Categories
News/Blog

Support improved public access to plant-based foods

Vancouver “Local Food Action Plan” a chance to support better public access to plant-based food

The Vancouver Park Board is currently seeking public input through an online survey, closing January 28, on an updated “Local Food Action Plan”. The new 5-year plan will outline how the Park Board’s programming and services, which include community gardens; kitchens; food workshops; meal programs; farmers markets; concessions and restaurants, will contribute to a just and sustainable local food system.

This new plan comes at a crucial time, as society continues to deal with the COVID-19 public health pandemic and as concerns surrounding our food system continue to grow. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequities within the food system. It has drawn attention to the dangerous and cruel nature of factory farms and the risks they pose as potential contributors to future pandemics; the exploitative conditions facing workers and animals on farms, in slaughterhouses and food processing plants; the connection between unsustainable, industrial food production and climate change; and the issue of food insecurity for historically underserved communities.

A growing body of research concludes that a significant shift in diets and food production toward fewer animal products and more plant-based foods is necessary. These changes are needed in order to meet our climate goals, tackle the biodiversity and factory farming crises, and to sustainably feed a growing population a healthy diet.

Food system experts are increasingly calling on all levels of government, including municipalities, to support these much-needed dietary and food system changes through food-related policies, practices and programming. The Park Board’s new Local Food Action Plan is a key opportunity for doing just that. Incorporating and prioritizing more plant-based foods, meals and education in Park Board services, such as meal programs, workshops, events and at concessions and restaurants, will help to support much-needed dietary and food system change. It will also improve public access to healthy, humane and sustainable food options.

If you’re a Vancouver resident, please consider participating in the Local Food Action Plan survey before the January 28th deadline. You’re welcome to use the recommendations we’ve listed below to guide responses about opportunities for the Park Board moving forward, but please be sure to fill out the survey in your own words and based on your own experiences.

VHS Recommendations: 
  • Animal welfare & a “just and sustainable food system” – A truly “just and sustainable local food system” will incorporate not only the protection of people, the planet and public health, but also our social responsibility for the protection of animal welfare. Therefore, a shift toward improving public access to healthy, humane, sustainable and equitable plant-based foods and diets must be reflected in the new Local Food Action Plan. 
  • The role of municipalities – Food system experts are calling on governments, including municipalities, to take action to support dietary and food system change that prioritizes a shift to plant-based in their plans and policies. 
  • Improving plant-based access & education – The Local Food Action plan is an opportunity to improve public access to plant-based foods and diets, as well as plant-based education, through Park Board services such as meal programs, fieldhouse workshops, events, farmers markets, concessions and restaurants.   
  • Expanding resources to under-served communities – The Local Food Action Plan should assess and address gaps in programs and services for under-served communities. This is another area where plant-based food access and education can also be enhanced.  
  • Emergency planning & preparedness – COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of ensuring food security programming is maintained during emergency situations and is adaptable so as to ensure communities are able to continue accessing resources.  
Categories
News/Blog

Ethical shopping and eating guide

Animal-free shopping and eating guide

Do you want to make sure no animals were harmed when you’re shopping or eating? Struggling to find the perfect gift for someone? Looking to support and order from a local restaurant? This list has you covered. Click on a section in the table of contents to be directed to a list of relevant businesses, all located in the Vancouver area (with a few clothing retailers from elsewhere in Canada.)

Restaurants that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn restaurant eating?Order online?Description
Aleph Eatery1889 Powell Street,
Vancouver, BC
YMiddle Eastern
Bad Apple2481 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BCYHealthy “pub” food, punk theme
BeetBox Veg1074 Davie St, Vancouver, BCYComfort food
Buddha-full106 West 1st Street, North Vancouver,  BC (one other location)YFresh whole food-based meals
Chau Veggie Express2 locations:
Victoria Drive
Granville Island
YModern Vietnamese
Chickpea4298 Main Street, Vancouver, BCYMiddle Eastern
Chi Vegan1935 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BCYModern Vietnamese
CHOMP Vegan Eatery2234 E Hastings, Vancouver, BCYOrganic gluten-free pub fare
Copper Branch280 Nelson St, Vancouver, BCYPub fare
Indigo Age Cafe436 Richards St, Vancouver, BCYRaw vegan food; dessert menu section
Kind Cafe3080 Main St, Vancouver, BCNRestaurant with baked goods, zero waste
Khoe1370A E Georgia St., Vancouver, BCYModern Vietnamese
KokomoMultiple locations:
Chinatown
Kitsilano
North Vancouver
YFresh whole food bowls
Komo Comfort FoodsNYPlant-based food delivery
Kula KitchenNYPlant-based BBQ
Lotus Seed Vegan736 W Broadway, Vancouver, BCYPlant-based dishes from different cultures
MeeTMultiple locations:
Gastown
Yaletown
Main Street
YPub fare with dishes from other cultures
MILA Plant-Based185 Keefer St, Vancouver, BCYFlavour focused, internationally inspired, premium casual dining
Mizu Sushi Co.383 Raymur Avenue, Vancouver, BCYGluten-free sushi
Pizzeria Grano3240 Main Street, Vancouver, BCYPizza
Planetary Burger3088 Main St, Vancouver, BCYBurgers, fries, and milkshakes
Rolling CashewFood truck, may not always be here: 2608 Granville St, Vancouver, BCYInternational lunch fare
The Cider House1602 Yew St, Vancouver, BCYCider and fresh foods (ask if cider is vegan)
The Green MoustacheMultiple locationsY (Whistler)Cafe with meals, smoothies, desserts
The Pizza Castle and Indian Curry1110 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BCYPizza and Indian food
Veg Out Plant-Based Burgers & ShakesFood truckNBurgers, fries, and milkshakes
Vegan Cave415 Abbott St,
Vancouver, BC
NPizza
Vegan Pizza House2119 Kingsway, Vancouver, BCYPizza
Virtuous PieMultiple locations:
Chinatown
UBC
YPizza and ice cream
Wurst of Us1889 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC
YHot dogs and nachos

Dessert businesses that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Bonus Bakery1185 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BCYDrinks & pastries
Dough & CoNYBakery delivery
Edible Flours2280 W Broadway, Vancouver, BCYCupcakes, cookies, breads, loaves and other bakery goods
Fairy Cakes3586 Fraser St, Vancouver, BCNBaked goods & popsicles; peanut/nut-free
Flourgirl BakingNYCinnamon and other sweet buns
GLOW ChocolateMultiple locationsYChocolates and truffles
Hooray TrufflesNYChocolates and truffles
Level V Bakery39 Kingsway, Vancouver, BCYCakes & pastries
Living LotusNYChocolate products
Livvy’s Bakery CookiesMultiple LocationsY – through SPUDCookies
Naked DoughNYCookie dough
Panela Lemon1507 Powell St #150, Vancouver, BCYCookies
PikanikNYGluten-free, allergy-free artisan breads, cakes, desserts, etc
Saviour FoodsNYCookie dough
Say Hello Sweets620 Quebec St, Vancouver, BCYIce cream
Sweets From the EarthNYCakes, cookies, muffins, bars & squares
To Live ForMultiple locationsYBaked goods
Two Daughters Bakeshop980 W 1st St #105, North Vancouver, BCYVegan & gluten-free pastries, breads & other treats
Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato235 E Pender St, Vancouver, BCYIce cream – some flavours contain honey
Vegan Pudding & Co101 – 422 Richards St, Vancouver, BCYWindow counter selling cakes, pudding and tea
Vogue CakesNYCakes & other desserts
Yellow Basket BakingNYOrganic, nut-free bakery operating at pop-ups & farmer markets
Zimt Chocolate Cafe1336 Clark Dr, Vancouver, BCYOrganic treats, hot drinks and chocolates

Food and beverage businesses that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Blue Heron Cheese Shop2410 Main St, Vancouver, BCNGourmet cheeses
BlumeNYBeverage blends
Boochy BarMultiple locationsYKombucha and popsicles
Eternal Abundance Eatery & Grocery1025 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BCYGrocery products and cafe
Ergogenics NutritionMultiple locationsYSports supplements
Glory Juice Co.Multiple locationsYFresh juices, nut mylks, and cleanses
gomae mealsNYmeal prep
Harken Coffee338 Powell St, Vancouver, BCYCafé with meals & desserts
Healthy Choice Wholesale FoodsNNBulk foods
Kindred CulturesMultiple locationsYKefir live probiotics
Lita’s Mexican FoodsMultiple locationsNPrepared Mexican foods
Manna Sacred MealsNYMeal prep
PlantbaseNYMeat alternatives
Planted MealsNYMeal prep
Plant Life Nutrition2140 East Hastings Street,
Vancouver, BC
YVegan supplements
Plant CuriousNYVariety box
Plant VedaMultiple locationsYPlant-based dairy
Shani’SeasoningMultiple locationsYTofu scramble spice blend
Tality KombuchaMultiple locationsYKombucha
Tea SparrowNYTeas
The Modern MeatNYMeat alternatives
The Juice TruckMultiple locationsYJuice
TMRW FoodsMultiple locationsNMeat alternatives
Whisk Matcha CafeNYMatcha
Wild Trails Coffee134 East 14th Street, North Vancouver, BCNWraps, paninis, baked goods and coffee
Yoggu Coconut YogurtMultiple locationsYYogurt
Vegan Supply250 E Pender St, Vancouver, BCYGrocery store and online retailer

Clothing, bedding, footwear and products

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Bed2932 Main Street, Vancouver, BCY100% cotton bedding
BellantoniMultiple retailersYSustainable vegan clothing
ComfyComfyNYBuckwheat hull pillows
Daub and DesignNYSustainable vegan clothing
Dream Designs2749 Main Street,
Vancouver, BC
YNatural bedding, some contain wool
FairechildNYRecycled vegan rain protection for adults and kids
Frank and Oak316 West Cordova St, Vancouver, BCYSustainable outerwear, some products contain wool
Friend & FauxNYVegan clothing
Grinning GoatNYAnimal-free clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products
Haven Sleep CoNYA variety of vegan mattresses and bedding
inBed Organics1683 Chestnut St, Vancouver, BCYA variety of vegan mattresses and bedding
Inner Fire ActivewearNYSustainable vegan yoga pants and clothing
Kuseno Comfort ProductsMultiple retailersYBuckwheat hull pillow and hot/cold packs
Mala the BrandNYCandles made using soy, cotton, wood and glass
Native ShoesMultiple retailersYAll vegan footwear
Nice Shoes3568 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BCYAll vegan footwear
NoizeMultiple retailersYAll vegan clothing and outwear
Peace People ProjectNYUpcycled vegan clothes
PlantactiveNYClothing with vegan messages
Save the DuckMultiple retailersYVegan clothing and outerwear
Vegan YarnNYYarn made of cotton, bamboo, linen, and Tencel (Eucalyptus trees)
Vessi FootwearNYAll vegan footwear
Wuxly MovementToronto, ONYCanadian-made vegan outwear

Beauty and cleaning products and services

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Aspen CleanMultiple retailersYEco-friendly cleaning service with specially developed plant-based products
Blue DotNYSingle ingredient of ionized water that can disinfect fruits and vegetables
Botanical TherapeuticNYHair and skin care products
CeremonieNYNatural skincare products
Clarity ApothecaryNYNatural oils
Eventide Botanic AlchemyNYFace masks
Honest Cleaning & ServicesNYCleaning service with vegan products
IliaYYSkincare powered makeup
Lippy Girl MakeupMultiple retailersYMake-up
LisseNYShaving products and soaps
Live for TomorrowMultiple retailersYCleaning products
LushMultiple retailersYBath, body, skin and haircare products
Nala CareMultiple retailersYDeoderant
Nellie’s All-NaturalMultiple retailersYZero-waste cleaning products, laundry detergent
Okoko CosmetiquesYYBotanical oils and extracts
Peregrine Supply CoMultiple retailersYBeard and grooming products
Pink House OrganicsMultiple retailersYBath, body, skin, and makeup
RiversolYYSpecialty skincare
SapadillaYYCleaning products
Sappho: New ParadigmYYOrganic, vegan makeup
ScentualsYYHand sanitizer, bath and shower, body, face and aromatherapy
Skwalwen BotanicalsYYWild harvested plants for face and body products
Tru EarthYYZero waste laundry detergent
United and FreeNYGender-neutral hair, skin, and bath care products
Vintage Touch CleaningNYHouse cleaning services
Vitale Body & Soul CareYYSkincare products
Wild Jasmine Natural ApothecaryMultiple retailersYHandcrafted bath and body care products with an eco-conscious focus
Willow’s Wax Bar2139 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BCNCruelty-free wax and other beauty products
WoodlotMultiple retailersYVegan and eco-friendly skin care

Pet products

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
v-planetNYPlant-based dog food
VecadoMultiple retailersYPlant-based pet food and treats
Virchew Dog FoodNYPlant-based dog food
24/7 Dog WalksVegan dog-walking service (vegan treats, leashes, etc.) Contact info: 24.7dogwalks@gmail.com, 604-837-4553.

If you have any additions or modifications to this listing, please email info@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca.

Categories
News/Blog

Proposed labelling rules could hinder plant-based food industry

Have your say before government consultation ends December 3rd

Canada’s plant-based food sector is booming but proposed government regulations may hamper the industry’s growth.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched a consultation on new, proposed guidelines for the labelling of “simulated” meat products and certain plant-based protein foods.

The guidelines require non-meat foods formulated to resemble and substitute for meat products to have the same nutritional components as the animal-based products. Such non-meat products must meet a meet minimum protein content, fat content and vitamin/mineral requirements of the meat product it is intended to substitute.

Yet, there is no need for meat substitutes to have the same nutritional profiles as meat products, as long as nutritional information is on the label. Consumers can compare products based on their individual and unique nutritional profiles, judging for themselves whether a product contains the levels of protein and other nutrients they are seeking. Making it mandatory for plant-based food companies to meet these requirements could unnecessarily increase costs, reducing production and investment incentives in the industry.

The guidelines also require that the word “simulated” appear on the labels of these products and be “shown in letters of at least the same size and prominence as those used in the remainder of the common name.” So, for example, a plant-based substitute for meatballs would need to say “simulated meatballs” on the label.

These requirements are also unnecessary, as consumers would understand labelling that uses terms such as “contains no meat” or “meatless” more easily than “simulated” (which also suggests it is an inferior product).  A product that is labelled “meatless steak” would cause no confusion for consumers and does not need to be described as “simulated.”

The proposed guidelines also introduce a new category of non-meat product, described as “other products which do not substitute for meat or poultry” and which “are not aiming to be like a meat product.” These include products such as veggie burgers, tofu burgers, Portobello mushroom burgers, lentil loaf, and soy patties. They would not be required to have “simulated” on the label or have a nutritional profile similar to a meat product, as long as they are not being represented as substitutes for meat or poultry.

VHS is urging Canadian consumers to take part in the CFIA’s consultation, which finishes December 3rd, and let the agency know that these regulations could be burden on Canada’s growing plant-based food industry. The consultation includes a survey that give consumers an opportunity to comment on the guidelines and make these points:

1)  Plant-based burgers, sausages, etc. should NOT be subject to fortification and compositional requirements so that they are nutritionally similar to meat or poultry products. As long as nutritional information is provided on the label, consumers can decide if the product meets their dietary needs.

2)  It is NOT challenging to distinguish meat and poultry products from products that are not made of meat or poultry. The term “simulated” may actually further confuse people.

VHS believes Canadian consumers are not confused by plant-based products that are presented as meat substitutes, as long as the labelling indicates there is no meat in the product and provides a list of ingredients along with nutritional information. Our view is: Let the consumer decide.

Categories
Media Release

Thought-provoking billboard urges Vancouverites to “Go Veg”

New Vancouver Humane Society ad campaign promotes kindness to all animals

Media release
July 23, 2020

Vancouver – A striking new billboard in downtown Vancouver is encouraging Vancouverites to treat farmed animals with the same compassion as other animals by transitioning to a plant-based diet. The billboard is part of The Vancouver Humane Society’s (VHS) new Go Veg campaign.

The billboard, which shows the faces of a cow and a dog with near-identical markings, states: “Animals are the same in all the ways that matter” and urges people to “Be kind to every kind.”

“Farmed animals are thinking, feeling beings, with complex emotional lives – just like the pets we open our homes and hearts to,” said VHS campaign director Emily Pickett. “They suffer greatly under today’s industrial animal agriculture system. Our Go Veg billboard calls on society to recognize that animals, regardless of the label they are given – farmed or companion – are the same in all the ways that matter.”

Pickett said that, in 2019, more than 830 million land animals were raised and slaughtered for food in Canada. “Our overconsumption of animal products has led to the rise of the industrial animal agriculture system, characterized by large numbers of animals confined in cramped, barren and unnatural environments and subject to painful procedures, lengthy transport journeys and frightening slaughter conditions.”

The billboard ad will run in select locations in Vancouver throughout the summer. In addition, VHS is running ads in 24 Vancouver condo buildings, also promoting a plant-based diet.

-ends-

Vancouver Humane Society billboard near the intersection of Georgia & Richards in Vancouver.
Categories
News/Blog

COVID-19 exposes problems in Canada’s food system, groups call for change

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is joining other animal protection, environmental and food advocacy groups in calling on the federal government to direct any financial aid for Canada’s agriculture system toward transitioning to a safe, equitable and sustainable plant-based food system that improves food security, protects animal welfare, public health, worker safety and the environment on which we all depend.

The joint letter highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious problems with Canada’s food system and supply chains, particularly in the meat industry. Industrial livestock operations are a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation and are characterized by the confinement of large numbers of genetically-similar animals in unnatural and unhealthy environments. These conditions significantly compromise their welfare and could lead to the rise of new zoonotic diseases that threaten public health.

Meanwhile, the consolidation of the meat industry into the hands of a few multi-billion dollar corporations makes supply chains vulnerable to unexpected disruptions. For example, the pandemic has prompted some pig farmers in Canada to cull animals in response to reduced processing capacity at slaughterhouses, after they were forced to suspend or slow operations following COVID-19 outbreaks among workers. A large number of COVID-19 cases have been linked to slaughterhouses and employees have spoken out about the lack of protection for workers and the dangerous, fast-paced, and unhealthy environments. 

The joint letter encourages the federal Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to dedicate any emergency funding for the agricultural sector, as well as any future funding, on phasing out industrial livestock operations and assisting farmers in transitioning toward a sustainable, ethical and equitable plant-based food system. COVID-19 is an unprecedented wake-up call and policy-makers must take action to ensure that we emerge from this crisis with a more resilient food system that is respectful of the inter-connectedness of human, environmental, and animal health.

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Uncategorized

A sneak peak at our new Go Veg ads

While COVID-19 has put a temporary hold on our work with schools to put more plant-based options on cafeteria menus, we’re continuing to speak out and work behind the scenes to support food system change that will benefit animals, the planet and public health.

We’re excited to share a sneak peek of our brand new Go Veg ads, which build on our popular “Food vs. Friend” bus ad campaign that we’ve run the last few years. The ads will touch on the benefits of a plant-based diet and will be running online and in public spaces (see billboard above) throughout Metro Vancouver in the coming months.

VHS also participated in the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency survey and advocated for climate actions that include transitioning public menus toward fewer animal products and more plant-based options. The consumption of food makes up nearly half of the City of Vancouver’s ecological footprint and animal products have a larger environmental impact than plant-based foods, making this an opportunity to change the food system to help protect both animals and the planet.

VHS executive director, Amy Morris and projects and communications Director, Peter Fricker also recorded a podcast in which they discuss local plant-based foods and food sustainability. You can hear their discussion here.

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News/Blog

The big, challenging questions about plant-based foods with Peter Fricker

What plant-based foods are produced in Canada? Do you have to farm animals to produce enough food for Canadians? Would our economy fail if we stopped slaughtering animals? What’s the deal with vegan junk food? Learn about all of this and more by listening to our interview with VHS’ Projects and Communications Director, Peter Fricker.

Upcoming talk

On June 24, we are hosting an online presentation with Dr. Lisa Kramer, a behavioural economist at the University of Toronto, entitled Is the Future of Meat Plant-Based?. It is a free presentation and Dr. Kramer will be answering questions live! We have scheduled it for 12pm and 7pm to accommodate for different schedules.

Categories
Opinion Editorial

Politicians lagging behind soaring public interest in plant-based diets

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

Are politicians getting behind the plant-based food revolution?  Despite some promising actions, governments and political parties are lagging behind public and business interest in the shift away from an animal-based diet.

It was a welcome surprise when Health Canada, for the first time, ensured the meat and dairy industry’s lobbyists did not interfere in the creation of the new Canada Food Guide. The result was an evidence-based guide that focuses more on a plant-based diet at the expense of one centred on meat and dairy products.

Also welcome, but less well-known, is the federal government’s support for the emerging plant-based protein industry in Western Canada. Ottawa is contributing $150 million to create a plant protein “supercluster” in the Prairie provinces, aiming to take advantage of Canada’s pulse crops (lentils, beans, peas) and their potential use in products such as meat alternatives. The initiative, focusing on value-added processing, is expected to create an estimated 4,700 jobs over the next 10 years and $700 million in new commercial activity.

Such developments make sense, as study after study provides sound evidence that a food system based on the overconsumption of cheap meat is environmentally unsustainable, unhealthy and, in terms of animal welfare, unethical. Most recently, a report by respected U.K. think-tank Chatham House, called on the European Union to invest in meat alternatives because “a radical shift away from excessive meat-eating patterns is urgently needed to tackle the un-sustainability of the livestock sector.” The United Nations Environment Agency has said “meat production is known to be a major contributor to climate change and environmental destruction…” and last year honoured two plant-based meat companies with its Champions of the Earth award.

Yet Canadian taxpayers’ support for the meat and dairy sectors is massive and dwarves public funding for the budding plant-based food industry. The recently tabled federal budget promised $3.9 billion to the egg, poultry, and dairy industries as compensation for trade concessions. Last year, the federal government announced $250 million for the dairy industry to “increase productivity and competitiveness.” How many established Canadian businesses enjoy such support?

Here in B.C., the provincial government recently committed $450,000 toward the development of a slaughterhouse in Prince George. Similar grants are routinely doled out to the meat industry across Canada. In 2017, the federal and Manitoba governments gave $500,000 to Maple Leaf Foods to increase bacon production – the same year the company had net earnings of $164.1 million. In 2015, the World Health Organization declared processed meats carcinogenic to humans.

The provincial government’s Clean B.C. initiative makes no mention of reducing meat consumption. Yet a major Oxford University study last year found that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.

Even the Green Party of B.C. has not addressed the negative environmental impacts of the meat and livestock industries in its policy platform. In the U.K., the Green Party has pledged “to support a progressive change from diets dominated by meat, dairy and other animal products to healthier diets based mainly on plant foods…”

Local government in the province has also done little to address the issue. Several Metro Vancouver municipalities have made “Meatless Monday” proclamations but none actively promote healthy, low-carbon, plant-based diets. A number of Lower Mainland schools have individually partnered with the Vancouver Humane Society to establish Meatless Monday initiatives but no school boards have yet to make it district policy. Compare this to New York, which recently announced ALL public schools in the city will introduce Meatless Monday programs.

It’s understandable that politicians may be timid about recommending plant-based diets or calling for lower meat consumption. American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while promoting her Green New Deal, recently suggested, “Maybe we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner” and was accused by her political opponents of coming to take Americans’ hamburgers away.

But Ocasio-Cortez has not backed down. Instead, she has patiently explained why reducing meat consumption will benefit our environment and our health. Canadian leaders at all levels of government need to show the same vision and boldness. The evidence for change is there. All that’s missing is the political courage.

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

Chickpea: plant-based comfort food with a Mediterranean twist

Photo: Hanna McLean

 

The Chickpea food truck has been a big hit with Vancouverites, who have been lining up for its Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian food since it opened for business in 2016.  Now, owners Rotem Tal and Itamar Shani have opened a restaurant on on Main Street that’s attracting diners with its popular plant-based comfort food.  VHS asked Rotem and Tal about their new venture and about their thoughts on plant-based dining in Vancouver.

 

The Chickpea food truck has obviously been popular and successful.  What made you decide to open a restaurant?

Having a brick and mortar shop was always our dream. We decided to start with a food truck so we could try out our recipes and gauge the public’s response. We were blown away and really excited by the immediate positive reactions to our food and the Chickpea culture. So moving to a restaurant happened sooner than expected. 

 

You recently announced on your website that the restaurant had “gone vegan” and removed all eggs from the menu. What prompted the change?

We both grew up in households where meat was a main ingredient. Individually, through our own personal experiences we each became vegetarian, however. As our business began to grow, so did our research into ethical and sustainable practices. Months ago we removed dairy from our truck’s menu, so it seemed only natural to remove all animal products and by-products from Chickpea before opening the restaurant. We care very much about how our business impacts our community and the world as a whole.

 

You describe Chickpea’s cuisine as “delicious vegetarian comfort food with a Mediterranean twist.” How have Vancouver diners reacted to your menu?

Now we’re vegan comfort food 😉 

The responses have always been positive. There was a bit of an uproar when we removed eggs from our Shakshuka (a dish that traditionally is made with eggs). But overall, people like our food regardless of their dietary restrictions, preferences or practices. In fact we hear a lot of meat-eaters telling us that they didn’t even notice that our meals are all plant-based. 

 

Are there any dishes that have proven to be particularly popular?

Our Falafel Pita is a truck and restaurant favourite, and our chickpea fries seem to be taking Vancouver by storm. If you’re at the restaurant we’re currently obsessed with the Shakshuka Chickpea fries. 

 

How would you describe the typical Chickpea customer?  Is there a predominant demographic?

One thing we love about Chickpea is that both our truck and restaurant see customers of all different walks of life. We feed adorable children, serious business people, colourful hippies, cute old couples, proud vegans, and everyone in-between. Our customers are united by their desire for delicious food and good vibes. 

 

Do you think vegan and vegetarian food is becoming more mainstream in Vancouver?  If so, why?

Globally, we are becoming more aware of our impact on the world and how we’ve lost touch with our roots. As we move together as a community to reduce our carbon footprint, our eating habits play an important role. Vancouver is constantly working towards becoming more environmentally conscious, so it makes sense that more people are reducing or eliminating their animal product/by-product consumption.

 

What have you enjoyed most about launching and building Chickpea as a business?

Chickpea is more than just food. We’ve worked hard to create a business that reflects our desire to promote love, joy and creative inspiration. As a result, it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting new people who also care deeply about our planet and connecting with one another. Also, through the truck we’ve been exposed to some really cool local initiatives and events. In addition, we continue to love creating a family with our staff, customers and community members.

 

What have the biggest challenges been?

Anyone who’s started a business knows how all encompassing it is. Before Chickpea, we were both really good at taking time for ourselves and spending time with our family and friends. We’re working hard to regain that balance. 

 

Do you have plans to expand Chickpea further?  What are your goals for the future? 

We are always discussing Chickpea’s future and new goals for the business. However, going back to our biggest challenges, for now we’re quite focused on having more quality time spent in nature with family and friends. 

 

What would you say to skeptical carnivores to convince them to try Chickpea?

Carnivores regularly eat at Chickpea. So instead of trying to convince them, we’re happy that we can show how accessible and delicious meat-less meals are. 

 

Chickpea is located at 4298 Main Street, Vancouver.
(604) 620-0602
info@ilovechickpea.ca

Photo: Hanna McLean

 

 

Categories
Media Release

UBC hosts Canada’s first-ever plant-based culinary training and summit for food service professionals

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 29, 2017

UBC hosts Canada’s first-ever plant-based culinary training and summit for food service professionals

Vancouver – Chefs and food service professionals from across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and from as far as Winnipeg will be gathering this week at UBC for Canada’s first “Forward Food Culinary Training & Summit”. This workshop has helped over 1,100 food service professionals in the United States meet growing demand for healthier, more sustainable and cost-effective menu items.

Hosted by UBC Food Services, in partnership with Humane Society International/Canada, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Vancouver Humane Society, the two-day culinary experience will help chefs refine their plant-based cooking skills and will offer hands-on training, led by Chef Wanda White, former Executive Operations Chef at the University of North Texas who opened the U.S.’s first vegan university dining hall. Chef Wanda will instruct attendees on how to prepare delicious meatless, eggless, and dairy-free entrees that will appeal to guests of all dietary preferences.

“It’s wonderful to see the high level of enthusiasm for plant-based meals among chefs and food service managers in BC,” said Gabriel Wildgen, Campaign Manager for HSI/Canada. “We expect this event to be the first of many across Canada. Together with our partners in the education and nutrition, we’re creating healthier, more sustainable communities, all while providing delicious meals that cut costs.”

Following the May 29th and 30th culinary training will be a Forward Food Summit on May 31st, geared towards food service professionals and offering insights into the latest trends in both implementing and marketing plant-based menu items. The summit includes a series of speakers, a cooking demonstration, lunch at the UBC Farm (weather permitting) and opportunities for attendees to share skills in a peer-to-peer environment.

“UBC Food Services is passionate about this topic,” said Melissa Baker, Registered Dietitian and Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing with UBC Food Services. “We know about the many health benefits of eating a primarily plant-based diet, including a reduced risk for chronic disease. Plant-based diets are also more sustainable. This event is an opportunity for our food services team and other institutions to raise awareness of these benefits and to better meet the growing demand for plant-based offerings in food service operations across Canada.”

UBC Food Services intends to incorporate some of the recipes being featured in the culinary training into campus menus, including at a dedicated vegetarian stations at all three residence dining halls starting September 2017.

Plant-based eating is gaining momentum throughout Metro Vancouver and beyond, with new veggie-based restaurants and meat-alternatives launching on a regular basis. Meanwhile, meat-reduction initiatives like Meatless Monday are being embraced by local students, who are helping add plant-based items to cafeteria menus with the help of the Vancouver Humane Society.

“We’re thrilled to be supporting eleven local schools with their Meatless Monday campaigns and the feedback so far has been very positive,” said Emily Pickett, Program Coordinator for the Vancouver Humane Society. “Students passionate about health and sustainability have been keen to introduce their peers to the delicious world of plant-based eating and Meatless Monday is a great way to do just that.”

In an effort to support the participating schools and to highlight the benefits of reducing our overconsumption of animal products, the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster and Port Moody each passed proclamations earlier this month declaring Monday, May 15th as “Meatless Monday.”

All of this makes veg-friendly Vancouver the prime location for Canada’s first “Forward Food Culinary Training & Summit” and organizers are excited to help attendees get creative with plant-centred plates at this sold-out event.