Where can a vegan eat on Bloor Street?

I tried a little something different for my cheat last week.  Instead of the Friday night to Saturday afternoon sweet binge, I planned a last minute food-venture down Bloor Street in Toronto; hitting a number of spots I’ve been meaning to check out.

Just one quick rant before I get into all the amazing things I got because I came across this saltiness more than once…  The reason why someone might ask if something or everything on your menu is vegan, is because outside of the city, the rest of us in the GTA don’t have access to the quality and quantity of fresh vegan eats that you do.  We are used to going over the menu with a fine tooth comb for the one or two vegan options, to asking the waitress to confirm with the chef that there are no animal ingredients in our meals and we never assume that when something says ‘cheese’ if DEF means non-dairy cheese.  No matter how many times you get asked this question you should answer with pride…

Knowing that you are part of a business that is not only successful financially but also in spreading a message of kindness and compassion for all living creatures.

So leave the saltiness at home.  Okay.  Rant over.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

My first stop was Rawlicious.  While there were a few things I wanted to try, I needed to save room and just ordered the sliders.  They were alright but TBH I think I’m just not a raw type of girl.

Next up was Apiecalypse Now!  I was (and still am) drooling at their vegan pizza but I was more interested in treats on this visit.  Specifically donuts.  I love me some fucking donuts but I haven’t had one since going vegan, so you already know what it was about when I walked in there and laid my eyes on their selection.  I got the Cookies ‘n’ Cream donut.  Fuck.  Sooooo good.  I also grabbed a Simpsons donut which literally looks like the donut from the Simpsons with the pink glaze and the sprinkles.  No pic as evidence since I ate it in the car when I got back to Sheppard West Station and ended up with a pink disaster all over my face, my lap and the driver’s seat.  Ooops.

Next stop was Bloomer’s.  I had the Rose Pistachio donut and a ginger soda.  There was a ton of other things I wanted to try here but again, I needed to save the room.  All kinds of proper food and I’m DEF going back.  Not to mention that there was a pretty big seating area, it was air conditioned at a comfortable temperature and had a giant garage door which was closed but I can imagine just how chill that spot is in the evening.  Anyway, back to the Rose Pistachio donut…  THIS.  THING. WAS. THE. SHIT.  Just omg!  Fucking heaven.  So much pleasure on my face as I ate it that a girl standing at the counter noticed and pointed it out to me – so embarassing but we had a giggle about it.   If I visit no where else again, I will fo sho visit Bloomer’s (again and again).

My last bakery stop was Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery.  They also seem to have a pretty good selection of donuts, though as I was there late in the afternoon, there wasn’t much left.  I had my fill of donuts at this point though, and settled on one strawberry and one tiramisu tart.  Both were delicious but I prefer the tiramisu, probably just because that’s another dessert I haven’t had since going vegan.  I’d visit here again but earlier in the day so I could have my pick of the donuts.

The last two places I visited were Good Rebel vegan grocery and The Vegan Imperative.  We’ll get into the goodies I picked up there on a later post!

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The vegan ‘food-venture’ route

Yah I’m Vegan… And I don’t drive a hybrid!

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Photo by Jeffrey Valerio

Or an electric car.  Or the transit.  Or a me powered bike.  So many misconceptions when people find out that I’m vegan.  As if there is only one way for me to be vegan?!?!?  And of course the expert on this one way is going to be someone who isn’t even vegan?!?!  Or more importantly someone who isn’t even me.  Sure.  Seems legit.

The car thing is just one of them.

“Oh, okay.  You’re vegan, but you still drive a car.  So…”

Ummmmm.  TF are you even talking about?!?!  I guess because I am vegan – for the animals, for my health, for the environment or any number of reasons, which of course this ignorant mofo has already decided my reasoning without asking me…  Then it must follow that I should live off the land or only shop at farmer’s markets, also be a minimalist, zero waste and be the most perfect, angelic, green, zero carbon footprint chick ever.  That means I should not, ever drive a car, which of course is polluting and destroying the environment, ruining it for our children (well your children since I’m not having any).

Yes.  I drive a car.  A regular, old car that runs on regular, old gas.  That only recently became old enough to require emissions testing and clearly passed as I’m still driving it.

I’m vegan and I drive a car.  Because at some point most vegans were meat eaters and I’m one of them.  I would love to own a more environmentally friendly vehicle (and will in the future) but I’m not going to get rid of my car and buy a new one now because I’m vegan.  Nor would that be financially feasible and is a complete waste at this time since my beautiful Daytona is still running just fine.  Nor is it necessary as just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean it’s for or just for the environment.  And it def doesn’t mean that you get to dictate what being vegan means to me or how I choose to fit my choices into my lifestyle.

So yes mofo, I’m vegan and I don’t drive a hybrid.  TBH, my values are my own and I couldn’t give zero-er more fucks about what you think about them.

What’s the best non-dairy milk for…

What’s the best vegan milk? For smoothies? In coffee? For frothing?

img_3348I’m not going to pretend I’ve tried every vegan/non-dairy milk out there but I have tested a fair bit in the last few years.  The ones that stick around please me on three levels:

  1. They taste good on their own and taste good in/do not change the taste of what I’m putting them in (in a way that I don’t like).
  2. They are reasonably priced and available at the places I shop.
  3. They serve a special purpose, for example frothing for specialty drinks as well as a standard purpose – I’m big on value proposition.

The Winners

#1 for taste

If you’re drinking milk on its own, for your cereal, or with/dipping your cookies into it, my number one choice is Earth’s Own Almond SoFresh.  My preference is the unsweetened original.  It’s got a clean, earthy taste that doesn’t change the flavour of what you’re eating it in or with. The texture is not too watery but not too thick and creamy either.  It’s basically the just-right-goldilocks scenario of non-dairy milks.  I add two cubes in the glass because I like it extra cold and it’s also good with Bailey’s Almande if you’re looking for a sexy treat.

Best in smoothies

If I’m making a green smoothie, I prefer the almond milk.  This is because while I like my green smoothies with milk over water, I don’t like them too thick.  Now if I’m making a fruit smoothie, a smoothie bowl or an icy drink to cool down in the hotter months, I like Earth’s Own Cashew SoFresh.  It’s thicker than the almond milk but not too thick that it makes it more difficult to drink my smoothie out of a straw.

I’ve got love for Silk products too but I find all of their milks just a bit too thick for my liking.  That said, if thick milks are your jam then hands down Silk CreamyCashew is the way to go.  Creamiest of all the nut milks I’ve tried thus far.

Best in Coffee

If you’ve already seen my Instagram post than you know what’s up.  Silk Vanilla Almond for Coffee is the best thing to happen to my caffeine addiction since ever.  I’ve tried the regular nut milks but they don’t quite have the texture (even the Silk ones) to replicate a dairy creamer.  This guy however does it seemlessly and without changing the flavour of the coffee for the worst.  I don’t want coconut flavoured coffee all the time!  Plus the vanilla taste is enough that I can forgo any additional sweeteners.  Bonus, they also have a hazelnut option which can be a great alternative to International Delight or Baileys coffee creamer if you’re into that stuff.

Best for Frothing

img_3347No matter what the brand is, soy milk seems to froth the best.  Keep in mind, some brands of soy milk froth even better than others – I’ve tried other brands in my
Lavica frother
and had no issue, but even when I fill below the max line I’ll get an over flow with Silk soy milk.
Now to save myself from having too many different types of milk taking up space in the fridge (and to save money) I will use the Earth’s Own Almond SoFresh for lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolates.  I’m still able to get a substantial amount (image right) of foam despite it being less than what I could get out of a soy milk.

 

 

How going vegan accelerated my journey to live life more authentically

stocksnap_ishaui7epzBack in high school when I lacked self-esteem and didn’t know what the word confidence meant, I still saw myself as someone who was organically me.  Sure, I felt that there were things about me that made the boys not look at me the way I wanted them to.  I also had zero desire to change the way I was because how exhausting would that be?  Trying to be someone else all the time.  Nawww.  Couldn’t do it.  As I got older, wiser, stronger, I became even more unapologetically me.  That meant losing friends and most of the time being perceived as a weirdo but I’m cool with that.  If you have a choice (and you do), why not choose to live your life as authentically you as possible?  That’s what I felt I was doing.  Until almost a year and half ago when I watched a documentary; Cowspiracy.

The details aren’t important right now.  Just know that this documentary led me down the path of questioning…

Was I living my life according to my values?

I wasn’t, but until that moment I believed that I was.  I believed that I was being the only me, the most honest, organic, authentic me possible.  That was true and also not true at the same time.  Questioning my values about and my treatment of animals made me question other aspects of my life.  It had been so easy for thirty plus years for me to ignore something that I felt so strongly about.  To ignore something that when I took just a few minutes to think about it, a real talk, focused, no scrolling through Instagram think about it, I knew right away that I had been doing something I felt was inherently wrong.  This led me to ask…

What other values am I ignoring?

As the weeks and months passed, I began to and continue to address that question.

Becoming vegan made me think about minimalism.

Not just minimizing stuff, but relationships, people, time.  It made me question my return on time.  My return on energy.  Made me say no to more things.  Made me say yes to more things that were important to me.  Made me see the value in my own skills; confidently speaking up when I can add value and keeping quiet when I can’t.

Becoming vegan made me think about the direction of my life.

Am I living the life I want to, making choices because I want them for myself?  Am I with the people I want to be with?  Am I who I want to be or at least on the way to who I want to be?   I’ve always felt that how I make my money is more important to me than how much money I make.  Without veganism I wouldn’t have picked up on the nudge from a recent @garyvee Instagram story, which reminded me that feeling it and living it are not the same.

Becoming vegan makes me more open.

If it didn’t, I wouldn’t have been receptive to minimalism, to thinking critically about the direction of my life, to thinking deeply about the things that I say to myself over and over again but haven’t actually been living and breathing.  It makes me more fearless.  It makes me more inclined to do things that are uncomfortable.

Having such strong feelings, attitudes that are less popular means that I’m often under fire.  I’m asked to defend my values; myself.  Yah!  They’re one in the same.  My values ARE myself.  I used to be reluctant to put them out there.  I don’t attack anyone for their life choices and I don’t impose my choices on anyone else.  If you ask me why I choose to live my life this way, I’ll tell you.  If you throw punches, you better believe I will light you up in a millisecond.  It’s easy.  So easy because it’s authentic to me.  I’m passionate about it because I’m passionate about me and now that I’m on this journey, I can’t imagine living any other way.