“Being vegan is the strongest action you can do for the environment,” Georges Laraque says. “Before two years ago, I was one of the biggest meat eaters there was.”

Then two years ago, his life changed when he watched the documentary Earthlings. This graphic documentary shows how animals are treated in factory farms and slaughterhouses and how destructive a meat-based diet is on the environment and one’s health.

Laraque says, “Because I am an extremist, I decided at that moment [after watching Earthlings] to become vegan."

Laraque then translated and narrated Earthlings in French and started to organize showings of the film every month in Montreal. He says he "kind of created a huge movement in Montreal."

"The biggest problem is ignorance. If you don't know something, you're not going to change."

Laraque's own health improved markedly after he went vegan. His high blood press and asthma, disappeared within a couple of months after he stopped eating meat and dairy.

He also did not lose any muscle mass, contrary to popular misconceptions. "I show people you're not going to lose any muscle mass if you change the way you eat. Actually for people that play sports, they have more energy if they don't eat meat because your body uses energy to digest meat... after you eat meat you just want to go to bed. But if you don't eat meat you have energy, so I started having much more energy." He recommends a dairy-free diet. "Milk clogs up your lungs so when you play hockey and it's cold, you need your lungs to breath."

At the 10,000 Tastes, 10 Billion Reasons event in Toronto on August 10, 2011, Georges Laraque was a recipient of the First Annual Canadian Empathy Award, in honour of Canada's most diligent and outspoken animal defenders. Other recipients were Rebecca Aldworth, Jo-Anne McArthur, Lesli Bisgould, Toronto Councillors Glenn de Bearemaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Meagan Perry on behalf of rabble.ca!

For more information on the award see 10,000 Tastes, 10 Billion Reasons, with Gene Baur.

Video production: Anita Krajnc for rabble.ca

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