VegFest London Blog

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.

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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.

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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…

NEW TO VEGANISM

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!

LEARN & BE INSPIRED

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

Podcasts

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

Dominion

On Netflix (and elsewhere):

·         What the Health

·         Forks Over Knives

·         Food Choices

·         Food Inc.

·         Cowspiracy

FUN AND FABULOUS FOOD

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

Well.ca (filter for vegan)

VEGAN STARTER KITS

African American Vegan Starter Guide

PETA Vegan Starter Kit

PCRM Vegetarian Starter Kit

Veganuary Vegan Starter Kit

BEAUTY AND FASHON

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

Fashion

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. 

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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. 

New Places to Eat Green in the Forest City Area!

Have you noticed some of the fun new veg-friendly restaurants sprouting up lately? Eating vegan out has never been so easy, or so tasty. We're excited to share some highlights from three new spots...two in London and one is neighbouring Stratford. They are absolutely drool-worthy!

Origins Co.

Welcome Origins Co.! Origins coffee shop opened its doors in January in London, at 140 Ann St. near Richmond and Oxford. With predominantly vegan fare on the menu, we're excited for this friendly and health-conscious grab-and-go coffee shop.

If you are looking for a warm drink, they've got a custom blend organic coffee, and a portion of every Origin’s Custom Blend coffee sales help support the Strathroy Woman’s Rural Resource Centre for abused women. Soy lattes are divine; almond and coconut milks are also available. For tea drinkers they offer a Matcha Green Latte as well as organic, Fair trade pesticide-free blends. Then there's the Golden Turmeric Latte! It sounds delicious.  

Origins offers vegan and gluten free fresh juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls, as well as Boho bars and doughnuts, kosuma bars, brownies, date squares, cookies, mini muffins, pad Thai salad and power bowls. 

Peter Cuddy, the owner, hails from Organic Works Bakery. Consistent with his vision and values, Origins offers quality ingredients that are ethically harvested, non-GMO, organic and locally sourced where possible and all in a convenient grab & go format. Note that they have ample free parking. 

Their large outdoor patio and walk-up takeout window will be opening soon!   

The Planet Diner

The newest kid on the block is The Planet Diner! It’s in Stratford and opened only a couple of weeks ago. With their tagline, “Where Herbivores can bring their Carnivores”, this little diner aims to meet people where they are in their approach to eating. They are making it easy for guests to experience delicious plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs.

Their specialty is satisfying comfort food, especially brunch. Even brunch for dinner! As in a vegan, gluten free benny, on sautéed-onion crispy polenta with marinated grilled tomato and house made cashew hollandaise sauce. Count us in. Or there’s a loaded burger or saucy pulled pork sandwich. But save room for the plant-based baking! And other desserts like the Naughty Waffle: warm waffles drizzled with chocolate sauce, a scoop of deliciously creamy cashew ice cream, strawberries and coconut whip. Need we say more? 

The Planet Diner collaborates with local growers and as many of the Stratford area resources as possible. In a city renowned for its culinary culture, we foresee The Planet Diner filling a much needed spot for vegan and gluten-free options. It strives to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with the aim of welcoming us back, time and time again.

V Food Spot

This downtown London vegan gem has become entrenched in the hearts of customers in an amazingly short period of time. It’s a take-out only food spot specializing in plant-based comfort foods. Think perogies topped with cheese sauce, tempeh bits and caramelized onions with a side of sour cream. Or their beloved Rueben sandwich. How about some decadent French onion soup to warm our souls?

They also sell fabulous donuts, house-made sauces and dips, along with Main Vegan Deli products.

Happy vegan eating everyone!

Why Community, Compassion, Plants?

For many of us, the road to veganism is a journey. We take different paths and progress at a pace that makes sense for us. We learn a lot along the way. It is an evolution. Some of us initiate the change for one particular reason, and later find ourselves connected to and motivated by a different reason. It is the nature of this peaceful, meaningful and empowering approach to living.  If you haven't noticed by now, our festival motto is community, compassion, plants. Though the plants connection might be obvious, we thought we'd share the important WHY behind our festival and motto...

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Animal rights

Since the use of animals is unnecessary for humans, people motivated by animal rights seek to avoid all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. They recognize the individual beings behind every animal slaughtered for human consumption.

An unbelievable 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide and 6 million animals are killed every hour. It has been extensively documented that factory farmed animals, who are sentient beings, commonly suffer based on the methods by which they are raised and slaughtered. 

There are animals who die as part of the animal industry and who will never be available for people to eat. The culling of male chicks as part of industrialized egg production industry is an example of animals who are dying needlessly. Millions of unwanted male chicks – the offspring of egg-laying hens – are discarded every year because they do not lay eggs and are thought to be too small to be raised profitably for meat. Since they have no economic use to the industry, the chicks are often culled without anesthesia by methods including maceration and suffocation.

At VegFest you'll be able to meet and connect with farm sanctuaries and animal rights organizations. You’ll see here that we have an outstanding line-up of animal rights speakers, plus an Animal Rights Activism Panel discussion.

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Better health

Half of all North Americans are dying due to cancer or cardiovascular disease.  You probably know someone who has suffered from these diseases. Their quality of life may be diminished, they may be living in fear, and are likely relying on multiple medications to get them through each day. Now imagine a world where the incidence of these two devastating diseases was significantly reduced. This is possible through eating a plant-based diet focussed on unprocessed food, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates here that a third of cancer deaths are preventable through five lifestyle choices, one of which is high fruit and vegetable intake.  WHO also indicates most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented if we address behavioural risk factors, including an unhealthy diet.  

And that is just the beginning.  Think type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and depression. There is a growing body of scientific evidence linking plant-based eating to the prevention, treatment and even reversal of these and many other common and disabling illnesses. WHO notes that a healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. Interestingly, animal products are not included. The healthiest and longest-living populations in the world are plant-based. 

At VegFest you'll be able to sample and taste plant-powered cuisine and even listen to talks on various aspects of diet and health given by Dr. Linda Plowright, Robert Cheeke and Teresa Ford.  Check out the speakers schedule here.

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Concerns about the environment

You may have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause. Surprisingly, eating a more plant based diet is one of the most effective things we can do as individuals to positively impact the environment. Reasons are related to increased water use and greenhouse gas emissions with animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is tied to the destruction of the amazon. And land is used more efficiently when growing plant-based food compared to meat production. Links to the research and science behind this information is here.

We'd love to know, what's behind your WHY? What made you choose vegan?