Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted Recipes vegan

A Vegan Valentine’s Day

VHS volunteer Miles Linklater reveals the secrets of making a perfect vegan dinner for Valentine’s Day.

My partner travels a lot for his work, and we have rarely been together on the actual date of February 14. This year is no different, but we will be together February 13 and will make a great meal together. If we have any single friends without plans, we’ll invite them over as well.

I like to have a ‘theme’ when I cook for people. The courses should complement each other, so this year I’m choosing to look at recipes containing ingredients considered to be aphrodisiacs (it is Valentine’s Day after all). Not surprisingly, most foods that fall into this category are either fruits or vegetables; animal products are almost never considered ‘sexy’!

Let’s start with Asparagus

asparagus Asparagus is best served on its own, either lightly steamed or roasted, with just a touch of lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. You can make it even fancier by using truffle salt or a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar (don’t use too much or you’ll overpower its unique flavour), but DO NOT overcook the asparagus. This will cause it to go limp and sometimes mushy. Always taste while it’s cooking and stop just before you think it’s ready. It will continue to cook (as all foods will) even after you take it away from heat.
Here are some dishes you can make using asparagus

And now onto Avocados

avocadoNot just for salads or guacamole, avocados are a vegan’s secret weapon when it comes to desserts! They impart a creaminess when used in desserts, whether as a main ingredient or as decorative frosting. Naturally they also work well in salads and are the perfect base for a creamy pasta dish.
Some recipes.



Always popular in the dessert category, bananas are full of potassium, a nutrient key to muscle strength. Similar to avocados, bananas add texture and smoothness to any dish when they are ripe, and also be the base for an ‘instant’ ice cream.
Recipes containing bananas



chocolateFull of phenylethylamine, a stimulant that conjures feelings of well-being, plus it’s delicious! It’s easier than ever to find high-quality chocolate which doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients. Try some of these recipes for a decadent dessert.
Recipes using chocolate



pomegranateFull of antioxidants, these exotic fruits add a unique taste and visual appeal when used in salads or desserts.
Pomegranate recipes




Red Wine

redwineIn addition to relaxing you faster than a neck rub, red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation. If you’re looking for a vegan-friendly red wine, check out Barnivore’s list of red wines from Canada



Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds and Flaxseeds

walnutsAll packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which just happen to keep sex hormone production at its peak! Walnuts are perfect for adding texture to stuffed mushrooms, and also great in pesto recipes and desserts
Great recipes incorporating walnuts




vanillaVegan desserts and ice creams made with this sweet bean will help stimulate your senses. Why not spoil yourself, your loved ones, and your guests with a dessert full of vanilla?
Recipes containing vanilla



Given all these choices, what will I make for my Valentine’s dinner? I will include red wine, start with a Colombian avocado soup, a delicious salad with broiled hearts of romaine, a lovely pasta dish with roasted vegetables and avocado, and end with a fruit tart or dessert of some kind.

As you can see, there are so many vegan recipes available to try (thank you Internet) that there’s no excuse not to make a caring and comforting dinner for those you love.

Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted vegan vegetarianism

How I impressed fussy foodies with a gourmet vegan dinner

Hazelnut Almond Dacquoise with Espresso Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache – Vegan version!




VHS volunteer Miles Linklater loves to cook vegan meals but he had a challenge on his hands when some Gallic, gourmet guests came to dinner.

Two of my good friends are world travellers and very snobbish about their food. Whenever I visit them for dinner, they ‘deign’ to provide me with some kind of boring bean dish or uninteresting pasta, but serve all the other guests various forms of meat and cheese.


It is always a challenge I love when it’s my turn to cook for them. As a vegan I consider it my ‘job’ to show non-vegans how delicious and easy it is to create a wonderful meal without animal products. I always start with the idea of serving them something which they will find familiar and tasty and then proceed to ‘veganize’ it. I often take non vegan recipes and find a way to make them animal-free.


For appetizers I simply prepared some dips (hummus and tapenade) served with bread sticks and vegetables, and then created some ‘cheese’ toasts using a mixture of chopped tomatoes and vegan cheese (Daiya or Earth Island) mixed with some vegenaise and grilled on slices of baguette until bubbling and browned. No one misses the cheese.


For my first course I cooked a traditional onion soup. Onion soup is normally not made with animal stock; the deep colour and richness of the soup is obtained from slow cooking of large numbers of onions for 1-2 hours until they have browned. I made the base of the soup a mixture of dried portobello mushrooms soaked in boiling water and then puréed in the blender, with a little sherry. I didn’t want to repeat the ‘cheese baguettes’ I’d served as an appetizer so I made some tarragon dumplings. Nothing is easier than making vegan dumplings for soups and stews. Simply a mixture of flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, whatever herb you wish to use (I usually use fresh dill), and then the ‘buttermilk’ (which is nothing more than soy or other nut milk with a teaspoon or two of vinegar added to it which causes it to thicken and sour like buttermilk). Most dumplings are cooked on top of the soup/stew, but I prefer to ‘steam’ mine over water as you would Chinese dim sum. This makes it more likely that they will turn out nice and fluffy and dry.


The main course was a vegan shepherd’s pie. This was the easiest thing to veganize as one just has to use vegan mince (Yves ground or Gardein) in place of the ground beef. Mix that with some pre-cooked vegetables and mushroom gravy and top it with puréed mashed potatoes and you’re set. I served the pie with Brussels sprouts stir-fried in garlic and olive oil.


The dessert was where I knew I would impress them the most. I decided to make a Hazelnut Almond Dacquoise with Espresso Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache. I’d never worked with the new vegan ‘miracle meringue’ replacer aquafaba (bean water), but I found a recipe to use this leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas as the replacement for the egg whites normally called for in a meringue, and the base for the multi-layered dessert and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. After only 40 seconds in my stand mixer the chickpea ‘liquid’ had already begun to form beautiful white stiff peaks. The coffee buttercream was just a mixture of Earth Balance, icing sugar and espresso. The chocolate ganache made from vegan chocolate chips and soy creamer. It was a time consuming dessert as the ‘meringue’ had to be piped into circular shapes, baked for two hours at a low temperature and completely cooked before assembly, but the result was really impressive and my guests said they could not tell the finished dessert was any different from what they would purchase and consume in any French pastry shop! I’m looking forward to experimenting with aquafaba again soon, trying my hand at macarons and other ‘meringue’ desserts.


Hazelnut Almond Dacquoise with Espresso Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

Traditional onion soup

Tips for a gluten-free version of this meal:

Use rice flour for thickening the onion soup
Use Gardein ‘ground’ in the shepherd’s pie, with rice flour to thicken gravy
The dessert is gluten-free (but has LOTS of sugar)




animal welfare cruelty News/Blog Promoted

Appalling cruelty in animal transport

VHS demands action from government



Undercover footage taken by Mercy for Animals/Canada revealed that Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors failed to stop blatant abuse of pigs being transported to slaughter in Red Deer, Alberta. VHS is calling for enforcement of existing laws and updated legislation to protect these vulnerable animals (see our letter below).

Please contact Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Gerry Ritz and tell him Canadians will not tolerate this cruelty

You can also sign this petition (scroll down this link’s page to sign the petition)


October 16, 2014

The Honourable Gerry Ritz
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
1341 Baseline Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5

Dear Minister Ritz,

I was appalled to see undercover video footage exposing brutal animal abuse in Canada’s livestock transportation sector. The video shows animals overcrowded in transport trucks without protection from extreme weather or access to food and water; pigs who are so sick or injured they are unable to walk being painfully shocked with electric prods; workers using bolt cutters to break the tusks of male pigs without any painkillers; and animals who were so sick they died during transport.

To see this kind of cruelty under the watch of government inspectors and sometimes even in flagrant violation of existing laws, as weak as they are, is shocking, to say the least. The video captured a CFIA inspector stating, “If anybody has a camera, this will be on the internet” and another offering to get an electric prod for an employee. It’s clear that they know that what they are doing is wrong. CFIA inspectors are there to not only protect public health, but also to enforce animal welfare legislation. I find it shameful that these kinds of atrocities could take place in a civilized country such as Canada.

Canada needs to bring itself in line with other countries with much more progressive protection for farmed animals in transport – countries like the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and the US. Legislation to protect farmed animals, who are raised, transported and slaughtered with little or no oversight, should be fast-tracked in order to ensure not only the humane community, but the public, that the government takes farmed animal welfare seriously. Lastly and most importantly, CFIA inspectors need to be properly trained to do the job they are supposed to be doing.

Judging from the number of investigations done in recent months at farms and slaughterhouses chosen at random, this seems to be the culture of these industries, rather than an anomoly. I look forward to hearing the steps the Canadian government will take to address these issues.


Debra Probert
Executive Director
Vancouver Humane Society

News/Blog rodeo

VHS member responds to Calgary Stampede

How one VHS member responded to the Calgary Stampede’s empty claims of animal welfare

Many VHS supporters took part in our e-campaign calling on the Calgary Stampede to end calf-roping.  Those who emailed the Stampede received this response, which did not satisfy many supporters.  One wrote back to the Stampede with the following answer to the Stampede’s explanations:

Thank you so much for your response. I do appreciate you taking the time to send out your comments.

However, if you want to work with facts you might want to update your information to show that MOST ranchers nowadays use other methods than roping calves for veterinary purposes. As you work closely with these ranchers and cowboys you will know, or should know, that most use corals and cattle squeezes. There is actually not as much roping going on as in the past. Most people have evolved and have thought of easier ways to do things. Of course, I say “most” because some are slow to change … or slow learners. It is also easier for the rancher to use these squeezes as they can attend to more cattle and calves in an assembly line rather than roping and catching each individual one. In fact, using a lasso is a bit of a dying art. But the people who have these roping skills could certainly come up with other ways of presenting their craft without using any animals, and I am sure an audience would enjoy that. But I do realize this means having to be creative instead of relying on old habits. Yes, change is hard sometimes.

And before you say I know nothing about ranching, you are right, I don’t know EVERYTHING about ranching, as I certainly have never run one because I’m a vegetarian, but I CAN speak about what I do know for a fact and what I have witnessed. Three years ago I moved from the Cariboo, which is very much a ranching area, where I did visit ranches. I can tell you with most certainty that every ranch that I had the pleasure of visiting, and sometimes sharing meals with some wonderful people who have run cattle for years, they will tell you that nobody has roped and slammed a calf to the ground since they’ve owned the ranch, despite some of them inheriting it from family. Now I am not saying NOBODY does it, but very few large ranches do it that way anymore. So, ah, I know this is embarrassing for you, and I truly do hate to point fingers, but this again proves how much you are behind the times. But that’s okay, we can move forward now that you have this information. I say that respectfully because maybe you just don’t know all the different ways things have changed.

Also — and I don’t have the actual figures in front of me but I’m sure with some work I can get them — if you’re talking about science, then knowing anything about speed, velocity and torque, which is studied a lot in the car/truck industry for safety standards for vehicles, you will know that anything traveling at a high rate of speed (a calf or steer running) and then suddenly being pulled back by their necks or even a rope around their bodies with force, enough force to knock them off their feet, DOES indeed cause pain. This is why there are seat belt laws. If you have a veterinarian who tells you differently, then he/she is either a lousy veterinarian or is being paid to say this for you. I would love it if you could give me his/her name so I can contact them directly. I think this is very serious that there are veterinarians out there who would openly say this doesn’t cause them any harm. I would like to follow up on this and would be happy to do a demonstration for them if them like.

In addition, cinching up on sensitive areas on bulls and horses to make them buck does cause pain, which is evident by them bucking. As I stare out at my two horses right now as I’m writing this, who are peacefully standing in the shade under a tree, I don’t see them bucking around the yard. So that certainly isn’t something natural that they do. So this bucking is something that is visible to everyone and anyone involved in this so called “sport” will tell you, “Yes, we inflict this pain to make them buck and then we release the strap,” as if relieving them of the pain that you wilfuly inflicted makes everything okay. So again, if a veterinarian is telling you differently, then truly I want to speak to these veterinarians as I believe that goes against the Veterinarian Association’s Code of Conduct about willingly inflicting pain and suffering on an animal. This is intentional harm to an animal and I am hopeful that with how hard some people are working to change the laws in Canada that every time this is done these people can be charged with animal cruelty. People are also working hard on getting these laws amended to be written in more “layman’s terms” so there won’t be any misinterpretation.

Now, I don’t want to end this without giving you some great suggestions moving forward. How about instead of spending so much time justifying cruelty to animals for money, how about you try to evolve and think of new ways to have a festival. You can still have your parades with horses in them. You can keep all the wonderful food, drinks and rides. You could have some beautiful animals that are well taken care of that kids can see and pets that are kept in shady areas and offered plenty of food and water. You can have fun events like having a bunch of these so-called “cowboys” pulling around wagons with guys or girls on them. You could have people running and then another person roping them and pulling them to the ground. Hmm, somehow I think there could be human rights issues there. But honestly, if it’s okay to treat animals that way without being charged then why not do it to people? More seriously, though, how about having some bulls running around and the object is, with sticky tape, a person runs up to the bull and tries to pin as many of their team’s ribbons to the bull’s body. That was a suggestion made by a friend of mine and I think it’s brilliant! Now there’s one with an element of danger for the guy that needsto prove something, yet no harm comes to the bull.

So I will end by saying your Stampede is outdated and this is why we’re trying to change things. The world is evolving. That’s what the human species does … or should do anyway. There is a huge drop in circuses with animals and rodeos WILL be next. While I am sure there are still people out there that think sweat shops or slavery is still okay as long as it is for someone’s entertainment and/or profit, there are more people that are working hard to change this. It took a while for the Civil Rights Movement, and in some areas, people are STILL struggling with this, but kindness and compassion are winning and will always win. I personally dedicate my life to ending cruelty to anything. So I can tell you that I am not going away and if all goes well you’re going to have me bothering you for years to come. But I would be more than happy to work with you rather than against you. Less stress for both of us.

If you would like any further humane suggestions for having fun please feel free to contact me as I can come up with a whole bunch more if you like. I’m always happy to help.

Oh, wait, one last thing, in case you didn’t know, nobody uses chuck wagons any more either.

Yours sincerely,
Jackie Thipthorpe

animal welfare compassion News/Blog

The power of love – a dog story from the heart


Robbie & Leanne - seawall stroll

The following is a story from VHS’s current newsletter.  Sadly, as the newsletter went to print, Robbie’s condition began to deteriorate. In a final act of kindness, his life was ended peacefully and painlessly. 

Leanne McConnachie has arms even Michelle Obama would kill for. Slim, strong and tight as coiled steel. At age 47 she is a picture of athletic grace.

Yet she never goes near a gym. Or a track. The reason McConnachie, the Vancouver Humane Society’s director of farm animal programs, looks so good is love and the sacrifice that goes with it. McConnachie is the “mom” of a ten-year-old boxer dog named Robbie with degenerative myelopathy. Robbie can’t use his hind legs anymore, which means if he wants to go anywhere — and he does, constantly — he has to be carried there.

Never mind that he weighs 33 kilos, or 10 kilos more than the largest suitcase Air Canada will allow you to take free from Vancouver to Toronto. Never mind that McConnachie only weighs 20 kilos more. Robbie still has to be carried, so McConnachie carries him. It’s what love is about.

Robbie wasn’t always this way. When McConnachie, and her husband, Rob, adopted him from Boxer Rescue five years ago, he was fine. As lively, playful and spirited as most boxers are. But three years later he started to drag one of his hind paws. Then he had trouble moving his legs. Eventually when he was diagnosed with myelopathy, a disease in which his immune system literally attacks his nerves and spinal cord, Robbie became paralyzed.

But not immobile. The McConnachies saw to that. Three times a day they hauled him out for walks. They picked up his hind end using a specially designed harness that let him “run” using his front legs only. The catch was that they had to run too. When that got to be too much, they bought a special doggie wheelchair for him. Now they use it to “walk” him to the beach, where he digs in the sand.

Because the remarkable thing about Robbie, says McConnachie, is that he doesn’t appear to know he’s sick. “I see him trying to stand up all the time,” she says. “Another dog will come by and he’ll want to chase him. Or he’ll want to chase a ball. He’s completely oblivious to the disease. So we joke ‘He’s okay as long as someone’s got his bum’.”

Except it can’t go on forever. One day the disease will reach Robbie’s front legs, and he’ll have to be euthanized before they too become paralyzed. McConnachie knows that day is coming very soon and she will have to summon the courage to do what he needs her to do.

The only thing she is certain of is that when Robbie goes, she’ll never get another boxer. Because like so many other owners of so-called purebred dogs, she’s learned they’re too fragile, too delicate, too prone to illness to lead strong healthy lives. Selective breeding has seen to that. Toys and miniatures suffer from dislocated kneecaps. Large dogs succumb to heat prostration because they can’t cool their bodies properly. Bulldogs’ large heads and narrow hips mean they now can only be born by Caesarian section.

There’s now a genetic test for degenerative myelopathy, so Dr. Andrew Forsyth of Como Lake Veterinary Hospital advises anyone hoping to adopt a dog that’s prone to it — German shepherds, corgis and boxers are among 43 breeds that are — should adopt that dog from a “responsible” breeder who’s tested their breeding pairs.

That’s no longer enough for McConnachie. “So many of these terrible diseases and skeletal problems are the result of us selfishly breeding in genetic traits to achieve an arbitrary look. Maybe if we expanded the genetic pool and allowed them to revert back to a more natural look, they’ve have fewer problems and their owners would suffer less heartbreak.”

In the meantime, however, love is going to see her and Robbie through. It’s what being a good mom — even a good dog mom — is all about.

Nicholas Read is a journalism instructor at Langara College, an author and a former Vancouver Sun reporter.  He is a long time supporter of VHS and a great friend to animals. 

animal welfare compassion fundraising News/Blog PETA

A remarkable champion for animals

Dog with AshleyAshley Fruno has spent her life working for animals.  She trained with VHS as a teenager and went on to work for PETA in Asia, campaigning fearlessly in places where animal welfare laws are weak or non-existent, where protesting can be dangerous and where life for animals can be particularly hard.

Now, she is making a personal appeal for help with an incredible project she has taken on in the most challenging circumstances.  Her story is here. Please help if you can. Like most charities, VHS focuses on its own work and doesn’t usually promote other fundraising appeals. But we’re making an exception – for an exceptional champion for animals.

fundraising News/Blog Scotiabank

Support VHS in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge!


Run (or walk) for the animals!!


SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2013

VHS is again participating in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge on June 23. This is our biggest and most important fundraiser of the year! We hope that you will join us, either by running or walking the 5k or half-marathon, or by sponsoring one of our amazing team members. The animals are depending on us. Chickens, needy companion animals, rodeo animals – we speak for them all. Please join us so we can continue to help them.

If you would like to donate to support one of our runners on the Vancouver Humane Society Chicken Runners Team, please click here . Every little bit helps, and at least one of our participants will have their donations doubled by a generous VHS donor! Last year, VHS won a special $5000 award for having the highest amount raised per team member. We’d love to do that again!

If you would like to participate in the 5k or half-marathon, you can click here for the form – there are some helpful directions below (and if you hurry, your registration will be free):

Filling out the form: When you reach the Scotia Charity Challenge section, choose “I would like to create a fundraising account”, then select your favourite charity: “Vancouver Humane Society”

Create a username and account, then go to the Discount Section, and put in code 13HUMANE and your registration will be free.

Once you’ve reached the bottom and clicked “submit” you will see a box with a ‘transfer’ button. That will take you to your personal fundraising page, where you can change your goal, upload your own photos and edit your message.

As well, you can click here to join our Chicken Runners Team. Just look at those happy hens!!

If you click here you’ll see all the charities that are ahead of us. Let’s get VHS into the top 10!!

Thank you for helping us help animals!

cruelty News/Blog rodeo

Help us fight rodeo cruelty at the Calgary Stampede

cruelty of calf-roping at Calgary Stampede
Photo – Joanne McArthur


If you think what’s happening in this photo is wrong then help us stop it. 

Support our campaign against rodeo cruelty at this year’s Calgary Stampede.




advertising fundraising News/Blog vegetarianism

Food, Friend, Why?

Photo of "Food, Friend, Why?" bus back advertisement
Our ad “Food, Friend, Why?” raises an important and provocative moral question: why do we eat one animal and befriend another? Most of us wouldn’t dream of eating a cat or a dog, but when one considers the intelligence and sentience of farmed animals, it doesn’t make sense to consider cows or pigs or chickens as somehow so different.

We certainly don’t expect everyone to become vegetarian. However, it’s simply a fact that reducing or eliminating meat is the most effective way to stop animal suffering. Check out Raising the Barn or Eat Less Meat to see how animals are raised for food and why meat production is not sustainable.

We would like to run this ad again, but we can only do it with your help. The ad company has been very generous – they usually extend the ads an extra week or two without charging us. This means your donation towards this project can accomplish even more!

[thermometer raised=6222 target=7000 height=400 align=left currency=$ alt=off]

link to donate now at

You are amazing! We are only $778 away from our goal of $7,000. I know there are some of you out there who think the ad is important, but haven’t had time to donate yet. Can you help? It’s easy – just click the ‘donate now’ button. Even a small amount helps – if 105 people gave $10, we’d reach our goal! Thank you for all you do for animals.

Have you ever seen a hen chasing a ball? Check out this video captured by Director of Farm Animal Programs Leanne McConnachie on a recent visit to Rabbit River Farms (a producer of certified organic, free-range eggs).

[iframe src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

compassion cruelty News/Blog plant-based diet

Two ways of looking at animals

photo of animal Goat


With compassion

This heart warming video about a goat sanctuary demonstrates animal sentience and capacity for emotion.

As a commodity

This CBC story shows how the same animal is viewed as just a product, whose only value is economic.

Humans can choose not to treat animals as commodities by moving to a plant-based diet.