2019 was a good year for the vegans in Vancouver, and I’m stoked for the next 10 years.
I wanted to give props to some of the businesses that emerged this year that ushered in the vegan movement in a great way, and a few that were too irresistible not to be mentioned.
1. Bonus Bakery
I admit I secretly envied all the downtown workers in the financial district that got first dibs on this all-vegan bakery earlier this year, located right next to T***p Tower. By the time I went on a weekend afternoon, some of the pastries were gone but I got to lunch on chick’un (Gardein-based) & waffles. The winner though: Their signature chocolate chunk Oreo cookie with a salty pretzel on top and marshmallow in the middle. Also, for the coffee nerds, they have EVERY TYPE OF PLANT-BASED MYLK and I wanted to chant “Hallelujah!” when I saw those pitchers. Guess who the secret is behind the baked goods here? A fellow WOC (woman of colour), Monica Tang of Level V Bakery.
2. Flourgirl Baking
There’s no classic like a good cinnamon bun. And even though croissants and donuts started to come onto the scene pretty quickly in Vancouver, there was a gap in the cinna-bun market until this little business came along. Run by duo Mitch & Diane (who are always super nice, btw) Flourgirl made an appearance at tons of markets this year — including selling out at the Vancouver Vegan Festival this summer. They not only offer the classic bun in various types of icing (regular, soy-free, cream cheese), but also seasonal sweet and savoury flavours. Find them at these retailers or you can order them by delivery straight to your mouth. Smart moves: Not naming the company after a pastry, so they can expand and bake ALL the things eventually.
3. Vancouver Vegan Festival
There have been vegan-only events in town, but none as successful and impactful as this summer’s first Vancouver Vegan Festival, co-produced by The Vegan Project, Peaces, and Peace People Project (ALL FEMALE vegan superheroes, btw). The event was filled with Vancouver’s best vendors (many of the food ones with long lines, but worth it!), high vibe music, and renowned speakers, including James Aspey, most known for taking a year-long vow of silence and cycling 5000 km across Australia to raise awareness for animals and promote peace over violence. I’m already looking forward to the 2020 festival and am sending sunny mojo to the weather gods.
4. Native Shoes
As if Native Shoes wasn’t already dominating the shoe market — from cruelty-free, easy-to-wash kicks (my all-time fav is the Jericho) to cute baby sandals and mud-worthy boots — they came out with The Plant Shoe, a 100% biodegradable (commercially compostable) sneaker they claim as the first in the world. If you don’t believe it, Reebok announced their own plant shoe just two weeks ago. The style’s a little too beige for me, but I love Native’s The Remix Project that offers 10% off a new pair of shoes when you bring in your worn ones to a retail location. By 2023, they’re hoping all of their shoes will be 100% life-cycle managed. This is one brand I’m glad calls Vancouver home!
5. Kind Cafe
It’s funny because right after Kind Cafe opened in my Main Street hood, it was my non-vegan peeps who kept going back. Not only do they have SO MUCH sweet and savoury choices, they’re a zero waste facility which means you can bring your own take-out containers and cups, even dishes and cutlery if you wanted to! They’ve maxed out the two levels leaving LOTS of dining space and also space for events. I love the long community table, and every day from 4-6pm they have $4 beers & ciders, and $10 flatbreads. Even though I went in for the carrot lox bagel, my picks were the Kale Caesar and Tempeh Reuben (your gut will thank you for the sauerkraut). They also have a Blue Lavender latte I have to try, and see how it compares to Olive & Ruby’s Black Sesame Rose Latte. Two previous businesses did not prevail in this location, but my prediction is more Kind locations, and in other cities across North America. You heard it first here!
While Beetbox was created by the owner of Vancouver’s infamous fried chicken joint, Juke Fried Chicken, I gotta give them mad props for transforming their former Juke location on the West End (Davie near Thurlow) into a plant-based fast food diner that saw lineups during opening week. If you manage to get a seat, expect good tunes and hipster decor. Their onion rings are solid, and while I didn’t enjoy the Chick-un Sandwich as much as I’d hoped, they have a ton more items I’m going to eventually try. Don’t want to commute and wait in line? Get it delivered straight to you.
Coming soon: A plant-based pizzeria at 3240 Main
Don’t Argue! Pizzeria on Main had vegan options, but instead of mourning them I’m looking ahead to what’s going to be a plant-based pizzeria owned by the same group as Via Tevere, which is already one of my fav pizza places in the city. With unlimited options for toppings and that hearty Neapolitan-style crust, I can’t wait to see how they’ll compare to their competitor up north, Virtuous Pie. If they can make a great margarita with vegan cheez and three handfuls of arugula on top, I’ll be in love.
Which brands will slay the vegan movement in 2020? Only time will tell!