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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Rochester, NY – Vive Bistro and Bakery

We spent a weekend in north-west New York State, around Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Hamburg and Rochester. We were in Rochester last summer at the end of our massive Summer Road Trip, but of course, I still haven’t posted about that part, since it was on our way home – so, I have nothing to link to yet! Oops. This time around we went to a few spots around Rochester – Lori’s Natural Foods Market, Vive Bistro, & Pour Coffee Parlour. Lori’s Natural Foods (Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority, 900 Jefferson Rd,) is a very vegan-friendly market, and the largest independent grocery store in Rochester, NY. They have a fantastic selection of various veg products that you might not see at your local  NY Whole Foods or Wegmans – for example we picked up one of the new NY style Daiya Cheezecakes (which I’ve had before during ExpoWest, and I’ve been told will be launching in Canada in the Fall), large packages of Primal Strips vegan jerky, assorted Miyoko’s Creamery Cheeses, Earth Balance potato chips, and so much more. They also have a great selection of fresh produce. They also carry local vegan items like stuff from Pudgy Girl Bakery, and they carry products from Eat Me Ice Cream (which make a dairy based and coconut milk variety of ice creams), they also have vegan friendly grab-and-go items in their cooler. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I totally recommend visiting the market. Lots of fantastic stuff to see and try, with the added bonus…

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So Delicious Dairy-Free Cashew Ice Cream

You’ve probably seen one or two of these new So Delicious Cashew based ice creams appear around the city. If not – they’re popping up everywhere – check the fridge at your local grocery. So, last week I received a box of three So Delicious Cashew Ice Creams (or, sure,  CFIA, “non-dairy frozen desserts”) –  Creamy Cashew, Salted Caramel Cluster, and Dark Chocolate Truffle. And two of the new-to-Canada CocoWhips. The package was hand delivered by a courier, and contained dry ice and branded So Delicious gloves – for safety, of course, and my own personal joy – they may or may not also be perfect for gardening. Anyway. I tell you this because it was an exciting package to receive, and to let you know that I’m already a fan of many of the So Delicious products, and to disclose any potential biases I have. You decide! I’ve tried and reviewed the CocoWhips before, while I was in the USA, so for now, I’m going to focus on the ice cream for this post – however, I do want to see if there are any difference between the countries and products (since those kinds of variations really interest me.) On to the Ice Cream Dark Chocolate Truffle I expected to love this one, but I didn’t. It might not have been at it’s best, flavour-wise it was delicious – as ribbons of dark chocolate in chocolate ice cream will be, but texturally, was tougher to dig into, and not as pleasant as the others. Despite…

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Niagara VegFest – 2015

Niagara VegFest kicks off the Vegfest season for me. I realize there is the Toronto Raw/Vegan Festival that same weekend, but driving down to the Niagara VegFest is always a nice opportunity to visit a few spots around Niagara Falls, NY too. The nice part about our occasional drives down to southern Ontario and northern New York State is that St. Catharines and the route to it and the area around it has become so familiar (in a good way.) We knew there was parking near the St. Catharines Farmers Market building just down the street at this massive (and free) public parking lot (so if it keeps happening in the same spot, and you didn’t know about this, now you do!) We arrived while things were already in full swing, and the first person I saw was photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur at her booth with cards and prints of her incredible work. She was also selling copies of We Animals, which is a beautiful and incredible touching heartbreaking powerful book I’m glad to have read the night it was launched. Jo-Anne is also working on a new project with Dr. Keri Cronin (who happens to be one of the founders of Niagara VegFest) that you should check out called Unbound – which is a  multimedia and book project that aims to recognize and celebrate the women at the forefront of animal advocacy – in both a contemporary and historical context. It’s a long term project, but you can follow along on facebook too if you want to. I know…

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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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Notes from VVCIII – Science is Awesome – Matt Rusigno

I wanted to share some of my notes from day one of Vida Vegan Con and some of the talks I attended. On day one – I went to Matt Rusigno’s talk Science is Awesome! – Why we don’t need to exaggerate health claims about veganism.   Matt Rusigno started off by telling us that with everything he says he’s coming from an ethical vegan perspective, but has concerns about  concerns about the positioning of veganism and ridiculous health claims, and will tell us a few things we might not agree with, but things that are based on the current available scientific evidence. Difficult truth: Reality is that there are people that have had great results from paleo. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26003334 Nutr Res. 2015 May 14. pii: S0271-5317(15)00097-4. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.05.002. [Epub ahead of print] Paleolithic nutrition improves plasma lipid concentrations of hypercholesterolemic adults to a greater extent than traditional heart-healthy dietary recommendations. There is very little research comparing vegan athletes vs non-vegan athletes, and very difficult to design a study showing clear connections (how to define vegan vs non-vegan, starting point in fitness, etc) Looks at The Potato Diet – 60 days of potatoes Result was weight loss. Cholesterol, blood glucose all went down. Other ridiculous diets – like twinkie diet, and more. (also had positive impacts on some basic bio measurements like cholesterol, blood glucose, etc) Dangerous and ridiculous facebook page shares – energy frequency food vibration pyramid (whut?!) We’re very influenced by our own experiences and often actively seek out evidence that supports…

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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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Breakfast at Home and Clever Rabbit – Roadtrip 2014

I’m still writing about our Summer Roadtrip in 2014 – so far in our story we had just arrived in Edmonton the afternoon before, and planned to visit my parents for breakfast the next morning. My parents had just come back from a trip to Poland, so I was looking forward to seeing pictures and hearing a few stories about their trip too. (also – I like souvenirs.) My mom also made us waffles – but I didn’t have the wherewithal to take a photo until the last waffle as you can see above in all of its glory. Over the last few years my mom has become an especially incredible vegan cook (because she follows a primarily plant based diet) – so it’s always nice to come back and get a tasty home cooked meal. It’s actually quite tough being away from my parents, flights to Edmonton from Toronto are usually quite expensive, and it’s not always easy to find time to get away, so I was happy to visit back in the summer of 2014 and also a month or so ago. We’d see each other again a few times on this visit, but it was nice to have breakfast with the family like old times, and have JC join us. They of course told us about their beautiful trip to Poland, where there was more vegan friendly stuff than you might expect – which was especially relevant to my mostly-vegan mom. Places like Krowarzywa – a vegan burger spot and Veg…

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The Thai on Bloor – Toronto

Thai food has always been one of those foods I gravitate towards – especially being vegan. Yes, everyone talks about hidden fish sauce, but it doesn’t happen often, and from what I’ve been able to tell most of the time when I go into a restaurant people have been honest with me (even if it means they lose a sale.) We live near High Park, and a relatively short walk away from Roncesvalles, which has a couple of vegan friendly Thai restaurants (The Friendly Thai and Thai Chef Cuisine) and since moving to the neighbourhood we hadn’t branched out much beyond those familiar two. One evening I walked by The Thai on Bloor from Keele station. It’s one of those wonderful stumble-upon a place on foot experiences that are so rare with the internet dictating so much of my eating habits these days – but The Thai had a big chalkboard sign outside, and one of the items was “Vegan Options Available.” Just this line was enough to make me feel optimistic, they used the V word, but looking at the menu got me feeling excited. A whole glorious vegan page of dishes, with some meats even. I put The Thai in my mental “To Eat” list and moseyed on my way home. Finally, a friend and I paid them a visit for the first time a month ago, I had the Spicy Curry Soy-Shrimp. It’s meant to be eaten with rice, but I skipped that so it didn’t seem like much…

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Rose City Kitchen – Downtown Toronto Vegan Options

So when we went to the grand opening of Smash Juice Bar a few weeks ago, I hadn’t realized there were three businesses opening up. And I didn’t realize any of the others would have vegan options. I asked the folks at Rose City Kitchen on Twitter the usual question, which they answered quickly and helpfully. @mdgee @thebigjc Yes they are! #Vegan4Life #FalafelsForever — Rose City Kitchen (@RoseCityKitchen) April 20, 2015 JC and I had agreed we’d go back there together for lunch sometime, but the timing kept not working out – so he went earlier this week and got a falafel in a pita (and seemed to like it) so when I found myself in the neighbourhood today at the perfect (lunch) time of day, it looked like it was my turn for tasty falafel box. There is now actual seating (vs high top tables with no chairs) at Rose City Kitchen/Smash Juice Bar/Clockwork Coffee at 36 Toronto Street, so you can sit and relax (with long tables, bench seating, and chairs.) I ordered the RCK Original Falafel – which is humus, tabouleh, fresh cut fries(!!!), carrots, lettuce, garlic oil, and cherry harissa dressing. You can get it as a sandwich or a box meal (served on either rice or kale.) I went with the box meal on rice – grabbed some extra hot sauce and harissa from the counter and also a bottle of cherry chia kombucha from Smash Juice Bar. Service was fast and friendly, they answered my in…

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