Category Archives: Vegetarian

Own Grown Life – Personal Vegan Chef

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
Own Grown Life Meals
Own Grown Life Meals
Own Grown Life Meals
Own Grown Life Meals
Own Grown Life Meals
Own Grown Life Meals

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 Cooking. The convenience is awesome and we all love the food. Astrid gives it a hearty “num num” and “yummy”.

Vancouver’s New Vegan Quarter

Umaluma Vegan Gelato
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.

Kim Jack Il

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.

Vegan Supply Store

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 Vegan Gelato

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.

Kokomo
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.

Wayne Easter and Meat Politics

cow

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”.

https://twitter.com/WayneEaster/status/758744760068648960

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?

harvard_healthy_plate

Eating Vegan in San Francisco

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
Millenium Oakland
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.
Millennium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Greens – 5/5
Greens San Francisco
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.
Greens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Citizen Fox – 4.5/5
Citizen Fox Brunch
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.
Citizen Fox Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.
Viks Chaat Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gracias Madre – 3.5/5
Gracias Madre
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).
Gracias Madre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Celebrating World Vegan Day with Perogies and a Cowspiracy

Vegan Perogies
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.

Cowspiracy Infographic

Foraging and Fermenting

Garden bounty
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.

Rooftop Apple Tree
Apple Crisp
I also discovered that the apple trees on our rooftop produce surprisingly tasty fruit. Perfect for eating raw or baking into an apple crisp.

Blackberry Picking
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.

Homemade Kimchi
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.

Eating Vegan in Montreal

On our recent trip to Montreal we were delighted to discover that the city is a hotbed for vegan cuisine. Who knew? We had a chance to eat at six vegetarian restaurants (five of them strictly vegan), with a long wishlist of places we didn’t have time to visit. Normally I would rank the restaurants we visited, but all of them excellent with little separating our favourites (Aux Vivres and Lola Rosa) from the rest.

  • Aux Vivres
    Aux Vivres is a vegan restaurant with mass appeal and wide acclaim, but when I see menu items like veggie butter, vegelox, and coconut bacon I’m always a bit leery. Happily these weren’t overly processed soy knockoffs. The veggie butter was mostly nutritional yeast and the lox was made from carrot pulp and herbs, with a bit of liquid smoke (recipe). For dinner, we had the Aux Vivres burger and an Indian platter. Both were excellent. I highly recommend trying to get a seat on the awesome patio behind the restaurant, as the main seating area is loud.
    Aux Vivres Appetizer Aux Vivres on Urbanspoon
  • Lola Rosa
    I really loved the atmosphere at Lola Rosa. The tables are old, wooden desks with drawers that customers have stuffed full of love letters and poems. We found a paper fortune teller that said: “choose the menu item you least considered, everything is amazing” and then “actually, just get the nachos“. So we did, and they lived up to the anonymous hype. Everything is vegetarian with lots of vegan options, often substituting Daiya for cheese.
    Lola Rosa Nachos Lola Rosa Cafe on Urbanspoon
  • Propulsion
    A great little vegan restaurant in the gay village with a fabulous patio in the summer. We sat outside and ate our lunch while a nearby quartet played classical music. The menu was a bit confusing (language barrier?). We tried ordering a salad, but although they’re on the menu, salads apparently aren’t available. We got a quinoa bowl and tempeh sandwich, which were both hearty and delicious.
    Propulsion Lunch Propulsion Cantine Végétalienne on Urbanspoon
  • Invitation V
    Excellent food but ridiculously slow service. Our meal took 3 hours, including an hour wait between the appetizers and entrees. Everything is vegan. The appetizers and mains were good (especially the crabless cakes and hot pot) but the desserts were disappointing. I’ve had much better vegan crème brûlée and as much as I like kale, it was overpowering in the kale-chocolate cake.
    Invitation V Dinner Invitation V on Urbanspoon
  • Green Panther
    Simple but tasty vegan food. We tried the veggie burgers, Poppin’ Carrots cake, and a Peanut Munch Break cookie. They have more than one location, but this one is in a cluster of vegan restaurants, along with Crudessence and Cafe Verdure, between Mcgill and Concordia University.
    green panther The Green Panther on Urbanspoon
  • Crudessence
    Crudessence’s Golden Square Mile location is located next door to the Green Panther. Everything is raw and vegan. We sampled the desserts, all of which were superb. We didn’t get a chance to try any of the entrees, but they looked good.
    Crudessence Dessert Crudessence Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Eating Vegan in Toronto

Vegan Platter
Toronto has a lot of great restaurant options for vegans. We discovered some great new restaurants on our most recent trip, but the highlight was a visit to Fabbrica.

We got the rock star treatment. Celebrity chef Missy Hui, winner of Chopped, prepared a 3-course vegan feast for us. You could really taste the quality of the ingredients being served up. Missy really knows how to cook. Wood-fired mushroom pizza, grilled vegetables, braised greens, fried polenta, and chocolate fudge. All of it mouthwatering.
Amazing Fabricca FoodVegan Dessert

The other places we ate:
Tabülè – Tasty Lebanese food with an almost identical menu to Nuba in Vancouver.
Hot Beans – Vegan taco and burrito shop in Kensington Market. Really liked the jackfruit taco. The mac and cheese burrito was oddly good.
Lola’s Kitchen – Healthy meals for meat-eaters and vegetarians. The Israeli Couscous Bowl was a hit.
Mamma’s Pizza – Pizza chain that now offers vegan pizza with Daiya cheese.
Vegan TacosMammas Vegan Pizza