Cruelty-free News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted vegetarianism

Go cruelty-free this Thanksgiving


Pity the poor turkey. An inconceivable 20 million will be slaughtered in Canada in 2015, many of those destined to grace family Thanksgiving dinner tables.

Pity the turkey, the dairy cow, the chicken, the pig; in fact, pity all animals that are raised on factory farms to provide us with cheap meat and dairy products. They face horrific conditions on-farm.  Turkeys and chickens genetically bred to grow quickly suffer from constant hunger, painful lameness and searing pain from hot-blade de-beaking and de-toeing.  Dairy cows also endure painful lameness from lack of exercise, improper and dirty flooring, bad stall design and genetics – in fact, it’s estimated that 35 per cent of dairy cows in Canada are lame at any given time.  Transport and slaughter provide no relief from the cruelty, as already compromised animals are subjected to rough handling, crowded transport and questionable slaughter methods.

The legal system provides little protection for farmed animals.  The term ‘accepted management practices’  exempts  conditions such as extreme confinement, often for the entire life-span of the animal, and painful procedures such as those mentioned above. Conditions on most farms are not monitored by government, or any other independent, third party.

Even when animals are subjected to cruelty that goes beyond that accepted as “necessary”, the law provides very little in the way of redress, even when convictions are achieved.  In 2014, CBC’s Marketplace released graphic undercover footage obtained by Mercy for Animals Canada of a turkey breeder company in Ontario that supplies farms with up to 90 per cent of the turkey stock eaten in Canada.  Workers were seen attempting to kill turkeys with  broom handles and shovels, resulting in one bird being alive for more than five minutes after the bludgeoning began. Birds with open wounds and crippling injuries were left without adequate medical care.

The company and five of its employees were charged with eleven counts of animal cruelty. The company pled guilty to one count in exchange for the remaining ten being dropped. They were fined a mere $5,600.

Another case languishes in B.C. Undercover footage of Canada’s largest dairy farm in the Fraser Valley was released, again by Mercy for Animals Canada, in June, 2014. It exposed sickening abuse such as the repeated kicking and bludgeoning of dairy cows. In one case, a cow’s tail was viciously twisted until it broke.  In a complaint to police, Dr. James Reynolds, a professor of large animal medicine at Western University, called it “the most severe case(s) of animal abuse I have ever seen in 32 years as a bovine veterinarian.” Even though the BC SPCA recommended to Crown Counsel that charges be laid against the company, Chilliwack Cattle Sales, and the employees involved, more than 15 months later, no charges have been laid and the public is left to wonder why nothing has happened.

Codes of Practice exist for all farmed animals in Canada. These codes have serious deficiencies, as they don’t address most issues of public concern, such as gestation crates for sows and battery cages for hens, as well as many painful procedures. The codes are not enforced and not enshrined in law in most provinces (although the Government of B.C. recently announced that the Code of Practice for the Handling of Dairy Cattle is being incorporated into the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) – rather, they provide minimum expectations for producers to follow. Unfortunately, there’s no way for the public to be assured that even these minimum guidelines are being followed because there is no third-party, arm’s length audit process.  This means that on-farm cruelty must be addressed by complaints from the public – a near-impossible task since most farms are out of the way and are operated behind closed and locked barn doors.

Fortunately, the public’s concerns about the treatment of farmed animals are increasingly being heard by large companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Starbucks and others who are demanding accountability from their suppliers.  Perhaps at some time in the future we will see all farmed animals treated with respect, dignity and empathy.

But in the meantime, pity the poor turkey and take time to contemplate that the product of such a cruel system has become a symbol for a family holiday of thankfulness. Perhaps consider extending your compassion to all animals by replacing them on your table with one of the delicious meat-free and cruelty-free alternatives so readily available, such as Tofurkey, Gardein Holiday Roast, “stuffed turk’y” and “turk’s cutlet”.

animal welfare compassion Cruelty-free Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted Uncategorized vegan vegetarianism

Meatless Monday Goes To School


School is back and we at VHS couldn’t be more excited (sorry, kids)! You’ll recall we launched our Meatless Monday program this past spring, which even as the school year was winding down, was well-received by students in the Lower Mainland. Three post-secondary schools (Langara, BCIT and Trinity Western) joined the growing movement and multiple secondary schools expressed interest in bringing the initiative to their cafeterias this fall.

Over the summer we worked with the Vancouver School Board (VSB) to develop a flyer that served as a “how-to” guide for bringing Meatless Monday to school cafeterias. The flyer also draws attention to society’s over-consumption of meat, which has forced animals into factory farms, where their lives are characterized by intensive confinement, cruelty and suffering. Educating and empowering the public through an initiative like Meatless Monday is an important step toward reducing that suffering and creating a more humane society.

As the new school year kicked off, the VSB shared the flyer with every school administrator and teacher across the district! VHS commends this support for Meatless Monday by the VSB, as it provides individual schools the tools and confidence in implementing their own Meatless Monday initiative to better the treatment of animals, the well-being of the planet and of course, the health of the students.

We look forward to helping more students take action to reduce animal suffering by bringing Meatless Monday to more classrooms and cafeterias this year! If you’re interested in implementing Meatless Monday at your school, workplace or in your community, contact Emily Pickett. Don’t forget to take the Meatless Monday pledge and receive a weekly recipe/tip to help you start your week off right!


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

Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies: Building a cruelty-free community on the North Shore

Geremie Voigt and Kyla Rawlyns of Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies. photo: Stephen Hui, the Georgia Straight

Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies represents an ethical, 100% animal friendly, community-based environment. Geremie Voigt and Kyla Rawlyns opened the café in North Vancouver five years ago. Buddha-Full proudly serves organic fresh juices & smoothies, raw organic cuisine, organic gluten-free baked goods, a full local retail section, and locally roasted coffee from Moja.

VHS supports the growth of cruelty-free businesses and we were interested to find out more about Buddha-Full. Here’s our Q&A with Geremie and Kyla.

VHS: What inspired you to open Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies?

G&K: We both have been vegan for many years and have always been inspired by educating our community, family and friends on veganism and a conscious living dynamic.

VHS: How have you found the reaction from the community?

G&K: Our community tells us Buddha-Full is a staple in the lower Lonsdale area.  People tell us every day it is like going to their church!

VHS: What do you enjoy most about running Buddha-Full?

G&K: Standing by our initial mission of educating our community and holding a space where people can come and feel welcome. It’s important to us that our customers feel comfortable and know they are taken care of.

VHS: What do you find is the hardest part?

G&K: Challenges will always come up. The hardest part is having some customers coming in and asking for dairy products or meat products and educating them on why we choose to maintain our animal friendly selection.

VHS: How do you stay positive in a world where animal-based products are still so predominant?

G&K: Considering that veganism has doubled since 2009 in the U.S., we know things are changing and we are making a difference in the world.  We are proud to be standing by our ethics.

VHS: What is your most popular menu item?

G&K: The Lobo Smoothie (hemp protein, dates, peanut butter, banana and almond milk), it’s a Buddha-Full staple.  Also, the Pesto Vegan Sausage wrap is one of our absolute favourite items and we make it all in house!

VHS: Who are your customers? Is there a predominant demographic?

G&K: Upwards of 60% of our customers are female. The majority of our customers are not vegan, however they are interested and curious about veganism and feel welcomed in our space!

VHS: What do you think is the best way to encourage consumers to make more ethical choices? 

G&K: Leading by example is a great way to encourage ethical choices by others.  Be the change you want to see in the world!

VHS: Do you think veganism is becoming more mainstream?

G&K: We think the world is becoming increasingly educated about and involved with animal liberation.  Everyone we meet seems to have one at least one person in their family who is vegetarian, if not vegan.  Half of Kyla’s family is now vegetarian – Now that’s progress!

VHS: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about running a vegan business?

G&K: Having a space where everyone feels welcome is crucial. People want some sort of familiarity and seem to frequent spaces that provide that on a consistent basis.

bfull collage


Buddha-Full is located at 106 West 1st Street – Suite 101, North Vancouver.

Tel: (604) 973-0231


Cruelty-free News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted

The five best places to get vegan ice cream in Vancouver

Warm weather is here, and with it an excuse to indulge in a scoop or three of ice cream. Although supermarket freezers are exploding with delicious vegan ice cream choices (Luna & Larry’s salted caramel & chocolate is a personal favourite), sometimes we all want to let someone else do the scooping while we enjoy a new flavour with friends.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering, cow-approved vegan ice cream options in Vancouver. Here are five of our favourites:

1. Chau Veggie Express, 5052 Victoria Drive


Caramelized Banana and Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough; Image Chau Veggie Express

Chau Veggie Express offers a wide variety of ice creams by the scoop and pint, all of which are vegan. Current flavours include: coconut vanilla bean, Vietnamese coffee chocolate, Thai iced tea, chocolate hazelnut praline, caramelized bananas and cookie dough, coconut vanilla bean and lemongrass, and coconut pandan leaf and kale.

Andrew, Chau’s pastry chef and the genius behind Chau’s innovate vegan ice cream offerings, says: “I developed the recipes based on my favourite childhood memories. The ice creams are salted. The ice cream base is seasoned to reflect a very traditional Vietnamese style preparation of coconut cream used in Vietnamese desserts as well as savoury dishes, and I love it. It gives the ice cream another dimension and depth of flavour, and this is the way I grew up eating desserts at

Vietnamese shops and cafes.”


2. Earnest Ice Cream, Multiple Locations


Mint Chip; Image Earnest Ice Cream

Earnest Ice Cream serves up rotating, seasonal flavours alongside classics. Scoops and pints are available in their two shops, while their pints can be found at distributors all over the city.

Earnest Ice Cream says, “We change our vegan flavours weekly. We try to have two offerings, but depending on popularity sometimes one sells rather quickly.” Past vegan offerings have included coconut-lime sorbet, café au lait, chocolate, cookies + cream, lemon, maple walnut, and mint chip. Check out their website for what’s currently available in their scoop shops!


3. Rain or Shine, 1926 West 4th; 3382 Cambie


Coconut Chocolate Chunk; Image Rain or Shine

Rain or Shine has on its regular menu a vegan sundae: the Yumaste! It’s made with coconut chocolate chunk ice cream, seasonal berry compote, chocolate sauce and candied hazelnuts. All of their sundae toppings are made in house; other vegan offerings include fig balsamic reduction and eureka lemon olive oil.

While the coconut chocolate chunk ice cream, made with organic coconut milk, is always available, Rain or Shine also rotates through seasonal offerings. Josie from Rain or Shine says, “Currently we have an organic cucumber lime sorbet but we will be making a mint strawberry sorbet soon. We may also do a grapefruit IPA sorbet for craft beer week.”


4. Bella Gelateria, Yaletown and Coal Harbour


Orange & Vanilla Creamsicle and Chocolate Sorbetto; Image VHS

While sorbet is typically vegan and can be found at gelato joints all over town, Bella Gelateria is worth a special visit. In 2014, its proprietor won “International Gelato Master of the Year.” What does this mean? We have no idea, but Bella Gelateria’s array of sorbettos—ranging from the familiar to the exotic—are smooth, creamy, and flavourful.

On a recent visit, their Yaletown location featured eight non-dairy sorbetto flavours: cantaloupe, chocolate, creamsicle (orange & vanilla), faloodeh (rose water & rice noodles), lemon & basil, mango mango mango, rambutan, and yuzu citrus (Japan).


5. What’s Shaken Milkshake Bar, 586 Davie Street


Banana, peanut butter, and chia protein shake; Image What’s Shaken

Okay, so this one is shakes, not ice cream, but it’s too good not include.

What’s Shaken generally carries a non-dairy base of almond or coconut ice cream. You can design your own drink from the many offerings, or choose from the menu.

Xiomara at What’s Shaken says, “A few favorite non dairy shakes are Oreo, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Mango, Strawberry, Creme Latte, Blueberry, Coconut Nutty and Kale Colada. Our protein and superfood shakes can also be made with Vegan protein powder and we carry almond milks and coconut water.”

What’s your favourite vegan ice cream in Vancouver? Did we miss anything great? Let us know in the comments!

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.