#Veganuary 2016 – Do you need help?

Dear You, Are you interested in trying to go vegan for 2016 or even just to try it out in January 2016? There are lots of resources out there and I’ve collected a few of them on this page. Also, please feel free to email me if you have any questions or need support along the way, especially if you’re in Toronto, since that’s where I live, and that’s one of the main cities I know. (but this is an open offer to anyone anywhere.) I went vegan in the late 90’s. I was young and living in Alberta, which even to this day has a bit of a reputation of being meat-heavy (though Edmonton is amazing for vegan options). It was a bit strange to be the only vegan I knew in real life, but that’s still not a completely foreign experience for people even with our changing world. Veganism is more and more common, and it’s easier to find food and friends than ever before, but you can still encounter resistance or misunderstanding and it can be frustrating, especially in the beginning, when you discover that many people, including people you respect and love, don’t see the world the same way you do. So feel free to reach out by email or by twitter or on facebook if you ever need a quick word of encouragement, a restaurant recommendation, an ingredient replacement, or something else in the veganism sphere. Be nice to me and I’m usually pretty friendly 🙂 Resources in Toronto…

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Toronto Vegan Holiday Gift Suggestions 2015

For the last few years I’ve been trying to put together a vegan-friendly gift guide, with a focus on local items and charities. Usually, I put out one post, with everything on it, but we’ve gotten so full of options, that yesterday I started with the Vegan Holiday Menus that are available in our dear city, and now on to the gift list. This is, of course,  not all encompassing, since it’s limited by what I’ve found myself, but I’ve tried to poke around as much as time allows. Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments. Gift Baskets I’ve seen a few prepackaged gift baskets around the city from vegan or vegan-friendly vendors. so I’d like to start with those (in alphabetical order) D-Beatstro D-Beatstro has a variety of fun looking gift baskets that are mostly priced under  $35. Packages that feature teas (blended by their in-house herbalist) or coffee or hot chocolate packs. There is something for everyone on your list, just pay them a visit.  Forbes Wild Foods This Gift Basket Includes: Single-source Ontario Maple Syrup, Pure Birch Syrups, Wild Forest Mix, Wild Balsam Fir, Wild Spruce Tips, Wild Mushroom Mustard, Wild Canada Plum, Wild Strawberries, Wild Saskatoon Compote. If you ever go to any of the Toronto Farmers Markets, you’ve probably met someone from Forbes Wild Foods selling preserves, mushrooms, and other (mostly) foraged plants & fungi from nature. They also have a variety of other smaller baskets too Live On Chocolate’s – Truffle Gift Boxes Pre-order one of Live On Chocolate’s Organic fair-trade raw vegan…

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Toronto Vegan Holiday Menus, Events, & Meals 2015

For the last few years I’ve been trying to put together a vegan-friendly gift guide, with a focus on local items and charities. Usually, I put out one post, with everything on it, but we’ve gotten so full of options, I’m just going to start with all the Vegan Holiday Menu’s I’ve found so far. Tomorrow I’ll post more gifty items and suggestions found and made around the city, I’ll also link to a variety of other general vegan gift guides from this year. Much like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, we’re leaving the city for a little while over the holidays and to celebrate my birthday, but some of these locally made menus totally have me salivating and wishing I could get them earlier! Holiday Menus Several vegan bakeries and restaurants are offering special holiday menus this month – most are focused on Christmas, since pick up tends to be well after Hanukkah is over. All of this is subject to change, and for up to date information, please contact the restaurant/bakery/store directly. In alphabetical order: Apiecalypse Now! Pizza and Snack Bar You can pick up an order form in store, or print out the above form and bring it in or email them. Or call them. (calories@apiecalypsenow.com/phone: 416.516.4555) They’ve got Holiday Pies: Apple Pie with a Shortbread Top Organic Pumpkin Pie Mixed Berry pie with sugar pastry top Squares: award winning magic squares gluten free fudgy brownies Other things:  Pulled turkey (made with…

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Brunch at Cosmic Treats, Toronto

This weekend we finally checked out Brunch at Cosmic Treats. I haven’t been in there since they opened, but JC brought me a few of their baked goods shortly after they opened. and I liked ’em. But we decided to actually go and eat inside since they are so much more than a candy and ice cream shop. Kensington showed its friendly face to me in the street with a random stranger bullying me on the sidewalk. After that, I was ready to just go home and stay home for the day or week. But instead we walked into to Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and drank soy lattes while I pretended to read books for about two hours before Cosmic Treats opened for brunch. Cosmic Treats opens at 11:30 am, and we stood there like hungry cats in the rain (except there was no rain, and you should really keep your cats indoors at all times anyway) until a line up of other hungry people formed behind us. I considered scratching at the door, but resisted. They let us sit a bit sooner than they were ready, and the restaurant filled up steadily after the door opened. But frankly, I liked them a lot and I think they could be busier. We started with a couple of hot chocolates with marshmallows and the Sweet Chili Heat Doritos encrusted fried tofu. Which was delicious as you might expect. It came with a bbq sauce. I ordered the All Day Breakfast, which…

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Alo Restaurant – Anniversaries with a Vegan Tasting Menu

Last week JC and I went to Alo Restaurant to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and the other exciting things going on in our lives: a promotion, a new and growing business, my growing belly (p.s. I’m pregnant), and so many wonderful little things that have added up over the last couple of years. It’s nice to be here in this place in life, and that seems like something worth celebrating. I like tasting menus because they tend to be indulgent, not in quantity, but in terms of showcasing a chef’s pride and work. Plus it’s fun to splurge on a fun meal and experience (Oh and The Process, The Process!), and I’m woefully indecisive so it’s perfect for me to have a variety of thoughtfully prepared dishes come out one by one (as long as they’re vegan). JC had had read a review in the Globe and Mail earlier this month that mentioned “vegan tasting menu available with 24hrs notice,” so he sprang into action, and thoughtfully made reservations for our anniversary while I was still wondering if we should do anything at all. Alo Restaurant has been open since sometime in July, and from the reviews I read before heading in, has been a wonderful and spectacular success – so we had to find out for ourselves. Would they make vegan food with the same passion as their other creations? Sadly, I wish I could show you better pictures, but as luck would have it, my favourite food camera lense (yes, I have one) broke a few days…

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Memories of Sadie’s Diner in Toronto

We ate our last meal at Sadie’s Diner last weekend. Sadies is was a vegan-friendly meatless restaurant that had been open since 2006, but now it’s closed. I’ve always seen it as an institution in Toronto and was a little surprised it wasn’t open even longer, but it probably helps that I have never known a Toronto without Sadie’s. Sadie’s Diner was one of the first vegan-friendly restaurants I went to in Toronto on my first 48hr visit to Toronto back in 2008, and was one of the first spots I visited when I arrived in 2010 (on the post-university “visit” that has extended to the present.) Known for their all-day-breakfasts, bright teal diner tables, and a huge wall of Pez (the owner Al is a serious collector), this spot did more than serve food – it was home to fundraisers, and art shows and community meetings, and more, and I hope that there will be other local vegan businesses that pick up the torch on the Vegan-Food-For-Charity front, because that level of thoughtfulness and community involvement will be missed. I remember the very first Chili-For-Charity fundraiser I attended (which was also the first time JC and I went to Sadie’s together) back in April 2011 – for ARK II, an organization I’ve since joined as a director. It was my first time meeting the folks involved with ARKII and learning more about what they do. I even won a wallet and a t-shirt from the raffle. Anyway, farewell to Sadie’s, and best wishes…

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Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage – Then and Now.

As you might know, last year in September, Field Roast’s tasty vegan sausages became scarce, and hard to find. Why was that? As JC and I learned at the Vegetarian Food Festival, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada had taken issues with how Field Roast product fit within current food regulations, and banned them. Two things needed to happen before Field Roast would be allowed to sell in Canada again, they needed to: label their product as a “Simulated Meat Product” do a Protein Efficiency Ratio study, which at the time they believed required live animal testing. (they later found out there was an approved alternative that did not involve animal testing.) You can read the whole story here from Field Roast. Anyway, fast forward to 9 months later.  They actually did all of these things (using the non-animal alternative method of course.) They redid their labels, added pea protein, and a vitamin fortification mixture to meet Canadian regulatory standards, and announced they were coming back to Canada. You can read more about that over at the Field Roast Blog here. But they view these as temporary measures and this experience with the CFIA and Health Canada triggered the creation of the Plant Foods Council – a trade association of  food manufacturers who make vegan products similar to traditional animal products such as meats, milks, cheeses and butters. The goal of the Plant Foods Council is to work to update Canadian food labelling regulations and promote the health and ecological…

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Home After Austin – Good Bye Vida Vegan Con – Day one

It seems like only a week ago I was boiling in the Austin, Texas heat… probably because it was merely a week. How time flies by when you’ve got your head buried in a computer trying to get the final pieces together to launch a business. But more about that eventually. As we were driving down to Niagara VegFest yesterday, JC put my coffee in a Vida Vegan Con One mug, and I got all nostalgic. Heading to @niagaravegfest & feeling nostalgic about last weekend in Austin. This mug is from the very first @vidavegancon in pdx. The organizers really started something special with VVC, and I’m grateful to have been able to participate and to meet so many of you there. #vegan #vidavegancon A photo posted by MeShell (@veganinyourcity) on Jun 7, 2015 at 7:52am PDT It’s been a weird week, but mostly a productive one, despite being in a travelling daze for a few of those days. Looking back at the weekend in Austin – I’d say it was something special. Especially after some time to decompress and reflect. Getting the opportunity to meet and talk to so many incredibly wonderful people in the real world is powerful. It’s so meaningful. I used to happily say I lived on the Internet, but as time has passed, I have to admit that while I live in both worlds simultaneously, I’m finding the real life connection and conversation thing to be just a bit more fulfilling. I am so grateful to…

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SukhoThai – Downtown Toronto

In between the Brewer’s Plate (a celebration of local food and beer and fundraiser for the Greenbelt) last week and going home we grabbed dinner at Sukhothai near St. Lawrence Market. SukhoThai called to us with its sign, a combination of needing a substantial meal after pickling ourselves in local brews at the event for a couple of hours, and curiosity about what I’d find there. JC had visited Sukhothai before for lunch and knew there was at least one vegan dish on the menu. I asked our server when we sat down what our options were – and she said all of the curries could be made vegan (unfortunately, with the exception of my favourite style – the massaman), and all of the pad thai noodle dishes, just let them know. We started with the fresh salad rolls, which were filled with all of the deliciousness you might expect from salad rolls (like mango, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, basil, carrots) , and cut up in convenient two bite pieces. It was a great appetizer and I’d definitely recommend it (and I’ll certainly order it again). JC and I both ordered the Sukhothai Pad Thai, since it’s their “Sukh’ed up” Northern Thai version of pad thai. No matter where we go for pad thai it’s always different, but in many ways always the same. This one was nice and saucy, with good noodle separation. I ordered spicy, but I didn’t realize they also had a “Thai spicy” level – next time…

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Meet Up/Food Swap in Toronto

Once upon a time there was a Canadian Vegan Food swap, and it was fun to do a nationwide thing and trade with people that were complete strangers in other provinces and cities. BUT a friend (Sarina over at Earthgiven Kitchen) recently did a local food swap with a meetup group in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I thought it might be fun to try that as a little experiment here too. So. If you’re interested, send me an email with the following information: Your Name: Preferences: Favourite Colour: Allergies: Fun Fact: Blog/Twitter/Instagram?: I will partner you up with someone randomly, and we will meet up on June 4th between 6:30pm and 7:30pm at Bloomers, in Toronto to do the exchange OR you and your partner can pick a time that’s more convenient for you. Here’s how it works: 1) If you want to participate, send me an email with your information ASAP – No later than May 15th. 2) You don’t have to be vegan to participate, just interested in veganism, trying new foods and meeting a new friend! But the contents of your swap box/bag/etc must be vegan. 3) I will email each of your your swap partner’s information by May 21. 4) You have a few weeks to put together a gift box of vegan fun items. I suggest we keep the gift limit to $20. 5) You’re not limited to food – other ideas are teas, soaps, homemade gifts, etc. 6) Send me pictures, post pictures on instagram with the tag #veganfoodswapTO…

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