The Plant Matter Movement: The Growth of Vegan Philosophy, Cuisine, and Discourse in The Forest City

Written by Kre'Adiv House

As the vegan movement grows worldwide, so too does it grow in Southwestern Ontario’s Forest City.

The Plant Matter Movement—represented by three booming restaurants and their passionate founder/owner Glenn Whitehead—is always finding new ways to educate the community, contribute to the growing accessibility of vegan options, and encourage the discourse around plant-based eating and living.

The Plant Matter Philosophy

 Photo Credit: Property of Postmedia

Photo Credit: Property of Postmedia

Glenn’s vision for Plant Matter Kitchen (PMK)—as well as Plant Matter Bistro (PMB) and Plant Matter Cafe (PMC)—has always been to create a hub where vegans and non-vegans alike (from London and surrounding areas) could come together, break bread, offer up cheers, enjoy conversation, and celebrate the prospects of a healthy, vibrant, supportive, and engaged community.

With every passing year, Glenn has come to realize that achieving success has meant never wavering from his core ethics of protecting animal rights and ensuring food safety and security. In his nearly three years of restaurant ownership, Glenn’s envisioned philosophy from day one has remained steadfast: creating high-quality food using the best possible ingredients from local sources will appeal to everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike.

 “We've seen many people's minds change about their perceptions of vegan food,” says Glenn about the growth of the Plant Matter conversation. “More people are embracing the vegan lifestyle. Many entrepreneurs continue to push this market as there are lots of new and emerging vegan places opening.”

 “The community,” Glenn adds, “has become more vocal, more activist-minded. The awareness of the truth behind our food is becoming increasingly harder to avoid, and as a result, we’re seeing drops in sales of animal products across North America.”

The Plant Matter Restaurants

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The growth of the Plant Matter restaurants is indicative of support for the vegan lifestyle in London; all three restaurants continue to partner with local food and beverage companies, are now working with Skip The Dishes, welcome guests who travel from out of town to experience the Plant Matter menus, and strive to give back to the community in whichever ways they can—proving they are about more than food, and are committed to supporting the diverse vegan community.

What do Canadian Olympian Meagan Duhamel, vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke, and the band Elliott Brood have in common, other than being vegan? They’ve all supported PMK! Aside from its famous dinners, PMK also offers event catering, has a Meal Plan program in the works, has added Beyond Meat’s renowned Beyond Burger to the menu, has given back to various local charities and non-profit groups, has helped host Taste of Vegan London, has recently partnered with Green Goddess Guelph, and hosted a Pre-Festival VegFest dinner party for the third year in a row.

The sleek, New York-style PMB that will soon celebrate its first anniversary, has participated in local events that give back to the community (including Health Kick LDN and The Shoe Box Project), hosts a Meatless Monday challenge, has a new fall menu on the horizon, and is offering discounts to Fanshawe College and Western University students, specials on bottles of wine on Wednesdays and draught beers on Thursdays, and a two-can-dine Friday date night special.

PMC, the newest and most casual of the three, offers specialty coffees with a Canadian flair, such as The Coconuck: PMC’s signature “double-double,” has a grab-and-go refrigerator loaded with fresh lunch items each day, and is home to the recognizable table where Glenn and Marty Menard host their hit podcast Two Reasonable Vegans.

The Plant Matter Approach That Sprouted A Podcast

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As a way to expand the plant-based discourse (and all topics that involve animal rights, environmentalism, and activism), Glenn has collaborated with his longtime friend and fellow vegan activist Marty Menard in a new project: Two Reasonable Vegans* (2RV).

This podcast serves as a medium through which they discuss, argue, and debate everything from current events and art to food and business, all through the lens of veganism—sometimes with guests, often with foul language, and always with passion and conviction.

Their first podcast, which shone light on a local issue causing a rift in London’s restaurant community, was launched on June 18, 2018. Since then, 2RV has released 10 additional episodes, launched a website and social media pages (Facebook and Instagram), and host their podcast across various platforms (SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher).

Hosts Glenn and Marty have been interviewed on radio shows (NewsTalk 1290 CJBK and, spoken at events (VegFest Windsor and VegFest London), welcomed world renowned activists Earthling Ed and James Aspey to their table, and developed a growing audience that values plant-based eating and living—so involved that they stop Glenn and Marty on the streets to say hello!

For Glenn, this podcast is “a way to speak further to veganism as a social justice issue.”

When asked what 2RV means to Marty, he responded: "As an educator and news junkie, I wanted to help create a show that explored the science, ecology, and socio-economic impact of plant-based living. 2RV is a show where no subject is off limits and opposing points of view are welcome to the table.”

Stay tuned for Season Two, which is sure to be as riveting, controversial, foul-mouthed, and passionate as Season One!

Glenn and the Plant Matter restaurants are excited to be contributing to the vegan movement and to be changing the vegan landscape in London through their philosophy and their food; they hope to be able to continue to serve an evolving plant-based community in a variety of facets for many years to come.

Be sure to visit the restaurants’ websites for more Plant Matter updates and tune into the 2RV podcast when the new season airs.

 * The podcast episodes available on this website contain coarse language.

Announcing the 2018 VegFest London Guest Speakers!

VegFest London is so excited about this year's speaker lineup! There is a massive amount of knowledge, wisdom and passion among them and we couldn't be happier that they'll be rocking our stages come November 10. Without further they are! (Check back later in September for the schedule.)



Genesis Butler is an 11-year-old animal rights advocate who went vegan on her own when she was 5. Genesis has attended numerous demos to protest against animal testing and entertainment venues that exploit animals. At the age of 10, Genesis presented a TEDx talk on animal agriculture and its destruction of the planet. She is featured in Vegan Everyday Stories and The Invisible Vegan. In 2018, Genesis established her non-profit organisation, Genesis for Animals, to raise funds for animal sanctuaries around the world. She also speaks regularly at various vegan and non-vegan events discussing the benefits of veganism.

In Genesis’ talk, she will share her vegan journey and will provide insight she has learned along the way that will inspire others to live a compassionate life and advocate for animals whether you are 3 or 93!



Instagram: @aveganchildsjourney

Twitter: @GenesisButlerV



Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977, John grew up in St. Louis, MO. At a young age of 13 John found himself at 315 pounds, but through hard work and dedication he lost the weight and excelled in football and basketball. He continued his streak of athletic excellence throughout his high school and college years in McCluer Senior High in the heart of Ferguson, MO. and Harris-Stowe State College respectively. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, he later went on to pursue his MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. John’s education in business coupled with his love for health and fitness gave him the ability to start his venture – BadAss Vegan.  

As a well renowned fitness expert, John Lewis has spent over a decade in the health and fitness industry. John is highly passionate about not only his own health and fitness, but that of others as well.

In addition to his extensive knowledge in body sculpting and contouring, what makes John one of the top national fitness consultants is his creative ability to understand and live a vegan lifestyle while maintaining a physique that is commendable. In essence, he is able to cater to a diverse group of individuals and his services are highly sought after as he masterfully creates and develops personalized, unique and healthy life changing plans.  



Instagram/Twitter: @badassvegan

 Photo credit: Michelle Cehn

Photo credit: Michelle Cehn


Toni Okamoto is the founder of Plant-Based on a Budget, the popular website, food blog, and meal plan that shows you how to save dough by eating veggies. She’s also author of The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook. Plant-Based on a Budget has been featured in Reader’s Digest, US News and World Report, and more. Toni’s also a regular presence on the FOX affiliate in Sacramento, where she teaches viewers how to break their meat habit without breaking their budget, and was featured in the popular documentary What the Health. Toni is a burrito enthusiast, and spends her free time swing dancing across the county.

Toni will talk about how affordable, easy, and delicious eating a plant-based diet can be, how you don’t have to shop at specialty grocery stores or restock your pantry with all kinds of unfamiliar products and substitutes, and, most of all, how you don’t have to sacrifice time, taste, or money in the pursuit of healthier, tastier eating.


Instagram and Facebook: @plantbasedonabudget

Twitter: @plantbasedblog

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James Wildman is the Humane Educator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. Since 2007, James has given over a thousand presentations at over a hundred different schools and universities in South Florida, teaching respect and compassion for animals and the environments we share. These presentations have reached over a hundred thousand people, empowering youth and adults to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. His "101 Reasons to Go Vegan" video has been translated into 18 languages and has over 4 million views total on YouTube. James was also featured in the 2017 documentary Food ReLOVution. He has worked with youth for 20 years, and in 2006, he obtained a master's degree in Humane Education.

James’ talk, 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, is a humorous and honest look at diet and culture that highlights the benefits of a plant-based diet for our health, the environment, and the welfare of animals. It’s an ethical examination of our food choices designed to empower people to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. A 10-minute version of the presentation was recently posted on Facebook and has generated over 40 million views.



Twitter: @animalrightsfl


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Camille Labchuk is a leading animal rights lawyer, and executive director of Animal Justice—Canada’s only animal law advocacy organisation. Under her leadership, Animal Justice fights legal cases in courtrooms across the country, works to pass tough new animal protection legislation, and ensures laws already on the books are being enforced.

Camille’s work includes filing false advertising complaints against companies making misleading humane claims, like Canada Goose; documenting Canada’s commercial seal slaughter; and exposing hidden suffering on farms and zoos through undercover investigations.

Camille is a frequent lecturer on animal law, and her work has been featured in countless media stories.

Most people are outraged by stories about animal abuse, yet paradoxically, Canada has the worst animal protection laws in the western world. But with animal issues currently grabbing news headlines, it has become impossible for the legal system to ignore their suffering. Camille’s talk will explore the legal status of animals in Canada, how each of us can play a role in improving the laws protecting them.



Twitter: @CamilleLabchuk, @AnimalJustice

Instagram: @camillelabchuk, @animaljustice



Susie Coston is the National Shelter Director of Farm Sanctuary and has been working with animals used in food production for over 23 years. Besides overseeing the caregiving team at all of the Farm Sanctuary’s shelters Susie has worked to advance individualised medical care and treatment and made tremendous strides in the field of farm animal medicine. She shares her wealth of knowledge with other farm animal advocates acting as a mentor to many peers who have started their own sanctuaries. Susie strives to create a world where animals are seen as the complex individuals they are.

Susie will talk about the role of farm animal sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are not just about rescue, since with over 56 billion land animals slaughtered worldwide annually we cannot rescue our way out of this problem. But what we can do is tell the stories of the victims of animals in food production and pull them out of those billions and show their individuality. 



Twitter/Instagram: @farmsanctuary

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Yoda is the chef and owner of Yoda’s Kitchen - the small but mighty plant based catering company! She’s been cooking in London and area for 11 years and took her love of vegetables and compassion for animals to the next level when she decided to launch one of South Western Ontario’s first plant based catering companies. She’s working on a cookbook memoir and loves spending her spare time writing, reading and playing with her dog.

Chef Yoda will be talking about aquafaba - the magical bean water than you can use to replace eggs in a variety of recipes. Aquafaba is a relatively new discovery, and is hard to believe how it works until you see it with your own eyes. Come learn how to use it as a replacement for eggs in sweet & savoury applications, and watch as Yoda turns chickpea water into beautiful meringues!



Twitter and Instagram: @yodaskitchen

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Caterina Lindman is a retired actuary, with over 35 years of experience in the insurance industry. Caterina is recognised as a leading actuary in Canada and internationally in the area of climate change research and sustainable healthcare through whole-food plant-based nutrition. She led the volunteer committee that helped develop the Actuaries Climate Index. She is also involved with Actuaries for Sustainable Healthcare, a group that educates actuaries about the benefits of whole-food plant based nutrition as a way to prevent and reverse chronic disease. Eating plants is also a key way to mitigate carbon emissions, sequester carbon and preserve biodiversity.   

Caterina will be talking about why eating a whole-food plant-based diet is kind for our planet, in comparison to our current, industrialised, animal-based food system.



For 29 years Amanda made judgements, evaluations and demands on those around her without realising she was contributing to violence in the world. After working an ‘adult job’ for a few years she went into a ‘what is this all for?’ cocoon and emerged as a penniless, hippie who decided to hitchhike across Europe, India, Canada and the US on a quest to learn about peace. After causing her family a few sleepless nights and minor heart attacks she is here today to talk about how we in our everyday words and actions can build empathy, connection and peace.

Come to Amanda’s talk to cultivate empathy and connection from a focus on meeting needs rather than the cultural prescribed framework of punishment, rewards and enemy images. Discover the latent judgements, evaluations and demands in our everyday interactions and get in touch with the actions and words which enrich life and grow peace.



Summertime Recipes for Easy Living

Ah, the joys of summer! We’re all a little more relaxed. Life is a little less intense. With the long days, it seems like we have more time on our hands. Many of us naturally tend to lighter, simpler fare in the kitchen during these warm summer days. The VegFest London committee members are sharing here their favourite easy breezy vegan recipes for all to enjoy. Have a wonderful summer!


Banana Protein Smoothie

Recipe by Amanda

1 banana

3 dates

1 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp hemp hearts

1 cup almond milk (add more depending on desired thickness)

2 tbsp raw cashews (optional)

2 strawberries or a few raspberries for colour

4 ice cubes

Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth.


Alfredo Sauce

Recipe by Joan

1/2 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance

227 g cream cheese (try Daiya Chive & Onion Cream Cheeze)

2 cups nut milk (an almond/cashew blend milk works well)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup parmesan cheese (try the Oh She Glows recipe here)  

Parsley or cilantro for garnish

Heat butter, cream cheese and milk on the stove until blended and smooth. Then add garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir until well blended, then add the parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Pour over your favourite cooked pasta, sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Easy Cheesy Caesar Dressing

Recipe by Amanda

This dressing tastes great with a romaine & kale salad. It can also be added to wraps and roasted potatoes!

1/3 cup soaked, drained raw cashews

1 tsp chia or flax

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/3 cup water

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

1 ½ tsp agave (or maple syrup)

In a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.


Jude's Summer Salad

Recipe by Teresa

It's the perfect time of year for this fresh easy dish because it calls for fresh corn and tomatoes. It can be eaten as a salad or served as a salsa with nachos.

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 ears of corn cooked and taken off cob

1 can of black bean, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups chopped and seeded tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 chopped avocado (optional)

salt and pepper

Mix liquid ingredients together. Mix non-liquid ingredients together. Combine everything and serve.


Ice Cream Sundae

Recipe by Krista

Who doesn’t love an ice cream sundae in the summer?! Check out Krista’s delicious recipe here. As she says, it’s so wholesome that you can even eat it for breakfast…


If you are new to veganism, this is an exciting time in your life! Whether you were drawn to veganism for animal rights, health or the environment (or all three!), it may take some time for you to figure things out and find your way. What will you eat? How will you avoid wearing leather goods? How will you explain your decision to family and friends? Be patient with yourself and trust us, everything will fall into place.

There are many resources available to inform and guide you in this journey. The VegFest London committee members have assembled here some of our top picks…the films, websites, podcasts and books that stand out for us because they inspire and influence us and give us a deeper understanding of the breadth and depth of veganism’s significance. Some resources simply make our day-to-day lives easier and more enjoyable (think awesome vegan recipes).

We’ve divided them into four categories: Learn & Be Inspired, Vegan Starter Kits, Fun & Fabulous Food, and Beauty & Fashion. The list barely scratches the surface of all that’s available…so it is perhaps merely a starting point for your exploration. We wish you an amazing journey. We're rooting for you!


Vegan Organizations

Mercy for Animals

Animal Ethics

Vegan Philosophy

Eat Like You Care (book)

The Case for Animal Rights (book)

Puppies, Pigs, And People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases (essay)

Animal Sanctuaries

Farm Sanctuaries in Ontario

Karuna Lane Sanctuary

Critical / Social Justice/Activism Organizations

Food Is Power

Sistah Vegan

Afro Vegan Society

Anonymous for the Voiceless

The Save Movement

For Answering All the Questions You’ll be Asked by Friends & Family When You Go Vegan (and Answering Your Own Questions Too)

The Animal Rights FAQ  

Carnism Debunked

Your Vegan Fallacy Is

Books & Websites about Plant-based Nutrition and Health

See London Public Library vegan books.

How Not to Die

Nutrition Facts

Becoming Vegan

Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness

Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness

Children’s Books

That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things

Vegan is Love: Having Heart & Taking Action

V Is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind

Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids

Blogs & Magazines

Brown Vegan

Accessible Vegan Adventures

T.O.F.U. Magazine

Chick Pea Magazine

LAIKA Magazine

Veg News


The Livegan Podcast

The Bearded Vegans Podcast

Our Hen House Podcast

Main Street Vegan Podcast

Nutrition Facts Podcast

Easy Vegan with JL Fields

Documentary Films


On Netflix (and elsewhere):

·         What the Health

·         Forks Over Knives

·         Food Choices

·         Food Inc.

·         Cowspiracy


Vegan Cookbooks & Recipe Websites

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed

Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face

Oh She Glows (we like the app too)

Forks Over Knives Recipe App

Sweet Potato Soul

Fuss-Free Vegan: 101 Everyday Comfort Food Favorites Veganized

Vegan Everyday: 500 Delicious Recipes

Plant Powered Families

Minimalist Baker

Eating Out or On the Road

Refer to our blog posts Firmly Rooted: Celebrating London’s Established Vegan Eateries ,New Places to Eat Green in the Forest City Area and Vegan Travel Hacks.

Happy Cow

Alcoholic Beverages

Barnivore (vegan beer, wine and liquor guide)

Online Vegan Food and Supplies

Vegan Supplies (filter for vegan)


African American Vegan Starter Guide

PETA Vegan Starter Kit

PCRM Vegetarian Starter Kit

Veganuary Vegan Starter Kit


Beauty Products

Learn about and look for the Leaping Bunny and Cruelty-Free product label logos.

Vegan Beauty Review

Purdy Natural (lots of vegan products)

Kat Von D Beauty


Matt & Natt

Pixie Mood

Moo Shoes

Nice Shoes

Firmly Rooted: Celebrating London’s Established Vegan Eateries

We’re spoiled in London with many exclusively vegan spots to enjoy fabulous food. Perhaps more than our fair share compared to other cities, but we’re not complaining one bit. We love to support and encourage them…we watch their every move and get so excited when they shine. These passionate business owners are on a mission to put an end to animal cruelty, one awe-inspiring and liberating vegan forkful at a time.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at vegan hotspots for eating, drinking and living the green dream…

For those of us with a sweet tooth, The Boombox Bake Shop knows no bounds when it comes to ridiculously delicious vegan cupcakes. We featured this thriving business in this post shortly after they moved to a bigger location mid-2017 to meet growing consumer demands. It’s hard to imagine London without Boombox. 

Plant Matter Kitchen threw open its doors in early 2016 and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. This beloved Wortley Village restaurant serves up breakfast, dinner and lunch. Did you know they are now offering the wildly popular Beyond Burgers?! They also host monthly charity dinners for like-minded organisations in our community. See our feature blog post here.

While we were still outright dazzled by Plant Matter Kitchen, sister restaurant Plant Matter Bistro launched downtown in 2017. The Bistro is a sophisticated fine dining experience, serving lunch and dinner using organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. It’s absolutely geared for the foodie in us!

Then the next thing we knew, this year The Ground Up Cafe teamed up with The Plant Matter family to create Plant Matter Cafe. This Richmond St. location focuses on breakfast (opening at 10 am), soups, wraps, salads, pizza and baked goods. And did we mention the amazing coffee, offered with a variety of plant-based milks? 

Curley Brewing Company, a vegan craft beer café, is re-opening its doors soon at a new location: 1634 Hyde Park Road. We can’t wait for their small batch brews, as well as house made soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods and kombucha.

Globally Local is on a mission to veganize the fast food world. They started with Canada’s first all vegan fast food restaurant, then with Canada’s first all vegan drive through. And wherever Globally Local sets up its wildly popular food truck, there are sure to be long line ups for its iconic Famous Burger.

London not only has an amazing array of vegan eateries but is also home to companies that sell exclusively vegan food. Here’s a look at what’s been going on lately:

In addition to the highly rated vegan cooking workshops, Naturally Vegan now has a “Little Vegan Cheese Shop” at the Covent Garden Market at Sacred Earth. Seven days a week, you’ll find a variety of cheeses there like Fauxmagerie Zengarry, Sheese Cheese, Main Vegan Deli and VegNature. 

Yoda’s Kitchen is back, better than ever! There’s not only private catering services, but also a delivery service of meals and snacks called Yoda’s Little Green Food Co. Then there’s monthly pop-up restaurant events, and in-home cooking classes. Such joy…

London’s beloved Nuts for Cheese knows no bounds. These delicious hand-crafted cashew-based cheeses can now be found at a multitude of stores across Canada.  Go Nuts for Cheese!

Main Vegan Deli’s tagline, “Convenience with a Conscience” speaks to us. This company offers artisan nut cheeses and deli meat alternatives at a growing number of locations in Southern Ontario. In London look for their products at V Spot (see our blog post featuring V Spot here) and Naturally Vegan’s Little Vegan Cheese Shop. You can also shop online. Have you tried their Dill Havarti or Chive and Onion Chedd-ahh? How about their Bakon or BBQ ribs? We’re getting hungry just thinking about Main Vegan Deli. 


The goal at Great Veggie Bites is to help people and the planet become healthier by providing a plant-based menu of truly classic comfort foods. We're talking cabbage rolls and 'Big Phil' Philly CheezeStakes, to give you an idea. And they deliver right to your door (for free in London and the Strathroy area)!

Whew, that's it for now! London's options are awesome, right? We're very grateful for all these amazing vegan businesses and the courageous, dedicated entrepreneurs behind them. And we're confident that their successes will continue to build as we march forward toward a more compassionate future.