VegFest London Blog

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?

Vegstock 2017: An Event to Remember

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What a perfect way to spend a beautiful summer day!  With over 500 joining in the fun, Vegstock was a resounding success...an awesome party with a purpose.  In case you hadn't heard, Vegstock was London's inaugural vegan 19+ food and drink event held August 26 at Life of Leisure Surf + Social Club.  Drinks and nosh were enjoyed among friends, with live bands lending to the truly positive vibe.  All net proceeds will support our growing and 100% volunteer driven festival, VegFest London, which is coming right up on November 11 at the Western Fair District.   

A big thanks to those of you who came to enjoy and support Vegstock and everything it represents.  It was fantastic to see all your smiling faces!  Check out more photos on the VegFest London FB page.

And many thanks also to our amazing vendors, who rose to the occasion and filled our bellies with all those infinitely tasty (and vegan!) food and alcohol treats.  Here's to you Sweet Teeth Vegan, London Brewing Co-Op, Globally Local, Henry of Pelham, Real Pops, Nickelbrook Brewing Co., Railway City Brewing Company, Creekside Wine. and Anderson Craft Ales.

And our special appreciation to vendors who were also event sponsors: The Boombox Bakeshop, Plant Matter Kitchen and Life of Leisure Surf + Social Club.  Last, but not least, we're grateful to The Kerouacs, Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies and Nate & Trish or Whatever for their musical talents, enjoyed by all.  

See you again soon at VegFest London!

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PLANT MATTER KITCHEN: CELEBRATING VEGANISM IN LONDON

Written by: Kre’Adiv House

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Not yet two years old, PLANT MATTER KITCHEN has already made an enormous IMPACT in the VEGAN MOVEMENT thanks in part to their ETHICS, their CULTURE, and their FOOD!

The first vegan eatery of its kind in Old South’s Wortley Village, Plant Matter Kitchen is committed to:

●        Supporting LOCAL

●        Practising ENVIRONMENTAL stewardship and sustainability

●        Advocating for SOCIAL JUSTICE movements

●        Serving ORGANIC food

●        Providing nourishing, PLANT-BASED fare

 Londoners, Canadian restaurateurs, and vegans around the world love Plant Matter Kitchen because they're GREEN, they're committed to COMMUNITY, they exercise COMPASSION, they serve undeniably DELICIOUS (and healthy!) food, they’re EXPANDING (yay!), and they’re a proud supporter of VEGFEST LONDON!

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NEXT LEVEL GREEN

Plant Matter Kitchen takes GREEN to the next level by serving vegan, organic food that’s free from GMOs and harmful, environmentally-destructive additives. The restaurant also:

●       Utilizes a reverse osmosis WATER FILTRATION SYSTEM

●       Is committed to COMPOSTING

●       Powers their facility with 100% GREEN ELECTRICITY from Bullfrog Power

●       Sells vegan-friendly TEES AND TANKS

For GLENN WHITEHEAD, co-founder of Plant Matter Kitchen and founder of soon-to-open Plant Matter Bistro (read more below), being AS GREEN AS POSSIBLE is an important part of operating a sound, ethical business:

“We really do believe at Plant Matter Kitchen that the energy that goes into the creation of the food is a critical part of the ingredients. So, when you’re using sustainable energy that’s less harmful, that’s committed to a greener world, I think that actually contributes to making food taste better,” says Glenn.

COMMUNITY & COMPASSION

Embedded in the corporate values of Plant Matter Kitchen—and soon Plant Matter Bistro—is GIVING BACK.

Each month, Plant Matter Kitchen hosts a DINNER FOR A CAUSE, which is a prix fixe charity dinner that raises funds and spreads awareness for important causes in conjunction with organizations including Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, The London Food Bank, CanFix, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Plant Matter Kitchen works with these organizations, along with a lineup of others, because they’re committed to:

 ●       Supporting the local LONDON COMMUNITY

●        Defending ANIMAL WELFARE

●        Demonstrating to the world that the movement toward veganism is about having COMPASSION, LOVE, and RESPECT for all sentient beings

 Plant Matter Kitchen also celebrates local VEGAN WARRIORS, who likewise support, defend, and demonstrate the tenants of veganism on a daily basis. Abby McCuaig, Debbie Somers, Samantha McPherson, Scott James, and Jason King all have unique stories and experiences that drove them toward veganism. UNITED, they’re making tremendous strides in the movement toward cruelty-free living, loving, and eating!

THE FOOD, THE FOOD—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!

Plant Matter Kitchen puts GOOD FOOD FIRST.

It’s that simple, and it means that the ingredients they use are:

●        From LOCAL FARMERS (not from cans, jars, or boxes)

●        Free from GMOs and added chemicals

●        Always SEASONAL

●        All LOCAL, All VEGAN, All ORGANIC

Plant Matter Kitchen’s Wortley Road location is open every day of the week to serve guests delicious food. You can also enjoy Plant Matter Kitchen's wide range of PLANT-BASED OFFERINGS from the comfort of your own home with JustEat.

Check out Plant Matter Kitchen’s Breakfast, Sunday Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, and Drink menus. Follow their Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up-to-date with daily lunch and dinner specials—and for photos of their mouthwatering, decadent weekend doughnuts!

WHAT SETS PLANT MATTER KITCHEN APART from every other restaurant in the city?

The fact that the restaurant’s PHILOSOPHICAL TENETS, which extend from their food, support an ETHICALLY ENGAGED and SOCIALLY AWARE community. And best of all—Plant Matter Kitchen serves these delicious meals in a community eatery that WELCOMES EVERYONE, vegans and non-vegans alike.

 Also some great news: a NEW MENU is being released in October!

And the most riveting news of all: they’re EXPANDING!

PHASE TWO: PLANT MATTER BISTRO

Get excited, London! To meet a growing need for vegan cuisine in the city, Plant Matter Kitchen will be expanding their operations to London’s downtown core with a second location focusing on fine dining: PLANT MATTER BISTRO!

Bringing you nourishing, quality, pure, vegan, all organic fare, Plant Matter Bistro’s menu options are healthy, wholesome, and global.  

When asked why it was important for him to expand his operations, Glenn responded: 

“The success we’ve seen in Wortley Village tells us that change is upon us; that Londoners are interested in plant-based eating, are committed to living a lifestyle that’s good for their health and the health of the environment, and want to get involved. Plant Matter Bistro is just that—a new operation that feeds our community nourishing food and spreads the philosophy that made Plant Matter Kitchen so popular.” 

Open for lunch and dinner, Plant Matter Bistro will offer dishes that are inspired by the kitchens of France, Italy, Korea, and Mexico. Providing GLOBAL FLAVOURS WITH A LOCAL CONSCIOUS, Plant Matter Bistro plans to serve up empanadas, pot-au-feu, burgers, ravioli, bibimbap, gnocchi, enchiladas, superfood salad, and so much more!

  COMING  FALL 2017  to  244 DUNDAS!  Stay tuned for more to come from Plant Matter Bistro on    Facebook    and        Instagram   .

COMING FALL 2017 to 244 DUNDAS! Stay tuned for more to come from Plant Matter Bistro on Facebook and Instagram.

GETTING THE VEGFEST PARTY STARTED

Plant Matter Kitchen will be kicking off VEGFEST LONDON 2017 with a pre-festival dinner in their kitchen, just as they did in 2016 (check out the blog and video for a recap)! 

VEGFEST LONDON is an opportunity for Londoners, Ontarians, Canadians, and citizens of the world to celebrate the importance of: 

●        COMMUNITY

●        SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTALISM

●        EQUALITY for all living beings

●        The ADVANCEMENT OF HEALTH through a plant-based diet

●        LOCAL business and LOCAL love

●        DELICIOUS vegan food

Join Plant Matter Kitchen, the VEGFEST LONDON team, and our entire community in celebrating all things nourishing on Saturday, November 11 at the Western Fair District.

Make sure to stop by Plant Matter Kitchen’s booth to try some tasty treats, help support amazing causes, and chat about ALL THINGS VEGAN!