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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.

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Vancouver Humane Society billboard near the intersection of Georgia & Richards in Vancouver.
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Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted Recipes Uncategorized vegan vegetarianism

Earth Day: Go plant-based for the planet

Today marks the 48th annual Earth Day celebration and around the world events and efforts will be taking place to draw attention to the need for stronger environmental protections.

As the global community reflects today on the increasingly sensitive state of the planet and what role we as individuals can play in tackling what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming issue, it’s important to remember that every time we sit down to eat, we have an opportunity to stand up for a better world.

Animal agriculture has been identified as a leading contributor not only to climate change, but to air and water pollution, water use, land degradation, deforestation and biodiversity decline.

In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire global transportation sector. This is because animal-based foods are incredibly inefficient to produce and are very resource-intensive. The processes involved when it comes to raising, transporting and slaughtering animals for food are responsible for potent greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. To put this in perspective, beef production requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of edible protein than common plant-based protein sources such as beans, peas and lentils.[1]

The production of animal-based foods also requires and pollutes large amounts of water. Agriculture accounts for 92% of our global freshwater footprint; approximately one third relates to animal products.[2] The water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken is approximately 1.5 times larger than for pulses (beans, lentils, peas). For beef, it is six times larger than for pulses.[3] The sheer volume of animal waste, along with fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, as well as hormones and antibiotics used on livestock create major water pollution issues. These pollutants seep into waterways, threatening water quality, ecosystems and animal and human health.[4]

Meanwhile, animal agriculture is a key contributor to land degradation and deforestation, with one-quarter of the earth’s land surface (excluding Antarctica) being used as pastureland. [5] The conversion of natural habitat to accommodate livestock and feed crops puts immense pressure on wildlife that struggle to survive in increasingly fragmented and degraded environments. Ineffective and ill-informed cull programs put additional pressure on predator populations, due to the perceived threat they pose to livestock profits.

While our diet can be a major part of the problem when it comes to protecting the planet, that also means it is a crucial part of the solution. A 2016 Oxford Martin School study found that the adoption of global dietary guidelines would cut food-related emissions by 29%, vegetarian diets by 63%, and vegan diets by 70%.[6] By reducing and eliminating resource-intensive animal products from our diet and supporting efforts to make more sustainable plant-based foods widely accessible, we can drastically decrease our individual and societal environmental footprints.

This Earth Day, join the growing number of people around the world who are recognizing the power behind what we put on our plate. Take our Meatless Monday pledge for recipe ideas and download our Live Well booklet to learn more about a plant-based diet. You can also support VHS’s efforts to introduce more healthy, humane and sustainable plant-based menu options in schools and other institutions.

[1] http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts

[2] http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Gerbens-et-al-2013-waterfootprint-poultry-pork-beef_1.pdf

[3] http://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/product-water-footprint/water-footprint-crop-and-animal-products/

[4] http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7754e.pdf

[5] http://www.wri.org/blog/2016/04/sustainable-diets-what-you-need-know-12-charts

[6] https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/news/201603_Plant_based_diets

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

Blue Heron Creamery – Vancouver’s first plant-based cheese shop

 

Blue Heron Creamery launched in 2016 as a vegan cheese-making and event catering company, but recently Chef Karen McAthy and her business partner Colin Medhurst announced that they will shortly be opening Vancouver’s first standalone vegan-cheese shop. We talked to Karen about the new storefront operation and about the growing appeal of plant-based cheese.

 

How did Blue Heron Creamery start?

I had been the executive chef of Graze Vegetarian (a vegan restaurant that closed in 2015). During my time there, I had wanted to offer a vegan charcuterie or antipasto board, but I didn’t really love what was available in the stores with respect to dairy-free, vegan cheese options. I have a background in fermentation, and such, so I began searching for ways to make something I would want to eat and to offer. So began what is essentially the first stage of Blue Heron r & d. I was very fortunate during that time, in that I had a young cook/chef from another restaurant who knew I was doing fermentation and culturing and reached out to ‘stage’ and Katie became an integral part of that early research. 

In late 2015, I moved to another vegan restaurant, but the interest and demand for the cheeses and other foods didn’t stop, so I began thinking about what I wanted to do with this process. In 2014, I had been approached by New Society Publishers to write a book about vegan cheese-making, and since I was doing ongoing research for the book, I was making cheeses and sharing them. By the spring of 2016, I knew that Blue Heron was the name I wanted (I have an abiding respect, admiration and appreciation for herons) Then I had the great fortune to reconnect with Colin Medhurst at an Erin Ireland event, Mindful Movie night. Colin had been a regular guest at Graze along with his wife at the time, and I had done some recipes for one of their e-books for Feed Life, their nutrition and wellness company. 

Reconnecting with Colin, put the whole project into a new motion, and we were so incredibly blessed to have the help, support and effort from Eden Chan and Zoe Peled in our first effort to get the company into a more formal place, and since then it has been a constant sense of growth and demand, and a multi-faceted learning curve!

 

What was the response from Vancouver consumers?

I would say we’ve been so fortunate to have support from so many people. I never assume everyone will like everything, so I am always happy when our products are well received. We have some products coming, such as our blue cheeses, that we know won’t be everyone’s preference, but that is okay too. 

It’s an interesting time to be producing a product that we know will make some people very happy, invite some skeptics, and, well, all the usual things that come with being in the food industry. 

 

How difficult is it to create cheeses that have the same appeal as their dairy equivalents?

Well, this may seem surprising to say, but that hasn’t necessarily been my overt goal. I am more interested in understanding what the microbes want to do with the plant-based mediums and what flavours and textures will be the result. My goal has been more to create cheeses, free from animal products, that can stand on their own. Some will occasionally feel familiar or taste a little similar, and some of that is because the microbes doing the culturing produce those same kinds of flavour and texture in dairy cheeses. I work primarily with cultured cheeses and that is the focus of the cheeses Blue Heron will be offering. So, it is a bit of an invitation to not compare and contrast (though this will be a little inevitable), but to taste something for its own characteristics.

This is a little different than some of the other vegan cheese producers out there, who are doing the work of trying to capture some nostalgia and familiarity of things that folks miss or think they will miss.

 

What made you decide to open a storefront operation in Vancouver?

We weren’t actually seeking to open a storefront in Vancouver, or anywhere really (at least not at this stage). We were looking for a larger, non-shared space to produce, and this opportunity just came up and it seemed like we should just go for it. We are right beside Friendly Snackbar, another vegan (and gluten-free) spot with amazing treats, and we really enjoy working with the folks attached to that project and the Wallflower Modern Diner, where owner Lisa Skelton has been incredibly supportive and encouraging among many other things. And, the neighbourhood, Mt. Pleasant, has been my home for more than 10 years, so it has a lot of appeal. 

 

Will you be expanding your product range?  (Some examples? – What’s most popular now?)

I have developed more than 20 styles of cheese that we will be releasing gradually. Some take a long time to age and will not be ready for release until the fall. Others, like our Cumulus (a coconut milk based cheese, presented in several flavours), along with our Smoke’n’Spice (sort of like a young smoked gouda), Forest (earthy and mild smoky notes), our coconut yogurt, cashew/coconut sour cream, cultured and non-cultured butters, and some other products of the non-cheese variety. 

Later in the year, we will be releasing some of our more ’boutique’ cheeses, the ones that take longer to age and develop, like our Beachwood (an almond-based cheese), our Ardea Blue (an ashed and wine washed blue cheese), and a couple of varieties of  bloomy-rinded camembert. 

 

What has been the biggest challenge In launching a plant-based business?

How do I communicate hysterical laughter in writing? First, there is never just one big challenge in this kind of enterprise, and sometimes they overlap and can be overwhelming. Vancouver is an expensive city. So, finding affordable, suitable space is immensely difficult. Food costs are an ongoing challenge for anyone working in the food industry, and trying to be mindful of things like wanting to minimize waste, and remain attendant to Fair Trade issues, and meet all regulatory requirements requires constant attention. 

The growing nature of a business partnership is a challenge and pleasure all at the same time, and good partnerships require as much attention and care as good friendships or other human relations, and are essential to the core of the business, but this isn’t a ‘bad’ challenge, just the reality. 

And, we make cultured food products, so if inventory is getting low, we can’t just ‘make more’ and have it be ready the next day… so we have the challenge of trying to keep all the layers of production moving so that we can meet a constantly increasing demand. 

Also, I am not sure that these challenges are any different than any other food business, the only one that I haven’t mentioned yet, that is different than some of the others, is that we need to be ready to inform, educate, and speak to what we are doing much more often and at much more length than some other food businesses. At tasting events we have participated in (some of the Gala’s that we’ve been at), we are often asked many more questions and need to be prepared for that… but this is actually a pleasure and worth it. 

 

Who buys plant-based cheeses?  (Just vegans or is the appeal wider?)

Since I was at Graze and through until now, our client base has been fairly wide ranging. We have many vegans, of course, and quite a lot of vegetarians who are transitioning to vegan. But we have a number of clients who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy proteins, and we have a growing number of food interested, food curious people who are spending more time thinking about where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and who like trying new things. 

 

Do you think the market for plant-based food will continue to grow?

I think the numbers speak for themselves. I don’t think the increase in plant-based, vegan products or lifestyle choices will be a trend, such as cupcakes (peaked then dropped a bit). With the UN posting reports about the impact of animal agriculture, increasing water insecurity due to human engagement and politics, and ever mainstreaming of some of the animal ethics concerns, I think the growth will continue. The Plant-based Foods Association identifies the dairy free sector to be selling several billion dollars globally by 2020, and vegan cheese is looking at global sales of $3.5 billion by 2024. I think other issues will arise, as they always do with rapid shifts in consumer changes. Commodity prices for the ingredients used in these products, and for the products coming from sensitive political and developing nations will pose some challenging questions around extraction and ensuring human rights and wellness of those related communities will become larger topics I am sure. 

 

What do think is driving the interest in plant-based products? – Animal welfare, health concerns, environmental concerns?)

I think there is more than one factor. For many years, it could have been said to be the primary influence was personal health and wellness, then environmental, and then animal welfare and rights, but the hard, diligent, difficult and tireless effort of so many activists and researchers and lawyers on the ground have been steadily having deeper reach, (my opinion) within larger parts of mainstream society. Animal Justice (Anna Pippus as a rep for them), The Furbearers Association, Van Chicken Save (all here in Vancouver), do constant work in this area, and folks like David Isbister of Plantbase Food and Products, aligns his business with animal activism, and while there is ongoing exercised dialogue between this realm and detractors, this dialogue also creates the opportunity for shifts in perception. 

No major changes, or perhaps very few, didn’t come without a number of different forces at play.  

 

Where do you see Blue Heron Creamery in five years?

We hope to be widely distributing across Canada and the U.S., and have licensing of our method to other companies in other countries, and develop our food education and innovation components. The course I teach in conjunction with my first book, The Art of Plant-based Cheesemaking is routinely full, and we are looking to develop an online course, along with several other courses… and Colin, co-author of the Juice Truck book and a certified health coach, and I want to develop some other ideas. 

We also want to be in a place to mentor and develop other vegan cheesemongers, and help develop the methods and practices of craft vegan cheese-making evolve and be understood as an evolution of cheese-making craft itself. 

I have a personal goal that I have had for much longer than Blue Heron, Soil (I won’t say much more here right now), but I am hoping that somehow Blue Heron will allow that project to sprout and grow. 

Blue Heron will open at 2410 Main Street in February.

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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

 

 

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animal welfare compassion News/Blog Promoted vegan

Here’s a great way to help hungry birds in this cold weather

 

This vegan recipe provides the fat that birds need in the cold

While feeding birds is not necessary year-round in our temperate climate, (there are some exceptions), birds definitely begin to have trouble finding suitable, nutritious food when the weather turns cold and snowy. Now is an important time to provide high fat, accessible food for our feathered friends. Birds seem to start coming to my backyard for a meal once the temperature drops below zero and especially when there’s snow on the ground.

You can find advice on many websites about what to feed and when – check out this store in Vancouver. However, if like me, you’re trying to avoid feeding suet (animal fat), I have a great recipe for a high-fat, vegan ‘suet’ that the birds in my backyard love. Of course, you’ll still need the wire suet cake holder, available at any pet supply or bird supply store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Shortening
  • 3/4 cup Peanut Butter
  • 3 1/2 cup Wild Bird Seed
  • 1 cup Quick Oats
  • 1/2 cup Corn Meal/Polenta

Instructions:

Stir together your bird seed, oats, and corn meal. Set aside.

Melt the shortening and peanut butter together and stir until completely combined (you want the mixture to be a smooth liquid). Pour into the seed mixture and stir together until the seed mixture is thoroughly coated and no dry spots remain.

Spoon the mixture into moulds of your choice, spreading and smoothing to edges, and freeze until set (about an hour)… Alternatively, allow to cool in the refrigerator until the mixture can be easily moulded by hand. Form balls (or whatever shape you think the birds would like), use a skewer to make a hole to hang from string, and freeze until set.

Store in the freezer until ready to use.

I put the suet into two ziplock bags and while it’s still somewhat soft, scrunch it into two wire suet holders. Once it’s frozen, all you have to do is pull the block out of the holder, remove the bag and place it back into the cage. Hang where birds can easily access all sides and somewhere they are safe from predators. Added bonus? Cat TV, all day (do keep those cats on the inside of the window!)

 

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animal welfare Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted Recipes school Uncategorized vegan vegetarianism

Chartwells & Langara College Lead Lower Mainland Meatless Monday Effort

 

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It’s been over a year and a half since Vancouver’s Langara College became the first campus in Western Canada to join the globally popular Meatless Monday movement. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) first introduced the initiative in March 2015 to Langara’s Environmental Club and food service provider, Chartwells. Both groups eagerly supported bringing it to the school’s cafeteria after learning about the impact of our society’s overconsumption of meat on animal welfare, the environment and public health.

“We felt this was a great opportunity to take a small, but powerful, step by raising awareness of the impact of our food choices and offering options to reduce that impact,” said Rizwan Bandali of Chartwells/Compass Group.

And seize that opportunity is exactly what Chartwells and Langara College did, with the introduction of delicious meatless menu items! The cafeteria kicks off each week with a wide variety of options, from roasted veggie paninis and mouth-watering curries to meatless meatballs, veg lasagna and creative tofu dishes.

langara-blog-post7Meatless Monday specials have been paired with eye-catching, educational posters aimed at raising awareness and boosting participation in the initiative. Statistics outlining water use and greenhouse gas emissions from meat production are another way the campaign extends education into the cafeteria and inspires individual action.

Chartwells reports sales have been steadily increasing and feedback regarding the meatless items has been very positive. So much so that the cafeteria recently began offering an additional daily hot vegetarian bar, adding even more meatless options to the menu.

Langara’s campaign has effectively blazed a trail for other Lower Mainland schools interested in taking similar steps to help protect animals, our health, and the planet. To date, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Eric Hamber Secondary and Winston Churchill Secondary have implemented similar initiatives and others are set to join as well.langara-blog-post1

“We’re thrilled to see Meatless Monday catching on here in the Lower Mainland and we commend Chartwells Langara for helping make that possible. Factory farming, climate change and public health are major issues facing us today. They can seem overwhelming from an individual perspective, but when we realize that we can have a significant impact simply by what we choose to put on our plate, we can take steps to support a kinder, cleaner and healthier world,” said VHS Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett.

Follow Chartwells Langara’s lead by taking our online Meatless Monday pledge. We’ll share a weekly recipe to help you keep your commitment! You can also support our effort to bring Meatless Monday to more classrooms, cafeterias and communities by making a donation today. Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your school, workplace, business or community? Get in touch with Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, to learn more!

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compassion Cruelty-free Food and Drink News/Blog Promoted vegan vegetarianism

Vancouver’s Vegan Supply supports “a life without animal products”

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Vegan Supply logo website-headingVancouver-based Vegan Supply is a growing business dedicated to ensuring vegan products are available to compassionate consumers. Though focused on the Canadian market, they can deliver anywhere in the world. We asked the company’s Dave Shishkoff some questions about Vegan Supply’s values, challenges and vision for the future.

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What is Vegan Supply’s mission?

Our primary goal at Vegan Supply is to better the food supply! By selling vegan foods, and ONLY vegan foods, we’re giving people a place to shop at, and invest into, that mirrors their beliefs and ethics. Instead of helping subsidize a grocery store meat department, or worse, greenwashing animal products with nearly meaningless ‘humane’ or ‘cage-free’ labels, we’re providing a legitimately and consistently ethical model. We see every purchase as a ‘vote’, and we’re offering a much higher standard for people to direct their money to, and enable businesses that are really working for a better world.

 

What was the initial reaction to Vegan Supply’s launch?

Our first public appearance was the 2015 Veg Expo, and it was incredible! Our booth was packed the entire time, and we couldn’t keep up with sampling and sales. This year, we doubled how many people we had, and it was even busier!

We launched our online site shortly after, in May 2015, with some ‘beta’ testing for locals, and we worked out most of our kinks, and have been fully operational since last summer.

 

What are the biggest obstacles facing the business?

While Vancouver residents can take advantage of our ‘drop-off’ option at either Meet restaurants (orders can be picked-up free), the lack of inexpensive shipping in Canada is probably one of the most challenging issues we’re confronted with. We’re already ‘topped out’ with Canada Post’s value options, and while it’s not too bad ordering non-refrigerated items, which aren’t any rush, it can be a fair bit to order refrigerated goods in 2-3 days to the other side of the country like Newfoundland.

We’re also finding a lot of vegans don’t participate in what we’d consider ‘common’ vegan online venues – despite a fairly visible presence in the local Facebook groups, and all the other social media exposure we’ve had, there are still a lot of local people who are surprised to find us (many at Veg Expo for example!) We’re a very diverse group, and it’s hard to be visible to ‘most’ vegans!

 

How do Vegan Supply staff stay positive in a world where animal-based products are still so predominant?

This isn’t actually an issue at all; it’s really empowering since we’re not dealing with these at all, and are actually confronting and replacing animal products. Plus we have the best customers who are enthused to not have to deal with these issues either. It’s not often a someone can shop and not worry about looking at a single ingredient list!

 

What are the most popular products?

Our biggest draw would have to be Miyoko’s cheeses – and they really are incredible. Unlike other vegan cheeses we’re used to, these are actually cultured nut-based cheeses, with an incredibly rich flavour and experience. As Miyoko herself puts it, it’s not the cow’s milk that makes cheeses taste so diverse, it’s the bacteria cultures that are used. Think about it – the ‘same’ milk is used for all traditional cheeses! These taste experiences can be had without harming animals, and Miyoko’s is really strong evidence of this.

Other top sellers include our diverse range of cheeses and spreads, like Vtopian, Sheese and Fauxmage; vegan jerkys (Louisville, Primal Strips and Butler are always winners); caramels from Cocomels and Liefie’s; and of course more familiar brands like Earth Island, Daiya, Gardein and Field Roast.

 

Who are your customers? Is there a predominant demographic?

Vancouver is obviously our biggest market, and we ship quite a bit to Alberta and Ontario. We’ve shipped to every province now, and I believe Nunavut is the only Territory that we haven’t shipped to – hopefully we can change that soon!

As far as individuals, we suspect a big part of our demographic is vegans, but also vegetarians, those looking to go vegan, and those who want or have to avoid animal products, like those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to eggs or other animal products.

 

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

I think the most important step is making sure they know there is ‘life without animal products’. Once people know that they can live pretty ‘normal’ lives and that really great vegan offerings exist, the transition becomes much easier. We can live without exploiting and harming animals, and hopefully companies like Vegan Supply are making it much easier for people to do this. If someone is wondering ‘what do I eat as a vegan’, we’ve got nearly one thousand (and growing!) items to choose from – there’s no shortage!

 

Do you think plant-based products and businesses are becoming more mainstream?

They’re definitely infiltrating the mainstream. People commonly plan to ‘go eat vegan tonight’, and every week there are news stories highlighting how much better off we are by reducing and eliminating animal products in our lives, from our own health to the health of the planet, and of course the animals themselves – it’s definitely more visible than it’s ever been.

In Vancouver, we’re seeing more and more places expanding their vegan offerings, from restaurants to grocery stores. It was pretty slim picking 20 years ago, and few places even offered soy milk. Now, every grocery will have it (even some convenience stores!), in addition to vegan meat alternatives, ice cream, and usually much more!

 

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

Ha! Don’t start a shipping-based business in Canada. *wink* How people access the site is also intriguing – for example we have several reminders along the process to include cold packs, but sometimes people still don’t order them…so we still need to figure out how to better communicate this sort of thing! It’s almost comedic if you actually read what’s on the site, and how much we’ve tried to inject this message in the process.

On a more serious note, we’ve learned that there are a lot of amazing people out there, who share our vision, and want to see a better world, and are helping us better the status quo – thank you so much to those people!!

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

Where To Eat Vegan In Vancouver

VHS volunteer and blogger Patricia Charis is a huge lover of nature and animals, which ultimately led her to embrace a vegan lifestyle in an effort to protect animals, the planet and her health. She wrote this fantastic blog post, Where To Eat Vegan In Vancouver, about her cruelty-free adventures around the city and we just had to share it:


Since going vegan around 8 months ago (on September 1, 2015) it has been one food adventure after another. I have to say I am extremely blessed to be living in a city like Vancouver where vegan options abound, with a ton of vegetarian/vegan restaurants all over the city, and even non-veg places have been including more and more vegetarian/vegan options on their menus. And we aren’t even in the Happy Cow list of top 5 vegan-friendly cities in the world!

Today I would like to share with you some of these aforementioned food adventures, and some of my favourite places to eat Vegan in Vancouver! Enjoy:)

1. MeeT on Main (& MeeT in Gastown)

Safe to say that MeeT on Main and MeeT in Gastown have become two of my absolute favourite vegan places in Vancouver! In the past their menu included both vegetarian and vegan food, but recently they have updated (or shall I say, upgraded) their menu so that all of their items default to vegan (they do still carry dairy cheese, but it has to be specifically requested by a customer to be substituted in their meal, and even this is being phased out I believe). I am very impressed by this business for making such positive changes. Not to mention their Taco Tuesday ‘Ish Tacos (pictured below) are pretty friggin fantastic!

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2. Heirloom Vegetarian

Another amazing restaurant, located on 12th and Granville, is Heirloom Vegetarian. The atmosphere at this restaurant is the perfect combination of casual and classy, and the food is just the right mixture of delicious and super healthy (as long as you order from the vegan half of their menu). This picture here is of the very first meal I had in 2016 and it did not disappoint. I absolutely LOVE avocado toast, and this dish was elegant and delicious and I have been dreaming about it ever since. I have to say that so far Heirloom has been my favourite place for vegan brunch in Vancouver.

Heirloom - Avocado Toast.png

3. The Naam

The Naam, on 4th and Stephens St., is a favourite for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. I have taken several non-vegan friends to this restaurant and it hasn’t disappointed anyone I know thus far. They are opened 24/7 and are often packed full with a line going out the door. Their Thai Noodles, pictured below, is my all-time favourite of their dishes, followed by the California Burger, as well as their Blueberry Soy Shake. The portion sizes at the Naam are quite large as you can see and I always leave super full and satisfied!

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4. Tera V Burger

My favourite place for vegan burgers in Vancouver? Tera V on West Broadway, hands down. The Smokey No Bull Burger with Daiya Cheese is SO legit, I can’t even tell you, you have to try it yourself. The burger patty is not like many veggie burgers I’ve encountered which, although still very yummy, tend to be a bit mushy and fall apart easily. The No Bull Burger patty has the perfect texture, and when covered in smokey BBQ sauce, it is just heavenly. Add to that a side of yam fries and I am a very happy vegan.

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6. Vegan Pizza House 

Think that vegans can’t eat pizza? Think again. We like our junk food too, and I can’t explain my delight when I found Vegan Pizza House, a cute little pizza place on Kingsway and Victoria. This place has been my absolute go-to when in need of an easy, convenient, and affordable meal to bring to parties or to just pig out on at home. There are 15 different pizza options, and I haven’t tried them all, but this picture is of the Mediterranean Special which is topped with artichoke, olives, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, and covered in daiya cheese. When my mother first tried this pizza she didn’t even believe it was vegan and has asked for it on several occasions since!

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6. Fairy Cakes 

I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to this little cafe on Fraser Street because my first experience with it was when I had vegan cupcakes sent to me on Valentine’s Day from my now fiancé (then long-distance boyfriend) two Valentine’s Days ago in 2015. I was vegetarian at the time but I was getting more and more into veganism, and was happily surprised with a delivery of a dozen super cute and delicious cupcakes (pretty much my favourite thing ever) on Valentine’s morning. Now that we are getting married in a few months we have ended up ordering our cupcake cake from Fairy Cakes as well. In addition to cupcakes, Fairy Cakes also makes cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, etc. They are 100% vegan, with gluten free options! Basically heaven on earth.

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7. Nice Vice Creamery

Last but not least on this list of favourite vegan food spots in Vancouver is Nice Vice Creamery in Yaletown! This little ice cream shop opened up just this year and I have already been there on multiple occasions for their deliciously cruelty free ice cream. All of their ice creams are dairy, soy and gluten free, made with organic ingredients and are sooo good. Now you can enjoy your ice cream completely guilt free knowing that it is not only way healthier for you, but far kinder to the animals and the planet as well. The picture below is of the matcha avocado ice cream and was taken by my fiancé (stolen off of his Instagram account @echan037😛 ).

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So there you go, some of my favourite places to eat vegan food in Vancouver! A couple of honourable mentions which are also pretty fantastic:

3G Vegetarian on Cambie St. (super legit vegan Chinese food)

Chau Veggie Express on Victoria Dr. (Vietnamese pho and vermicelli, need I say more?)

Panz Veggie on Victoria Dr. (vegan hot pot!!)

Zend Conscious Lounge in Yaletown (amazing food, 100% of profits go to charity!)

Lotus Seed Vegetarian on Kingsway (sushi, burgers, burritos, pasta, curry, smoothies !!!)

Eternal Abundance on Commercial Dr. (super healthy raw & cooked vegan food)

Dharma Kitchen on West Broadway (Asian inspired burgers and curry bowls)

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

Erin Ireland’s plant-based journey

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Erin Ireland is a food journalist, blogger, entrepeneur and animal-lover who has been on a personal journey to discover and understand the principles and practices involved in ethical eating. In a recent blog post (reprinted below with her kind permission) she describes her transition to a plant-based diet.  

 

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting here on the couch in pyjamas drinking an almond milk latte. I’m crying after re-reading some of the 831 comments on Jillian Harris’ blog post, “How This Alberta Meatatarian Became so Vegan-ish”, in which she opens up about her transition to a plant-based diet.

In the days following her post, I texted Jillian to say how impressed I was by her written words—how I envied her ability to get thoughts ‘on paper’ so effortlessly. What she wrote would have taken me months. She has drawn me to my computer today to share the unedited story of my own journey. I usually stick to sharing my ‘plant-based messages’ on social channels because they are short and easy to write. I definitely prefer talking over writing, which is why I gave this speech. But Jillian’s post (which broke jillianharris.com website traffic records) inspired me to go deeper and share some of the factors the inspired my personal decision to go vegan.

Like Jillian, I used to be a ‘meatatarian’. I was proud of it. As a college athlete training twice a day, I was the type to order double meat at Subway. I thought eating nothing but ‘lean animal protein’ would help me achieve a healthier, more fit, muscular body. I often said that I was “just not the type who would ever become a vegetarian”.

Wow, how things have changed…

 

WHAT DOES “VEGAN” MEAN?

My introduction to the word vegan came when I asked my parents what the term meant. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe they alluded to the fact that veganism was some super-extremist lifestyle that was more-or-less unachievable and mainly adopted by ‘extreme hippies’. I never thought twice about learning more.

Looking back, I don’t blame my parents. 25 years ago things were different. Factory farming wasn’t in the media spotlight like it is today. Baby-Boomers were raised in a time when meat and dairy was fully embraced. National meat and dairy councils were (and still are) supplying nutritional information to schools in North America. Despite the conflict of interest, teachers believed what they were teaching and young, impressionable students ate it up, literally.

THE FIRST ANIMAL PRODUCT I REMOVED FROM MY DIET

My first step towards cutting animal products out of my life came during sophomore year of university. For most of my life, I’d felt a little bit stuffed up, as if I had a constant cold. My dad suffered the same symptoms and told me that cutting milk out of his diet seemed to alleviate the stuffiness. I switched to soy milk. Immediately my sinuses felt better and I never went back to milk (note: this isn’t a professional opinion and I’m not saying this can work for you, just that it worked for me). I’ll admit, I still ate cheese and chocolate from time to time …how could I resist? I thought it was worth a bit of congestion.

The other reason I cut milk out of my life was acne. My skin issues began around the age of 19. I often got blemishes after big doses of dairy. Cutting milk out of my diet helped, but it was also a hormonal thing for me—going on the pill was the only thing that finally resolved my skin problems completely. Ironically, at the time my reasons for cutting dairy out had nothing to do with environmental or animal welfare issues. I didn’t know the truth about the lives of so many dairy cows. Today, in my heart, our planet and the animals are the main reasons I am passionate to seek dairy alternatives.

MEAT OBSESSION DURING MY VOLLEYBALL YEARS

As an NCAA Div. 1 volleyball player, I thought I needed a ton of protein. I thought I needed a meat heavy diet. Not a single girl on my volleyball team ate vegetarian—if any teammate, classmate or teacher raised the topic of vegetarianism during my four years of school, I don’t remember it. At my peak, I weighed 155 lbs and was the second strongest female in my athletic department.  Always looking to take things a notch further, I wanted to gain more muscle and I thought eating meat would help. Sometimes for dinner, I’d eat a whole rotisserie chicken. Nothing else. Even worse, my teammates and I would go to the Golden Corral buffet (which my mom nicknamed, ‘the pig trough’) for all-you-can-eat steak.

My small university town in South Carolina revolved around the one Walmart, and I loved going there to buy their cheapest lean ham. Another regular purchase was extra lean ground beef that for Hamburger helper that my roommate and I used to love to make. We thought we were making healthy choices. My mom would sometimes ask if I knew where this meat was coming from. I always dismissed her questions thinking she was being a paranoid mom. I remember telling her that the FDA / governing bodies wouldn’t allow unsafe food on the shelves…was I ever wrong. My mom had been right to question.

THE DOCUMENTARIES THAT GOT ME THINKING

My transition to a plant-based diet slowly started with the documentary, ‘Forks Over Knives’. The movie presented facts that a vegan diet not only stops disease from forming in the body, but actually reverses it. The evidence was convincing to say the least. I started to realize the impact animal-based foods were having on our health. I couldn’t believe this was the first time I was hearing such important information. The more I learned, the fewer animal products I ate.

Earthlings was another documentary that had a huge impact on me. It introduced me to the term, speciesism: the prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species. The documentary is graphic, filled with undercover footage shot inside factory farms and the odd slaughterhouse. I shut my eyes and cried through much of it, but I felt strongly that I needed to know what was going on behind closed doors. How could I make decisions about my food choices unless I knew the consequences of my actions? Now, I had seen those consequences and I simply couldn’t have anything to do with it. Farming is not what it was 100 years ago and the vast majority of the time, animals are not leading the happy lives, as depicted on food labels.

At this point in my life, I was still eating cage-free organic eggs from time to time, and if I was in a dining situation where the only option was seafood, I’d take it. But gradually, as I continued to read and watch, I lost all appetite for anything animal-based, including leather.

WHERE I AM TODAY

Three years into my plant-based journey, there are a couple recurring questions friends and family often ask. The first is which animal product I miss the most? The answer is: none. Since learning the true impact of animal agriculture, my cravings for animal products has completely disappeared. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I love GOOD food, and today, my plant-based options leave me dreaming about my next meal every single day.

The second question is whether my energy or training has suffered since quitting animal protein. Today, I’m more energetic and satiated than I ever was in university. I’m up at 5:30am for a 10K run about five days a week. I can’t imagine having the energy to do this back in the day — I remember always feeling hungry and tired during my school years. Another important driver for me was learning that the fear of not getting enough protein from plants…is a myth. As long as we consume our daily recommended intake of calories (from whole foods), it’s nearly guaranteed we will also get our daily recommended dose of protein. Our bodies can’t even process extra protein (just like vitamins) so they are eliminated from our systems, into the sewage system.

The last thing I’m often asked, is whether veganism requires more work. Ironically, I find it requires less (less stress too!). It’s really the little things that start to add up: no more racing home to get groceries refrigerated. No more obsessive washing of the cutting board for fear of e-coli or salmonella. No more finicky fat trimming. No more stressing over timing and temperature for the perfect steak, roast, or chicken. No more fear of meaty leftovers going bad if I forget to refrigerate right away.

Remember there’s always a learning curve when transitioning to any new diet. If the thought of vegan meal planning is daunting, know that, unlike generations before us, we are spoiled by the amount of amazing resources out there. For starters…

Before hitting publish I reread the post that inspired this note. Jillian received 831 comments on her blog and Instagram post—almost all filled with love, encouragement and acceptance. They bring tears of happiness to my face when I read them. What’s even more heartening are the actions of her following that I’m certain will be inspired from the conversation she has just begun.

Thanks to leaders like Jillian, a word I associated with ‘extreme hippies’ 25 years ago, is now well on it’s way to becoming a mainstream movement. This gives me so much hope.

 

Categories
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.

 

Bananas

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

 

Chocolate

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

 

Pomegranates

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

 

 

Vanilla

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.