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How I impressed fussy foodies with a gourmet vegan dinner

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




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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Hazelnut Almond Dacquoise with Espresso Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

Traditional onion soup

Tips for a gluten-free version of this meal:

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




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Cruelty-free and smells heavenly!

Kama soap 1 15_16Last night when I arrived home after a long day at the VHS office, I was met with the most delectable aroma! A parcel from my favourite soap company, Kama Natural Soap, had arrived.


This company, based on Salt Spring Island, has been in business for over 17 years, and once you experience the products, you’ll understand why. My sense of smell is acute and some odours can trigger my migraine headaches. However, I find the natural ingredients used to scent these products to be soothing and never overpowering.



In addition, all products (except the lip balm, which has beeswax) are completely vegan and ingredients are sourced ethically. Plant oils like exotic ylang ylang from Madagascar, eucalyptus and tea tree oils from Australia, lavender oil from France and bergamot from Italy are combined in imaginative ways, creating the most interesting and delicious fragrances. Shea butter is ethically sourced from the Takpo widows group of Northern Ghana. And palm oil is no longer used (although it might be listed on the old labels that need to be used up!) as it was just too difficult to determine how it was produced.


My favorite soaps: Lavender/comfrey, Licorice bar, Orange spice and Flowers and spice with shea nut butter and hemp seed oil (organic and Canadian). Other bath products include comforting mineral baths to die for (Lavender, Restorative and Flowers ‘n spice) and bath oils.


Kama soap 3Unique products include hand and foot balms, Belly/baby balm, body powder, lovely scented soy candles, soap-on-a-rope and baby soap.


What more could you ask for at Christmas when you’re looking for the perfect gift? My biggest problem is that I want to keep everything for myself! Products are available at select retail locations or you can order online. Check out Kama’s website or email for more information.





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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


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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!

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Nice Shoes: a pioneer in cruelty-free, compassionate shopping

Joanne Chang and Glenn Gaetz of Nice Shoes
Joanne Chang and Glenn Gaetz of Nice Shoes



Nice Shoes, Vancouver’s only vegan shoe store, was opened in 2011 by animal advocates Glenn Gaetz and Joanne Chang. The store carries 100% vegan shoes as well as purses, bags, belts, wallets and other cruelty-free products.

VHS supports the growth of cruelty-free businesses and we were interested to find out more about how Nice Shoes is faring in Vancouver’s competitive retail market. Here’s our Q&A with Glenn and Joanne.



VHS: Can you say a bit about what motivated you to open Nice Shoes?

G&J: As shoppers, we were motivated by the anxiety and frustration we felt every time we walked into a shoe store knowing that the salesperson couldn’t answer our questions about materials – or even cared to try. As activists, we were motivated by our desire to normalize the vegan lifestyle.

VHS: How difficult was it to start a business that was the first of its kind in Vancouver?

G&J: Starting a business was the easy part! Vancouver has a vibrant vegan and animal rights community and everyone is excited when a new vegan business opens. The challenge comes in maintaining a profitable business and growing our customer base.

VHS: How is the business going now and how do you feel about the future of Nice Shoes?

G&J: We think there’s a bright future for Nice Shoes as veganism seem to be going through a growth spurt. We know this because a large portion of our customers are new vegans who have only made the transition within the last couple of years.

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

G&J: Our main customers are vegans and vegetarians, but that in itself encompasses a huge range of people. We see vegans of all ages and professions. We also get quite a few non-veg customers who simply like the styles we carry.

VHS: Some vegan shoes are not cheap. Is affordability an issue?

G&J: Since our main goal is to normalize veganism, we are very thoughtful in selecting brands that are familiar and affordable to most people. We do carry some exclusive vegan brands (which tend to be pricier), but they are a small percentage of what we carry. Most of the shoes in our current spring/summer collection range from $30-$150. We also have great sales throughout the year and a student discount program.

VHS: Do you think the market is growing for cruelty-free products?

G&J: Absolutely! We find that “vegan leather” is now a popular term used proudly by mainstream brands to sell products. And a lot of these brands are rolling out vegan product lines and marketing them as such.

VHS: What do you think needs to happen to encourage consumers to make more ethical choices?

G&J: Consumers want nice looking things that are decent quality at a reasonable price. If the products can match what they are looking for, they will switch without even trying. We have a few loyal non-veg customers who might not even know that our products are vegan. By offering alternatives that look great and are equal to, if not better than, their animal product counterparts, we are lowering the barrier of entry to a vegan lifestyle. All things being equal, who wouldn’t choose the cruelty-free option?

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

G&J: We’ve been vegan for 18 & 20 years. In that time we’ve seen a lot of change. Twenty years ago, vegan shoes were horrible plastic things that looked atrocious and felt like cardboard. When we look at the selection and the quality of products available nowadays, we can’t help but smile. Animal products may still be predominant, but the alternatives are gaining ground every day.

VHS: What’s your most popular product?

G&J: Since the weather is getting nicer, women’s sandals are flying off the shelves. And hiking shoes are in high demand as people are starting to hit the trails.

VHS: What do you find most rewarding or satisfying about running Nice Shoes?

G&J: Nothing makes us happier than getting a positive feedback from our customers – it really makes all the hard work worth while. And of course, all the adorable dogs who visit us in the store.

Nice Shoes is located at 3568 Fraser Street (between E 19th & 20th) in Vancouver.
Tel: 604-558-3000

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The times they are a changin’

Eat less meat

Back in 2008, VHS had an opinion piece published in the Globe & Mail, calling for a reduction in meat consumption for animal welfare, environmental and health reasons.

At the time, we weren’t hopeful that governments, mainstream media or other power brokers were likely to take the issue seriously, despite the overwhelming evidence of the problems caused by meat production and consumption.

But last week, there was a hopeful sign of change when the foremost nutrition advisory panel in the United States officially called for Americans to eat less meat to protect their health and the environment.  (Animal welfare is not in the panel’s mandate, but its advice, if heeded, would likely save many animals from suffering and slaughter on factory farms across the U.S.)

Another welcome sign of the times was an amazing article in the Globe & Mail this week by nutritionist Leslie Beck.  Quoting celebrated Canadian scientist Dr. David Jenkins, the article laid out the compelling reasons why a vegan diet benefits human health, the environment and animal welfare.

So far, there is no indication that Health Canada, which produces Canada’s Food Guide, will follow the U.S. example of recommending a cut in meat consumption.  But with more articles like Leslie Beck’s it may only be a matter of time before Canada catches up.

See our our Eat Less Meat page for more information on this issue.

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From margins to mainstream: meat-free eating is on the rise

According to a recent Globe & Mail article, vegan cuisine has moved into the mainstream.  Certainly, no one can fail to notice the emergence of vegan and vegetarian restaurants (along with more meat-free options in conventional restaurants) and the availability of meat and dairy substitutes in supermarkets.  While the overwhelming majority of people are still carnivores, adopting a plant-based diet is no longer on the freakish fringe of lifestyle choices.

Using Google books Ngram Viewer, a digital tool that can track the historical frequency of words in a database of about six million books, it’s possible to see how the concept of meatless diets has advanced in our culture in recent decades. The charts below are roughly indicative, tracking several relevant terms:



Ngram veg track


Although “vegetarian” appears to dip after 2000:





Ngram Vegetarian to 2008

Rising concerns about the impact of meat consumption on animal welfare, the environment and health have no doubt played a role in increased public interest in plant-based diets. But despite this trend, global consumption of meat is accelerating because of increased demand in Asia.

Animal activists, environmentalists and health advocates promoting lower meat consumption have their work cut out for them.

VHS is committed to encouraging a plant-based diet and lower meat consumption to help end factory farm cruelty and reduce animal suffering and slaughter.

Check out our Eat Less Meat program.



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VHS bus ad now on Metro Vancouver routes

087Our ad “Food, Friend, Why?” is now on Translink diesel buses throughout Metro Vancouver.  The ad raises an important and provocative moral question: why do we eat one animal and befriend another? Most of us wouldn’t dream of eating a cat or a dog, but when one considers the intelligence and sentience of farmed animals, it doesn’t make sense to consider cows or pigs or chickens as somehow so different.


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




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Food, Friend, Why?

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

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

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

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

link to donate now at

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

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

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A Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

By Debra Probert, VHS Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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