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.