So on a grey, Sunday morning we went to check out Vancouver’s mini Veg Fest – a collection of 23 plant-based vendors in an urban park just off Main Street. We showed up at 11, when it officially started and found lineups 50 people long for most of the vendors that only got longer as we debated what was worth waiting for.
When did Vancouver get so many vegans? Maybe I should have paid attention to the Facebook invite that said 1.1K people were attending and another 4.9K were interested. Yikes! We managed to get some delicious croissants from Yellow Basket Baking and some butchered beans from The Very Good Butchers. I really wanted to try some of the cheeze shops but the lineups were just too crazy.
But who needs fancy vegan cheeses when you have your own personal vegan chef. For the past 3 months we’ve been having homemade, vegan meals cooked in our house by Sarah from Own Grown Life.
Own Grown Life offers a popular lunch program, but for Emily and I lunches are the easiest meal of the day, with plenty of vegan options downtown. Dinner is the real challenge. Daycare pickup with an energetic toddler who’s usually hungry, are not conducive to making nutritious meals from scratch. We were getting by with slow-cooker and Instant Pot meals prepped the night before (and by we, I mean Emily as she was doing 90% of the cooking), but it was exhausting.
Now Sarah comes over once a week to cook us three meals in our own kitchen and we have our evenings free again. On Tuesday evenings there’s a fresh meal waiting on the stove plus two more meals in the fridge that just need to be warmed up. It’s a pretty sweet deal and well worth the cost. We get to work with her on the menu every week and she follows our dietary constraints (vegan, no soy, and at least one nut-free meal every week so we have leftovers we can send to daycare).
Here’s a sampling of some of the meals she’s made us:
- BBQ Lentil Walnut Burgers
- Yam and Black Bean Enchiladas
- Maple & Orange Glazed Tempeh with Bok Choy and Soba Noodles
- Braised Eggplant with Chickpeas
- Gazpacho (awesome when it was super hot back in August)
- Sweet Moroccan Glazed Tempeh with Couscous and Carrot Date Salad
- Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Bean
- Spiced Indian Barley Stir-fry with chickpeas and spinach
If you’re looking for a vegan lunch service, or a personal chef who will cook to your dietary needs, I highly recommend checking out Own Grown Life. The convenience is awesome and we all love the food. Astrid gives it a hearty “num num” and “yummy”.
Chinatown is home to Vancouver’s newest cluster of vegan restaurants. Located just a 10-minute walk from where we live, it’s made for a tasty summer. Within a block of Main and Keefer there are 4 new plant-based shops that have opened in the past year. Vegan pizza, gelato, and everything else you might want is now conveniently located in the heart of the city.
Virtuous Pie lead the way when it opened its doors last September. Their pizza is amazing, with inventive combinations of toppings. My favourites are Kim-Jack (with kimchi and jackfruit), Stranger Wings (spicy cauliflower wings), and Curry Mile (butter chickpea curry).
The success of Virtuous Pie has lead to a number of other plant-based shops taking root in the neighbourhood this summer.
The Vegan Supply Store, an established online retailer, opened their first physical location on Pender in July. Their little grocery store is full of all the staples and treats to help anyone on a plant-based diet. Our favourite products so far are the Earth Island VeganEggs (I was skeptical, but they make a tasty scrambled egg alternative) and the huge selection of nut cheeses.
Umaluma is just across the street from the Vegan Supply Store, and Vancouver’s first dairy-free gelato shop (although I’m not sure how it differs from plant-based ice cream). They have over 15 flavours! Hazelnet, mojito, drunken cherry, macadamia chocholate – we’ve only tried a few but they’re all excellent.
And finally, Kokomo on Gore. This relaxed little cafe serves up salad bowls (including a tasty kale caesar) and soft-serve Cocowhip. The food was excellent. The Cocowhip was good, but it can’t compete with the gelato a block away.
As evidence continues to mount that eating meat and dairy is not only detrimental to the planet but also to human health, politicians in Canada are stubbornly committed to supporting the animal agriculture industry.
Take the recent tweets of Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, PEI & member of Liberal Government of Canada, who proudly tweeted about his meeting with cattle lobbyists.
When he was questioned about the environmental and health impacts of animal agriculture, he responded with: “have a T-bone steak. It will make you feel better”.
Which offended many people and as the outrage mounted he tried the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” defence.
Before claiming that it was hard working farmers and their families that were being attacked, which is ridiculous as all of the replies to his tweets were respectful and focussed on public policy.
Unfortunately the questions that Canadians were asking still remain unanswered. I wonder if anyone in the Liberal Government can explain:
- Why we subsidize animal agriculture when it is increasingly obvious it is not healthy for humans or the planet?
- Why does the Canada food guide still have sections “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives”. If it was based on the best science, it would look like the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which has a section for “Healthy Protein” and it recommends limiting milk consumption.
- How will Canada meet its climate change commitments made in Paris (to limit global warming to 1.5 C) without reducing the amount of animal products that Canada produces and consumes?
Before we even booked our flights to San Francisco we were planning where to eat. Our vegetarian friends have raved about the deliciousness the city has to offer. By the time we arrived we had 4 reservations booked for our 4 days in San Francisco. Three of the restaurants were totally vegan and one was vegetarian.
Here are our favourites:
Millennium Oakland – 5/5
We were really impressed by the inventive vegan food in this nice, cozy restaurant. It was easy to get to on the BART with an interesting looking neighbourhood around it (which we didn’t have time to explore). Everything was good, although the main courses outshone the appetizer and desserts.
Greens – 5/5
The first thing you notice about Greens is the beautiful dining room with giant wood sculptures and a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. But the food alone makes it worth the visit. Everything has so many elements to it and yet somehow it was simple and delicious. We had to trudge through the rain and dark to get there. I’d recommend trying to go when it’s lighter out and you can see the bridge better.
Citizen Fox – 4.5/5
Currently only in a temporary location in the Mission with limited hours, it seemed like a fully-formed restaurant with great food, nice decor, and professional staff. We went for brunch and got to enjoy many breakfast classics that vegans usually don’t get to eat like eggs benedict, a reuben sandwich, and waffles with fried ‘chicken’. They even had a live band playing quietly in the corner.
Vik’s Chaat Corner – 4/5
This one wasn’t planned. Our Berkeley friend brought us here knowing we were nostalgic for our time in India. It was the most authentic Indian chaat house we’ve been to since being back. There was a simple menu with all the classic Indian snack options (like cholle bhature, bhel puri, and dosas) cooked up at different stations where you picked up your food. It’s located off-the-beaten path in an industrial part of Berkeley, but worth the visit at lunch if you’re nearby.
Gracias Madre – 3.5/5
We cook a lot of vegan Mexican food at home, so we were excited to try somewhere that actually served up cashew cream and vegan tamales. The food was good, but none of the flavours or dishes really stood out. It was the only place we went where none of us finished our meals (because of the quantity not the quality).
Happy World Vegan Day!
I celebrated with some tasty perogies (recipe from Lindsay is Vegan) and a documentary – Cowspiracy on Netflix.
Generally, I’m not a fan of environmental/vegetarian documentaries, but this one impressed me. The filmmaker does a great job exposing the shocking lack of focus on animal agriculture’s role in causing a lot of the world’s environmental problems – include climate change, deforestation, and water shortages. I would definitely recommend watching this one.
The plethora of sunshine meant a good haul this summer.
It’s summer and the world is our grocery store. Our garden is booming, so we’ve been enjoying a lot of fresh salad and kale smoothies.
I also discovered that the apple trees on our rooftop produce surprisingly tasty fruit. Perfect for eating raw or baking into an apple crisp.
We also went back to our secret blackberry spot and picked a few containers full of delicious berries. We ate some fresh and froze the rest.
My latest food experiment is making kichmi (recipe). I was inspired after reading Michael Pollan’s new book – Cooked. It tastes really good and should help build a strong digestive system.