New vision: simple vegetarian living • spiritual practice

Introducing a new type of shared living that started  here May 1, 2012.

Update 2017: This is still a work in progress. Renovations to create large open spaces in the house are not yet finished. For a while we tried a higher house fund amount of $230 per month for food and payments to those helping out the most, but abandoned that due to too much accounting required and the fact that people living here preferred to be on a more even level with a set expectation of involvement. So now the house fund is just for basic foods and supplies and is $120 per month (included in monthly amount). And there is a 7 hour per week request to contribute toward cooking, cleaning, etc. Lately we have increased the number of work-exchangers that stay here and work about 20 hours per week and we have a backyard cabin for Airbnb that brings in extra income.

There are five aspects to the new vision:

1. Learn and experience a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. 

We want to support those who want to try a vegetarian/vegan diet and can benefit from living with other new and seasoned veggies. Up to three bedrooms will be for shorter term (up to one year) new vegetarians, and the rest will be for experienced vegetarians who are open to helping the new people. There will be documentary nights and shared cooking of dinners where you are encouraged to help out and learn. There may be cooking classes or just learning through osmosis.

2. Inviting spiritual practice. 

This will be up to everyone living here to co-create: but we are aiming to have a weekly sharing event that includes meditation, devotional chanting, movement, etc. There will also be time to resolve any interpersonal tensions that come up. We also anticipate having some yoga, dance, and music jams happening in the house – both spontaneous and planned.

3. Home cooked meals will be included!

Almost every day there is a large lunch and/or dinner (feast). Even at times when there is no meal, there are often leftovers or it can be a chance to cook something simple. We have a house fund that will pay for purchases from farmers’ markets, Karma Food coop, an organic delivery service, small local stores, etc.

4. Environmental focus. 

We are looking for people who care about the environment and are willing to avoid plastic packaging and products, open to fixing things instead of buying new, and not wearing/using chemically scented incense, perfumes, cologne, soap/shampoo, etc unless very natural.

5. Simple all-inclusive price. 

Depending on size and room features, monthly amounts range from around $500 to $600 and include basic food ingredients, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, all utilities, high speed fiber internet and a house phone for outgoing calls.

Ideal short term candidate: You want to actively learn about how to cook and eat healthy vegetarian food. You are open to immersing yourself in an alternative way of living where the focus is on compassion, care for the environment, spiritual experience, and community activities. You are open to joining in group activities such as, dinners, jams (impromptu music making with voice, drum, guitar, etc); cleaning parties, fun exercise (road hockey or soccer in front of the house perhaps).

Ideal long term candidate: For you, engaging in and searching for spiritual experience is much more important than material things, and worth making sacrifices for. You really like serving and helping others, and love sharing. Open to working thru any interpersonal conflicts that come up and creating an alternative family with your fellow housemates.

You like to share your vegetarian cooking and living knowledge with others who are open to change. Other opportunities in the house include: helping short term residents or guests, contributing to our blog (articles/photos/videos), or working on the Veggie Challenge campaign.

We are looking for those who are actively living and seeking a spiritual life – a life of service, compassion and simplicity. As opposed to living mainly for oneself pursuing personal aims for financial gain, fulfillment, sensual relationships, etc. It is a matter of where one’s focus lies. It is not at all easy to go against the grain (and temptation) of materialistic society. To support a peaceful atmosphere, we are also looking  for those wanting to live without the distraction or temptation of TV and radio, cigarettes and alcohol.

More about the house

We are an easy-going community house that started about  25 years ago. The house is owned by one of the residents, who uses some of the proceeds to support charities including the Veggie Challenge (, an international charitable project that assists people who want to try a vegetarian or vegan diet.

We are located on a quiet street just west of Ossington and south of Bloor (1 block from Ossington subway station). We have a large tree-shaded front porch and back deck. Our three storey house has rads and a gas stove. There is a living room with a fireplace, eight bedrooms, a guest room and two bathrooms. We have an infrared cedar sauna and workshop in the basement.

Ecological features include using Bullfrog Power (sustainable electricity supplier), front load washing machine, clothes line for drying, low flush toilets, efficient fireplace insert where on cool nights we can burn scrap wood that would otherwise be trucked to landfill, a garden that provides greens, herbs, beans, peas, berries, grapes, and other edibles. And of course, we have a low-on-the-food-chain vegetarian/vegan kitchen with an emphasis on organics and locally-grown foods.

In our kitchen, most food ingredients are shared, but everyone has some space in the fridge and cupboards for personal beverages, snacks, packaged cereal, convenience foods, etc.

Sorry no cats (some of us have allergies).

For more about the house, visit

Interested? Please send a short email about yourself. Tell us a bit about what you currently like to eat. Why you might like to join this kind of house. Preferred length of stay. Any ideas or concerns you have, etc.

FAQ: The house sounds restrictive, are there opportunities for personal freedom and control over how I want to live?

There will be a set vision for the house that provides a focus and foundation for living here. Of course you always have the freedom to move out, but there are also many ways to exercise creativity and personal yearnings. You can cook whatever veggie dishes you like, get creative (or you can decide to not cook at all). You can paint or decorate your room as you like. Other than monthly meetings, most  house activities are voluntary. You can organize events or not. You can be active cleaning and caring for the house or you can opt out of cleaning. You have the freedom to go away and sublet your room. And you also have a say on how the house is run, including decisions on who lives here and who doesn’t.


2012 experiment (abandoned)

For a while we tried a higher house fund amount of $230 per month for food and payments to those helping out the most, but abandoned that due to too much accounting required and the fact that people living here preferred to be on a more even level with a set expectation of involvement. Some details from that stage:

“Every week there are 2 or 3 dinners (feasts) and several smaller meal preparations. Those who cook receive some money back from the house fund. Unlike most shared homes we have paid honorariums for key jobs.””

“Depending on size and room features, rents will range from about $380 to $500 and will include all utilities, high speed cable internet and house phone for outgoing calls. In addition there will be a monthly house fund fee of $230 that will cover groceries, house purchases (kitchen equipment, garden plants, etc) and will pay residents who want to cook and clean. The total cost will be around $680 but less for those who actively participate.”

“Rent credits are available for those who are keen to take on larger volunteer roles for working on the Veggie Challenge campaign.”

“FAQ: What happens if someone does a bad job of cooking or cleaning?

We all decide (generally at meetings) on matters of job quality and honorarium amounts. The house fund treasurer will award honorarium payments for completing set tasks, but they will not judge the quality of the work done. If someone is doing a poor job, it will be up to everyone to decide on a solution.”


Initial plans and ideas we recorded when forming this vision

Here are some notes from a meeting that Sairah and Steve had in January 2012. More meetings are planned and will include anyone interested in joining our vision.

Lotus Feast can be the new name for the house.

We can reserve for about $10 a year. DONE. Very few hits come up for “lotus feast“ in a google search, meaning we can be the undisputed top entry for anyone in the world that searches for us.

Lotus = spiritual

Feast = a feast of vegetarian food, a feast of spiritual fulfillment, a feast means a celebration of community abundance – sharing food (and knowledge and experience). Feast also hints at feet. The lotus feet of the Lord.

Overall vision

An exciting new living experiment

• simple vegetarian living • active spiritual practice

Operating principles

focus. On the vision. And we complete or maintain things we decide to do.
simplicity. If there is an easier way to do something, we do it.
service. We will support volunteer efforts and selfless giving to each other and the community. Key cleaning and cooking jobs will come with incentives.
activity. We work as a team – organize workshops, house projects, group sports, cleaning, etc.
spiritual. Anything we decide should maintain or support a spiritual focus in the house.

Weekly spiritual reflections and events

Biweekly or monthly interpersonal sharing circle to connect and resolve any tensions (required attendance for core members) Open to others.

Biweekly spiritual event featuring other spiritual practices.

Regular yoga classes where the instructor makes half of the proceeds and gives half to the house fund for common use. Could also work this way for other workshops/events. Sairah wants to offer classes.

Weekly work bee / meeting.

Focused on

– the Veggie Challenge campaign (such as making online cookbooks and recipe videos, blog articles, editing stories people send in, etc)

– running the house – purchases, schedules, improvements to systems, etc

– planning events – yoga, community meals, documentary nights.

Solutions for past problems

Dealing with how to communicate that sometimes you need silence and contemplation and want to avoid small talk. Solution: a simple gesture such as a bow with folded hands.

Need to find a way to simplify and shorten house meetings  in regards to the petty insignificant stuff.

– Should help a lot to have the food system simplified, so much less arguing over food.

– Also having more signage.

Dealing with unwashed dishes – One thing Steve wants to try is for everyone to have their own basic set of dishes. We can build individual dish shelves. The dishes would need to be unique and have names on the bottom. This way it is always clear who‘s dishes are in the way or left unwashed. And it is clear who to talk to to resolve it. There would also be guest dishes.

The core group will need to be strong and tight. We should look for people who eat in a similar way. We will need separate meetings and team building. And ideally a spiritual commitment or intent.

House renovations needed.

1. Open back staircase – then back door can become main entrance for residents and back stairs can be used when front room is in use for classes. Done

2. Basement room – fix up as entry way, mud room. Done

3. Opening up main floor middle room. One big kitchen/dining space is best for community events.

4. Open up the top floor to create one large room for yoga. Currently there is only a small yoga room and roof deck.

Note: Comments submitted to this website about wanting to live here are read by us, but not posted, unless requested.


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