help the TVA reach their key objectives – both on a tactical and strategic level.