Learning to Cook Vegan in the Forest City

I can’t cook....or should I say, I don’t cook.

Before joining the VegFest London committee, I was unfamiliar with the vegan options available in the city. As a new vegan, it was even more challenging to put meals on the table. I blamed London – if this city had vegan cooking classes available, all my problems would be solved! So when I noticed a Facebook post on the VegFest London page announcing that there would be vegan cooking classes offered by the City of London through the Spectrum Recreation Program – I had no choice but to register!

I attended three different courses – The Vegan Pantry, Vegan Cooking 101 and Vegan Italian Cooking—all taught by the talented (and patient) instructor, Heather Pinsky. Heather is the owner of the Naturally Vegan Company, located at 630 Dundas Street in London, which offers vegan products, catering services, cooking classes and more. Heather even serves a delicious vegan lunch on Fridays from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

The Vegan Pantry class was an informative two hour session where Heather outlined all the essential foods, spices and tools needed for a well-stocked vegan pantry. Along with all the obvious baking and cooking basics needed in any pantry, the vegan pantry requires some unique items, like tofu, vital wheat gluten, and nutritional yeast. There’s a bit of a learning curve for those new to veganism, and information like this really helps!

The four weeks of Vegan Cooking 101 were packed with recipes and fun. Each night vegans and non-vegans worked together to create some tasty and sometimes challenging recipes, which were enjoyed by all at the end of the class. From Tofu Triangles to Buffalo Cauliflower, Lasagna Rolls to Breakfast Burritos, we covered it all. And don’t forget dessert—chocolate cupcakes, apple crisp, almond pound cake, just to name a delicious few!

These classes are great fun and you go home with all the recipes. If you’re looking to gain confidence in the kitchen and great new vegan recipes to add to your repertoire, consider registering for the spring course, starting April 13. Just go to www.London.ca/PlayYourWay or call 519.661.5575 to speak to a Customer Service Representative. Or check out www.NaturallyVeganCompany.com for more information about Heather’s classes.

Written by Susan Campbell, VegFest Committee Member

A Cupcake for Every Occasion

If you attended this year's VegFest London, chances are when you walked in, your eye was drawn to the tables full of colourful vegan cupcakes or maybe you were one of the first 500 people who received a swag bag, with a sugar cookie inside. Either way, it's safe to say you met our friends at The Boombox Bakeshop and enjoyed at least one of their sweet treats.

The Boombox Bakeshop is the brain child of Alexandra Connon. With a love for baking, passion for music, and the support of family and friends The Boombox Bakeshop was born. Boombox is a veg-friendly bakery and cafe specializing in vegan goods and gluten free vegan goods- ranging from their signature cupcakes, pop overs and mini pies to other delightful seasonal surprises. Learn more about the boombox bakeshop and read our interview with owner, Alex, here.

Holiday Menu

With the holidays quickly approaching you may be looking to save yourself some time, but still wanting to wow your guests. Lucky for you Boombox offers cupcakes, specialty cakes and many more sweet treats for all occasions and they just happen to have a special menu available for the holidays. Today is the last day to order for pick up for December 23.

Some of their many holiday treats they've been baking

Custom Cakes & mORE

The Boombox Bakeshop offers custom cakes, cookie sandwiches and sugar cookies, whether you're planning a birthday party, wedding or just really like cake and cookies, they've got you covered. With cake flavours like mint condition (a VegFest London favourite), I want candy, cookies n' cream and salted caramel to name a few, you can't go wrong. Check out their blog for a sampling of the awesome creations they've made.

Connect with the boombox:

Instagram - @theboomboxbakeshop
Twitter - @boomboxbakeshop
Website - boomboxbakeshop.com

If you haven’t been to the boombox bakeshop, add it to your list of places to visit in London. Their funky and colourful shop is a sweet place to hang out and they serve up a selection of hot and cold drinks from local companies like Patrick Beans and Booch Organic Kombucha.

What’s your favourite cupcake flavour? Share in the comments below. 


Cheery Cherry Harvest Vinaigrette

A cheerful alternative to raspberry vinaigrette using cherries! 

Recipe designed by: Sandra Venneri, BSc, PHEc of Nutrition Bites Consulting


  • 2 cups of pitted cherries (sweet or tart/sour)
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup or ice wine (preferably red!)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (optional, to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp of ground pepper (optional, to taste)

Variations (Use one or a combination of them) – Add another layer of flavour!

  • Herb: 1 tsp of fresh chopped parsley or cilantro/coriander
  • Ginger: 1 tsp of ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
  • Citrus: Add 1 tsp of orange, lemon or lime juice


1. Chop by hand or use a food processor/blender to blend cherries to a pulp.  Set aside.
2. Place the rest of ingredients in order as they appear into a salad dressing cruet or container.(A funnel helps.)
3. Add blended cherries into cruet.
4. Shake and serve.  Refrigerate any extra dressing for up to 7 days.

Servings Per Recipe: 1 cup of dressing or 16 servings of 1 tbsp (15mL) each. 



This recipe is featured in the newly launched Growing Up Healthy Organic Seed to Fork Kits. The kit that puts the connection between food, cooking and healthy eating for all ages and stages. Seed kits are very affordable and available online at nutritionbites.ca/growinguphealthy.

More healthy & vegan recipes can be found at Nutrition Bites Consulting website at nutritionbites.ca. Nutrition Bites is a local business that provides nutrition education to children, adults & businesses through personalized coaching, cooking lessons, mindful eating workshops, special events & speaking engagements. All questions and inquiries are welcome through the website or by emailing the owner, Sandra Venneri, at sandra@nutritionbites.ca.

Nutrition Bites Consulting: Helping you get healthier in little bites . . .

Copyright with all rights reserved. You're welcome to share the recipe but remember to give credit where credit is due - to the author and re-post with permission using this link to the original post: nutritionbites.ca/recipes/cheerycherryharvestvinaigrette/

Plan your visit to VegFest London 2016

VegFest London sprouts up in just ONE WEEK
Saturday, November 12 from 10 am - 6 pm

This year VegFest London is home to even more vendors, more speakers & more activities for children. To help you make the most of your festival experience (and by most that includes trying all the epic vegan food), we've put together this guide to ensure you have the best possible day at VegFest London.


VegFest London takes place at the Progress Building, Western Fair District at 900 King Street in London. There is tons of free parking and our veggie mascots look forward to greeting you. Need directions? Click here, we've got you covered.


Two stages and our an awesome children's area full of fun and interesting presentations for all to enjoy. All guest speakers and cooking demo presentations will take place in the Progress Building. Seating is limited for each of the sessions so arrive early to save a seat. Click here to learn more about our speakers.

Stage # 1 Schedule
10:30-11:30 am: Dreena Burton - Raising plant-powered children
12:30 - 1:30 pm: Emily Von Euw - Living and eating the rawsome vegan way! Food demo
2:30 - 3:30 pm: Doug McNish - Preparing a Holiday Meal Cooking demo

Stage # 2 Schedule
11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Dr. Linda Plowright - Food For Thought: The Importance of Nutrition for Mental Health
1:00 - 2:00 pm: JoAnne McArthur & Dr. Keri Cronin - Unbound: Women on the Front Lines of Animal Advocacy
3:00 - 4:00 pm: Jenna Goodhand - Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet: Where To Start No Matter Where You Are Beginning

Children’s Area
12:30 - 1:30 pm: Edible Art with Growing Chefs! Ontario
2:00 - 3:00 pm: Rob Laidlaw - Children’s Presentation: Amazing Elephants and Other Animals

Special thanks to Rose Cora Perry, our festival emcee. Learn more about Rose.


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Over 100+ vegan food and product vendors, health and wellness vendors and animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations, such as Purdy Natural, Booch Organic Kombucha, Plant Matter Kitchen, Boombox BakeShop, Rescue Dogs vegan hot dog cart and two awesome food trucks McVegan and Sweet Teeth Vegan, all in ONE PLACE for this ONE DAY! Check out our full vendor list here.

Come hungry and ready to shop. If you feel like you need to relax in between visit the Plant Matter Kitchen Dining Area or the Booch Lounge. 

This is the place to be on November 12. PLUS we even have a fun activity planned to ensure you visit all of the festival areas.


VegFest London is powered by plants and 100% volunteer power. We open our doors for free each year to invite the community in. You can support VegFest London and help our festival continue to grow by purchasing some sweet festival swag, making a donation onsite or by clicking here. Visit the VegFest London booth to purchase your swag.


Sweet coupons and goodies fill these awesome bags and the first 500 attendees at VegFest London will get one. You'll have to arrive early though as these go fast.


Thanks to our friends at Rebirth we have a whole area dedicated to kids, filled with face painting, colouring and more. The children's area is open all day from 10 am - 6 pm and don't forget to check out these two special presentations happening in the children's area:

12:30 - 1:30 pm: Edible Art with Growing Chefs! Ontario
2:00 - 3:00 p.m: Rob Laidlaw - Children’s Presentation: Amazing Elephants and Other Animals


We encourage everyone to bring their reusable shopping bags and containers for your food and drink that you purchase. This helps make the festival even kinder to the planet, plus the bigger the container the more food you can get, so it's a win win. Also some of our vendors will only be handling cash sales, so if you plan to shop bring some cash. There is an ATM onsite too. On your way in you can pick up your festival program so you can be sure you don't miss a beet.

P.S. VegFest is even more fun with friends. So bring your whole squad and strike a pose at the Purdy Natural Photo Booth.

See you on November 12! We believe in a kinder world & we know that you do too!

Natural Beauty with Purdy Natural

Top ingredients that you should avoid in your skincare, makeup                                         and personal hygiene products

Our largest organ, our skin, absorbs and incredible amount of unnecessary toxins everyday from our environment. UGH.

The promises many conventional products make carry with them cheap, unknown chemical fragrances, artificial colorings and chemical preservatives. These harmful additions tax our beautiful bodies immensely forcing it to have to work extra hard. Ain’t no body like working extra hard if they don’t have to?!

Eventually, the toxic load adds up and changes the appearance of our skin hair and nails.  The accumulation in our bodies can contribute to fatigue, chronic ailments, and lasting disease. 

Is there an alternative? Hellz yeah there is. 

Become informed.  Read your labels and avoid the major offenders. Read books, watch videos, listen to experts. Knowledge if power.


To aid in our collective health and wellness, we are sharing a list of the top ingredients that you should avoid in your skincare, makeup and personal hygiene products, because we love you. 

To aid in our collective health and wellness, we are sharing a list of the top ingredients that you should avoid in your skincare, makeup and personal hygiene products, because we love you. 

  1. Diethanolamine (DEA): A lathering agent in soaps and shampoos, DEA isn’t carcinogenic by itself, but can react with other chemicals in products to create a carcinogen readily absorbed into the skin. Look for DEA in many forms, such as Cocamide  DEA, Oleamide DEA and Lauramide DEA.
  2. Formaldehyde: A frighteningly common ingredient in a variety of beauty products. Formaldehyde can irritate your eyes, nose and throat, dry out and irritate your skin and even cause asthma and cancer with repeated exposure.
  3. Parabens: Have had a lot of press lately and we are seeing more product specifically labeled “paraben free.” This is because parabens, in their many forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) have been linked to breast cancer as well as hormone disruptors. The FDA claims that parabens aren’t dangerous at low levels, but when you consider that 25,000 different cosmetics and skincare products contain these chemicals, it’s feasible to build up quite an exposure in a lifetime.
  4. Phenylenediamine (PPD): An ingredient used in hair dyes (including eyelash dye), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has run studies that show a higher incidence of cancer among hairdressers & estheticians; they have the highest PPD exposure. Although PPD is not approved for products that come in contact with the skin, hair dye usually gets on your forehead or ears for up to 30 minutes. Why take the risk?
  5. Fragrance: Because of an FDA loophole, cosmetic companies can hide a whole slew of chemicals, many of which are phthalates, under the label “fragrance.” Avoid this ingredient like the plague.
  6. Propylene Glycol (PG): Is a colourless, nearly odorless, syrupy liquid that is derived from natural gas. It is used in dozens of products that you commonly use around your house. Some websites and natural product promoters argue that PG is a nasty, carcinogenic chemical that has been wrongly green lighted by the FDA. The FDA, and others, say that their claims are completely unfounded - that PG is completely safe when used properly. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware, these are related synthetics.
  7. Phthalates: The subject of much controversy because of hormone-disrupting- phthalates being found in plastic baby bottles and teethers, let’s not forget that they’re a common ingredient in cosmetics, too.
  8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): An inexpensive, harsh detergent used in many products for its cleansing and foam-building properties. Often derived from petroleum, it is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the phrase “derived from coconuts.” SLS and SLES are skin irritants and can enter the heart, brain and liver through the skin and accumulate in these organs. It greatly dries out your skin, is not recommended for sensitive skin and causes eye irritation, scalp, dandruff, skin rashes ...the list goes on and on....
  9. Toluene: Found in nail polish and hair dye, this is a nasty one. Toluene is toxic to the nervous system, and breathing it in can cause dizziness and headaches. High exposures can lead to birth defects and miscarriage. Look for toulune-free brands of nail polish instead.
  10. Hydroquinone: A skin-bleaching ingredient, hydroquinone is banned in Japan, the European Union, and Australia, but it’s still in use in North America and other countries worldwide. Hydroquinone is found not only in skin-lightening products, but in creams to lighten age-spots as well. There’s some evidence that hydroquinone is a carcinogen, and is linked to ochnronosis, a condition in which grayish brown spots and bumps occur on the skin.
  11. Petrolatum: Also known as petroleum jelly, this mineral oil derivative is used for its emollient properties in cosmetics. It has no nutrient value for the skin and can interfere with the body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dryness and chapping. It often creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. Also found in baby oil!
  12. Triethanolamine (TEA): TEA is used to balance PH and is a common ingredient in “gentle” cosmetic products, but unfortunately it’s been known to cause allergic reactions, is an eye irritant and can cause dry hair and skin. With consistent use, TEA is absorbed into the body and accumulates, where it can become toxic.
  13. Aluminum: A common ingredient in antiperspirants, aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease.
  14. Talc: Talc is a soft mineral used in talcum powders and cosmetic powders.  Scientific studies have shown that routine application of talcum powder to the genital area is linked with a three-to-fourfold increase in the development of ovarian cancer. Inhaling cosmetic powders containing talc may also be harmful to long term health.
Whether you are making your own products at home or buying chemical free skincare and personal hygiene products, you are getting a vote with the dollars you spend. Little by little this will change the way companies behave and the way regulators use language.

Visit Purdy Natural at 111 Mount Pleasant Ave, London ON for a huge selection of locally made natural products, made with the highest quality ingredients. Purdy Natural is free from parabens, fragrances, perfumes, dyes, and harsh chemicals. Click for more info



Know what’s going in your skin.