animal welfare Food and Drink News/Blog

A&W’s move to antibiotic-free chicken doesn’t address animal welfare issues

You’ve probably seen the commercials.  A nice man from A&W Restaurants takes to the streets to offer consumers the company’s new antibiotic-free chicken.  People seem to approve and who wouldn’t?  The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is a huge problem that threatens the effectiveness of the antibiotics we depend on for human health.

But A&W’s move to address the issue by sourcing only chickens that have not been treated with antibiotics, while laudable, does nothing to address another serious issue of concern to consumers – animal welfare.

Chickens raised for meat are the most abused animals on the planet. They live in huge indoor sheds in groups of 5,000 to 50,000, eating and sleeping in their own waste for their entire lives. Because they are bred for fast growth they develop painfully weakened bones from rapid weight gain and suffer from many other painful conditions.

In 1950 it took 84 days for a broiler to reach market weight. Today it takes 38 to 40 days. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture estimates that if you grew as fast as a chicken, you’d weigh 349 pounds at age two. These chickens look full-grown, but peep like the babies they are.

VHS encourages consumers to seek out plant-based alternatives to factory-farmed meat because of the profound suffering that it causes. Products from companies like B.C.-based Gardein provide convenient, healthy and great-tasting meat alternatives.

Food and Drink News/Blog vegetarianism

Canada – a plant protein superpower?

Pulses beans peas lentils chickpeas

Not long ago, we had an article published in the Vancouver Sun about the importance of Canada’s pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas, dried peas and beans). It may seem odd for a humane society to be enthusiastic about a somewhat obscure agricultural product, but these humble legumes could save millions of animals from factory farm misery.

How? – by helping to meet the growing global demand for protein that would otherwise be met by raising and slaughtering animals.

It’s not just that pulses can be part of a more compassionate, plant-based diet. It’s that they can do so in an environmentally-friendly, sustainable way. And what’s more, they are a highly-nutritional, healthy food.

These benefits give pulses a huge advantage over meat production, which is wasteful, environmentally damaging and unsustainable.  While many studies suggest there are serious health problems associated with meat-heavy diets, there is growing evidence that pulses contribute to good health.

But here’s the problem: Most Canadians (and Americans) don’t make pulses a big part of their diet.  Canada, although it is one of the world’s top producers of pulses, exports most of these crops to other countries. As one food journal put it, Canadian pulses are ignored at home, adored abroad.

Fortunately, Pulse Canada, a national association of pulse growers, is working (along with similar provincial groups) to promote pulses to Canadian consumers and raise awareness of all their benefits.  The federal government, to its credit, has also invested in supporting these efforts.

But the meat industry in Canada gets far more support (including funding for producing beef, pork and poultry and meat processing) despite concerns about its impact on our environment, our health and on animal welfare.

That’s a shame because there is considerable evidence that trying to address the growing global demand for protein with more meat production is unsustainable.

Meanwhile, the market for meat alternatives has been growing and many of these include pulses as an ingredient. For example, Canadian company Gardein uses pea protein in its meatless products, as does Beyond Meat, a U.S. start-up. And demand for some traditional uses of pulses, like chickpeas for hummus, has boomed.

We think Canada should be investing more in cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly, healthy pulses instead of factory farming and unsustainable, unhealthy industrial meat production.

We’re already a world leader in pulse production. Why not aim to be a sustainable protein superpower?



Unfamiliar with cooking pulses?  Here are some links to great pulse recipes:

Pulse Canada (some recipes contain meat, but vegetarian options can be selected with filter)

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (some recipes contain meat)

Alberta Pulse Growers (Vegetarian recipes can be selected)



animal welfare compassion Cruelty-free Food and Drink News/Blog

Shop and eat cruelty-free this Christmas

If you’re looking to do some cruelty-free Christmas shopping or stock up on vegetarian or vegan goodies, here are a few excellent businesses we recommend.


Vegan Yarn StudioVegan Yarn Studio logo

Vegan Yarn Studio is a local business that hand dyes and sells their own cruelty free vegan yarn in their home studio.  Not to be missed if you’re part of Vancouver’s knitting community!

422 Fader Street New Westminster, BC
V3L 3T1
(778) 232-6752


Nice Shoes

Nice Shoes Nice Shoes is Vancouver’s only vegan shoe store.  You can find other accessories as well as shoes: purses, bags, belts, wallets, guitar straps, and vegan cookbooks.  Check it out for cruelty free accessorizing!

3568 Fraser Street Vancouver, BC
V5V 4C6
(604) 558-3000



Karmavore is a 100% vegan owned and operated specialty shopKarmavore2 featuring its own deli café, bakery, eco-friendly shoes, cosmetics, cookbooks, personal care items, and animal rights gear.  An essential place to visit for any animal rights enthusiast.

610 Columbia Street New Westminster, BC
V3M 1A5
(604) 527-4212


Elephant in the RoomElephant in the Room 2

Elephant in the Room is a mission-driven, non-profit organization that believes in “compassion shopping.” On their website, you can buy things like apparel and accessories for men and women, facial, body, and hair care products, and “eco-friendly pillows in whimsical designs.” Of course, all of the products are 100% vegan.

Vancouver, BC
(604) 355-1442


3G Vegetarian Restaurant
3G Vegetarian Restaurant

Voted “Best in the West” by VegNews Magazine, 3G Vegetarian Restaurant is the place to go for vegan Chinese food in Vancouver. With a full menu that includes dim sum, homemade gyoza, and  fried udon, it’s a cruelty-free dining experience not to be missed!

3424 Cambie St Vancouver, BC
V5Y2A9 (604) 568-9008


Fairy CakesFairy Cakes

Fairy Cakes sells delicious cupcakes and other baked goodies made with the highest quality ingredients; it’s 100% vegan, dairy- free, egg -free, and nut-free. The place to go if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

3586 Fraser St Vancouver, BC
V5V 4C6
(604) 442-YUMM (9866)


Zimt Artisan ChocolatesZimt Artisan Chocolates

Zimt Artisan Chocolates is a local business that sells delectable organic, fair trade, and vegan chocolates in a variety of flavours. Next time you buy a gift, try out Zimt Artisan Chocolates.

1025 Commercial Dr
Vancouver, BC
V5L 3X1
(604) 707-0088


Dazey Dog Pet PhotographyDazey Dog Pet Photography

Tanya Halvorson, the creator of Dazey Dog Pet Photography, is a member of Vancouver’s animal rights community. Her company specializes in cruelty free pet photography.  Fun photos capturing exactly who your rescued pet is!

Vancouver, BC
(604) 730-2899


The AcornThe Acorn

Late night restaurant and bar The Acorn provides vegan, raw, and gluten free options for the vegan diner. The bar is open until 2am with a special bar menu starting at 10pm every night. With specialties that range from “Hen of the Woods” and Halloumi to their signature cocktails, it’s a must try!

3995 Main Street Vancouver, BC
V5V 3P3
(604) 566-9001


Dharma KitchenDharma Kitchen2

Dharma Kitchen is a fully vegan restaurant, which offers a nourishing diet for the physical body and a meditative atmosphere for the spiritual mind. Options include “tempeh” burgers, salads, soups, brown rice bowls, and much more!

3667 West Broadway (at Alma)
Vancouver, BC
V6R 2B8
(604) 738-3899


Edible FloursEdible Flours

Edible Flours is a natural vegan bakery offering goodies to satisfy all your sweet cravings.  Their baked goods are natural as well as dairy and egg free. They offer baked chocolate chip cookies, birthday cakes, and yummy items for special events.

2280 West Broadway Vancouver, BC
(604) 734-8351



Vegan Pizza HouseVegan Pizza House

Vegan Pizza House offers a wide variety of pizzas (including gluten-free options) in addition to donairs, lasagna, and spaghetti.  The best place to go in Vancouver for vegan pizza!

15565 Marine Drive
White Rock, BC
V4B 1C9
(604) 248-5334



Coquette Faux FurriersCoquette Faux Furriers3

Coquette Faux Furriers is a cruelty free store for burlesque dancers! If you’re in the business of burlesque, and you’re looking for that perfect classic “fur” accessory, then you’ve found the right place. All of the accessories here are animal friendly faux fur!

Victoria, BC





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Snail House BakerySnail house bakery 3

Vancouver’s premiere vegan bakery in Kits, Snail House Bakery has homemade vegan treats for order and pick-up. Wheat-free, gluten-free, and soy-free options are available.  They carry delicious custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, truffles, and more!

5955 Yew St
Vancouver, BC
V6M 3Y7
(778) 230-6849



Loving Hut Express TruckLoving Hut Express Truck

Loving Hut Express, the fastest growing international vegan food chain, makes some of the best sandwiches, onion rings, burgers, and fries in Vancouver.

On the South corner of Davie and Pacific Boulevard Vancouver, BC
(604) 780-1029



Kama Natural SoapKama

100% plant-based soap and candles made with only pure essential oils. Combining different plant oils results in a soap that doesn’t melt into the soap dish and using herbs, grains and essential oils make it smell intoxicating!

Ganges P.O. Box 505
Gangex, Salt Spring Island, BC
V8K 2W2
(250) 537 8846




Tucker 1And don’t forget! – the perfect cruelty-free gift is one in honour of your loved one at Christmas! Send a donation (by cheque, credit card or online through our website) to VHS in lieu of a Christmas gift. Remember to include the name and address of your loved one and we’ll send them a card acknowledging your thoughtfulness. Questions?: 

VHS was able to save Tucker (left) from certain death thanks to the generous support of our donors.  

animal welfare compassion Food and Drink News/Blog

Gardein: A pioneer in meat-free products


Gardein founder Yves Potvin talks to VHS about the popularity of meat alternatives.

VHS encourages people to transition to a plant-based diet because reducing or eliminating meat consumption ensures fewer animals will suffer on cruel factory farms or be killed in slaughterhouses.

But many people who have always had meat at the centre of their meals find making that transition difficult.  Sure, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and lots of resources online, but for those who don’t like cooking or are pressed for time it can still be a challenge.

This is where meat-free convenience foods have a role to play.  The market for these products is currently booming, with new producers emerging and established ones growing fast.  One of the most successful is B.C.’s own Gardein, which produces a wide range of plant-based foods (everything from Chick’n Scallopini to Stuffed Turk’y to Meatless Meatballs).  With most of its sales in the U.S., Gardein is now in more than 18,000 stores and sales are almost doubling every two years.

Gardein’s founder and president Yves Potvin met with VHS staff recently to discuss the growth in plant-based products and Gardein’s place in the market.  Potvin, who pioneered the first veggie dog with his previous company, says the meat alternatives industry, with about $1 billion in sales, is still relatively small but has great potential.  “The cattle meat business is over $100 billion, so we’re not even touching one per cent,” he says.  “It’s a young industry.” Nevertheless, Potvin sees encouraging precedents such as dairy alternatives (e.g. soy, almond milk), which he says is about eight per cent of the dairy market.

The growing demand for alternative sources of protein is being driven by several factors, says Potvin.  One is the unsustainability of meat production, which is environmentally damaging and resource intensive; another is the health risk associated with overconsumption of meat (obesity, heart disease, diabetes); and, of course, ethical concerns about eating animals, especially those raised on factory farms.

Potvin believes his customers, who are mostly between 18 and 40, understand these issues and are open to change.  “The young consumer gets it,” he says, adding that younger women are especially attracted to Gardein products’ low calorie count.  There’s no doubt that Gardein’s brand emphasizes healthy ingredients (such as non-GMO soy protein, organic ancient grain flour, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables) and health benefits (cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free), but convenience is a major selling point.

“We are in the convenient food business,” says Potvin.  “We’re really into healthy, convenient food made from plant-based protein.”  But convenient, processed food has its critics – and Potvin takes them head on:

“There are the Michael Pollans of this world that say well, it’s processed food. Okay. Bread is processed. Pasta is processed. Our process is very similar to bread or pasta. If you eat bread or pasta, yes its processed food. And other arguments are ‘well why do you have to do it like a McDonald’s nugget?’. Well, one of the biggest things that I heard from consumers in their letters is ‘my son plays baseball and after the game we all end up at my house and if we have your nuggets the kids don’t know the difference.’ He’s happy. He fits in. It’s inclusive. “

“And let’s face it. When you finish a game of baseball you’re not going to go and eat kale!”

Gardein works to make its products fit into familiar, mainstream patterns of eating, avoiding the negative stereotyping of vegan and vegetarian foods.  “There’s a perception that you have to be wearing Birkenstocks or be a hippy to eat this kind of food,” says Potvin, explaining why it’s important to make people feel comfortable and at home with Gardein meals, right down to every detail of production.  “We use similar shapes and forms that people are accustomed to.”

But Potvin, a trained chef, is no enemy of traditional cooking from scratch. He simply acknowledges the reality of today’s culture, in which convenience food is a major element.  If people are going to eat it anyway, why not make it healthier, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly?

From VHS’s point of view, anything that reduces meat consumption and helps people transition to a plant-based diet is welcome.  For the billions of animals suffering on factory farms, the transition can’t come soon enough.

This article is from the current edition of VHS’s newsletter.

For more information on Gardein products visit

For information on VHS’s Eat Less Meat project visit:

animal welfare compassion cruelty Food and Drink News/Blog

VHS bus ad now on Metro Vancouver routes

087Our ad “Food, Friend, Why?” is now on Translink diesel buses throughout Metro Vancouver.  The ad 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.


Thank you to the generous donors who made this ad possible.




Food and Drink News/Blog

Vancouver’s Oakwood Bistro latest to go cage-free

Oakwood uses local certified organic free-range eggs

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro is the latest Vancouver restaurant to eliminate eggs from caged hens from their menu, and use certified organic free-range eggs instead. The Oakwood already serves Oceanwise seafood and meat that is local, organic and free of antibiotics and hormones. Regarding their switch to cage-free eggs, owner Mike Shea said “We want to be consistent in what we are providing our customers, whether they are joining us for brunch or dinner.”  They also serve up THE BEST vegetarian warm winter salad (warm kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts in a lemon parmesan dressing, or remove the parmesan for a vegan version).

Visit The Oakwood Bistro on West 4th near MacDonald, 604.558.1965, or view their menu online.

VHS’s ChickenOUT! campaign is working to encourage more restaurants to go cage-free.  Here’s a list of restaurants that have already gone cage-free.


Food and Drink News/Blog

A Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

By Debra Probert, VHS Executive Director

I love holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, because they give me a chance to serve vegetarian/vegan dishes to my meat-eating friends and family.  These holidays shouldn’t leave anyone feeling deprived – rather, they should give our omnivorous friends food for thought (quite literally!) about how easy it is to skip the dead turkey for something more tasty, healthy and humane.

Easy and delicious ways to cut corners are the great veggie roasts that are available.  The first is Tofurky (available at Capers Whole Foods, Choices and most organic food stores). I tasted this for the first time at a PETA event at a Toronto hotel.  It was cooked longer than the packaging recommends, using more oil.  The result was a crispy outside, with the look and texture that more closely resembles a well-cooked turkey.  It was delicious!  Of course, you can always just follow the package directions for a very tasty product.  I do mine in a closed roasting pan with lots of olive oil mixed with soy sauce.

Although I haven’t tasted the Celebration Roast yet (available at Karmavore Vegan Shop,  I’m told it’s fantastic (first-hand, from the VHS office manager , Lauren).  She says that it tastes spicier than the Tofurky.  And while the Tofurky stuffing is a more traditional one (sage, bread crumbs, rice) the Celebration Roast stuffing is made up of apples, butternut squash and mushrooms and is, she says, equally delicious.

gardein_frz_StuffedTurky_CSm-225x238Gardein (based right here in Richmond, BC!) has a new product called ‘savory stuffed turk’y’.  Each package has two servings, including gravy, and like Tofurky, comes frozen.  According to the Gardein website, it’s available everywhere – IGA, Save-on Foods and Safeway. I haven’t tasted it yet, but if Gardein’s other products are any indication, it’ll be great.

For the first two, you’re going to have to either buy or make some meat-free gravy. Tofurky makes a veggie ‘giblet’ gravy that’s excellent – I always make sure to have lots on hand for the mashed potatoes.  However, if you want to make gravy, there are plenty of recipes.  Here’s one from

When I was growing up, my favourite dish at holiday meals was the dressing, and I loved it soaked in gravy. Although the Tofurky and the Celebration Roast both come stuffed, I always bake an extra bowl of dressing in the oven.  It’s great the next day in cold Tofurky or Celebration Roast sandwiches, with lots of salt and pepper! Here’s a link to my favourite stuffing recipe.

If you’re really feeling ambitious, you might want to make a veggie roast from scratch.  Lauren has made this complete dinner from Vegan Yum Yum  and found it worked perfectly (even though there’s a warning on the website that you might have trouble making the seitan. If you’re nervous, seitan can be purchased ready-made at any Capers Whole Foods, Choices Market or any organic grocer).

One of the dishes on this link is roasted tomatoes.  If you’ve never had them, you don’t know what you’re missing. And they’re so easy! Just halve any kind of tomatoes, toss them with a bit of olive oil and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven or toaster oven until they are shrivelled and the skins are beginning to turn black. They’re great tossed with almost anything (I like them with veggie sausages).

What would a good meal be without dessert? If you haven’t tried one of the recipes from the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, then you haven’t lived. We greedily look forward to birthdays at the VHS office, not because we’re generous, but so we can try a different flavour. You can get the book at almost any bookstore. But just in case you’ve run out of time, here’s my  favourite recipe.

So there you have it, a Thanksgiving dinner to die for. Wait a minute – nobody had to die!  What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving!!