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, Kevin Downing.

Thomas Appleyard

Vice President

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 a 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.

Thomas draws from a wealth of experience as a board member with the TVA. He has been on the board for one year, including for part of the year as Vice President. He has also chaired the board’s Nominating and Governance Committee and volunteered at the Veg Food Fest and Vegan Bake Off. Thomas has served on several other 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 human resources, governance and risk management.

Thomas is the principal consultant and coach with Appleyard and Associates, a practice which focuses on leadership development particularly in non-profit organizations.

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.

Steph Davidson

Hi, I’m Steph! As a vegetarian for over five years, I’ve been involved with the Toronto Vegetarian Association for nearly as long. I was introduced to all things TVA as the public relations lead for the 30th Annual Veg Food Fest, and I’ve been a member and volunteer ever since.

I grew up in a small town under the impression that most meals required some sort of animal protein—farming is in my family. With the support of programs like the Veggie Challenge, I began to look at food differently and my veg journey ignited my passion for cooking.

I am a strong proponent of inspiring through example and encouraging people in all stages of their veg journey. Programs like Veg Food Fest are an amazing way to celebrate and highlight the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle—for animals, people, and the planet.

During the day, I’m a marketing copywriter at a tech startup. I have experience in journalism, PR, and content and I believe how you say something is as important as what you’re saying.

I look forward to working together to grow the TVA and share the veg message with as many people as possible.

 

Daniel Donato

Treasurer

Inspired by the potential health benefits, I initially made the switch to a plant-based diet in the summer of 2015. Subsequently, through my time with the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA), I became aware of and embraced the environmental and social merits of a vegan lifestyle. Not only am I passionate about the TVA’s mission, but I am also empowered by the notion that we can create meaningful change simply by encouraging people to think critically about their consumption habits (dietary or otherwise).

My journey with the TVA began at the 2016 Veg Fest. I started off as a TVA member and volunteered for the festival, then joined the Audit and Finance committee later that year. My time on the committee provided me with both valuable exposure to the TVA’s internal financial processes, as well as the opportunity to interact with a team of hardworking board members, staff, and volunteers.

Through my diverse experience in the financial services industry, I have worked in roles spanning business strategy and, more recently, investment strategy/research. Prior to beginning my career, I achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Business Administration from Western University’s Ivey Business School in 2015.

I am excited by the prospect of joining the TVA’s board and I believe my diverse skill set and knowledge will complement the areas of expertise of the other board members.

Kevin Downing

Kevin Downing

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 its 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 a 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

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 becoming a vegetarian started more than 35 years ago and approximately 14 years ago I adopted a vegan diet. An 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

peter2012

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 is an increasing number of vegan and vegetarian options available, many barriers remain to adopt 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.

Krista Schwab

Secretary

Krista is a communications professional who is passionate about protecting the environment and promoting a plant-based lifestyle. She has volunteered with the TVA for over two years in communications roles. During this time, she has contributed to the development of a comprehensive social media strategy, promoted TVA events through social media, and led the refresh of the Veggie Challenge website. She currently manages the TVA’s Instagram account (follow us @TorontoVeg!) She loves hiking and spends her weekends exploring nature across Ontario.

 

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 a 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.