Friday, March 4, 2016

European Vegan Food Tour

Over our four week trip to Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest and Vienna, we enjoyed some delicious vegan food! One of our favourite parts of travelling is checking out the local vegan scene. Some think being vegan while travelling means missing out but we find the opposite is true. Being vegan means you get off the beaten path to find restaurants and local vegan specialities. As always, our number one vegan travel trip is the HappyCow Worldwide Veg Dining Directory available as a free website or smart phone app. The site has over 40,000 listings, and I have contributed over 740 photos and reviews!

Starting in Amsterdam my favourite spot was Vegabond a simple vegan cafe with limited seating and a well stocked vegan specialty grocery. They make a great sandwich with locally made cashew basil pesto cheese. The coffee and desserts are also terrific. The shop has all the required vegan staples; faux meat, non-dairy cheese (including my favourite Vegusto), cookies, candy, ravioli and pasta. We ventured further out and went to the Loving Hut which had some nice filling dishes including a devious crispy faux chicken and a great tiramisu for dessert. Another further out spot is Koffie ende Koeck which had a nice sandwich, baked goods and coffee. I had high hopes for the vegan butcher I had heard about; De Vegetarische Traiteur, but we were a little underwhelmed with the offerings. It is still a good place to check out and their frozen take home items look good. In fact, we more than once enjoyed their delicious faux chicken product available on a bagel at the chain Bagel and Beans. A local recommended we check out Golden Temple, a vegetarian spot with a fun atmosphere. The flavours combinations (Indian, Asian and Mexican) sometimes were a bit different than expected, but we did enjoy our meal. The pakoras were particularly tasty. We checked out the TerraZen Centre one evening for an interesting mix of Japanese and Caribbean food. The space is small but the staff are friendly and we had a nice time. A favourite spot around Europe is the vegetarian falafel chain Maoz, which we enjoyed a few times. The best part is the all you can fill toppings bar with the great cilantro sauce. Amsterdam also has a candy shop, Candy Freaks, with vegan options clearly marked. We picked up some great licorices and chocolate covered raisons, which I haven't had in years! Amsterdam is also lucky to have a vegan shoe store; VegaLife, where J picked up a new belt. We found over all that Amsterdam vegan spots were more casual and cafe like and the city could do with a nice fancy vegan option.

Cupcakes from Vegabond Cafe


Part of the reason we opted to go to Prague is that we heard the vegan scene is really growing. We picked out our airbnb to be closed to a vegetarian spot; Etnosvet and Etnosvet Cafe. The cafe is all vegan and was our regular breakfast spot for yummy grilled panini with vegan cheese and espresso. It is a small shop with a few seats at the window. The vegetarian restaurant (with vegan options clearly marked) is around the corner. The setting is fancier - a great spot for a nice dinner. I loved the mock Peking duck, and peanut satay the best. There are few vegan options for both appetizers and mains; it is just lacking a vegan dessert. Our other common spot was Moment Cafe, an all vegan spot across from a nice park and near the train. We loved the vibe and the great staff. We ate many meals here and often stopped in later for a coffee break too. It is a great place for breakfast, lunch or supper and they have lots of desserts. Items I particularly liked; vegan egg spread, waffles, seitan bagel, and the soups. They also have great daily special meals. Prague also has a small shop and restaurant called Puro which is affiliated with the awesome vegan grocery chain, Veganz. We stopped in a picked up a few vegan snack items. However, we found the health food store, Bioobchod, near our accommodations to have more of the items we were looking for. It is all vegetarian, with lots of vegan items. There was a great selection of violife and other vegan cheeses, vegan sliced meats like wheatly, and vegan snacks. It also has pasta, canned goods, and a bakery area.

After connecting on social media, we also met up for coffee with Randi, one half of the full-time travelling duo behind the Veggie Visa website. We had a great visit! "Veggie Visa’s mission is to discover vegan lifestyle options all over the planet. Whether it be a delicious restaurants to dine at, great places to shop, vegan recipes, or health and wellness information, the site is devoted to traveling the globe to bring you great vegan resources, tips, and stories."

Grilled Panini from Etnosvet Cafe

Now Budapest has quite a few vegetarian and vegan restaurants, unfortunately due to the holidays some were not open the entire time we were there and others were only open part of the time. We were grateful we booked an apartment with a kitchen as we used it a few times. We stocked up on items from the Bio ABC health food market and picked up fruits and vegetables at the Great Market Hall (central market). However, Budapest is home to one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten; vegan fried cheese from Napfenyes Restaurant and Pastry Shop. This delightful dish was recommended to us by our new friend Randi, of Veggie Visa. She does a nice review of this delicacy in her article; Vegan Food Tour in Budapest, Hungary. Napfenyes is also home to amazing vegan cream filled eclairs. I admit we packed a few (several) for the train ride to Vienna. This spot also had great pizza and salad options, plus J's new favourite, a vegan napoleon square for dessert. Another great spot is Kozmoz Vegan Restaurant, and the highlight was the layered chocolate pancake dessert. HappyCow lists Madal Cafe as vegetarian friendly but it did not have a lot of options other than a few raw dessert items. However, the espresso is excellent so we stopped there regularly. There are also many Hummus Bar franchises with a good selection of vegan friendly hummus, falafel, soups and salads. 
Vegan fried cheese!


And on to Vienna, the highlight here was not one but two all vegan grocery stores: Maran Vegan and Veganz. Veganz is a chain of all vegan grocers, the first of which we went to in 2012 in Berlin. The Vienna store is terrific and we picked up some European favourites including vegan ravioli. Maran Vegan is actually a larger store and has a larger deli and produce area. Both stores had expansive selections of vegan cheese, faux meats, snack items, pasta, bakery items, personal care items etc. Whenever we visit a vegan grocer I always pick up a new reusable bag for a souvenir, and I particularly loved the all black one from Veganz. With the lovely groceries we made dinner a few times in our flat, after long days of wandering. We regularly visited Swing Kitchen, and all vegan burger joint. We went to both locations and loved the burgers, sides, and the soft dipped ice-cream cones! It was a novelty to have such a yummy vegan fast food joint with a fun atmosphere. For a more upscale and health focussed option, we loved Tian Bistro a vegetarian spot with lots of marked vegan options. The baked potato stuffed with cashew cream, and the tempeh salad were our favourites. Pirata Sushi was also a good spot with a variety of all vegan sushi. 

Vegan groceries 

































Friday, February 19, 2016

Amsterdam, Netherland


We started our Europe trip with 2 nights in Amsterdam, to settle into the new time zone. We stayed at the convenient WestCord City Central Hotel. Then we spent the next nearly 3 weeks travelling around Europe before returning for our final week in Amsterdam. We stayed in an Airbnb flat in the core of De Wallen, which was much closer to the Red Light District than I anticipated (3 windows were a few feet from our door).

Some come to Amsterdam for the legalized pot and prostitution, but I was all about the cat museum, adorably called Katten Cabinet. The museum is in a tall row house, with cat related art exhibits and small museum store on the first 2 floors, then vacation rentals above and finally the owner's suite on the top floor. The exhibits are very diverse with the common theme of portraying a variety of cats. There are posters, sculptures, paintings - including a Rembrandt, etchings - including a Picasso, textiles, signs, advertising pieces, household items emblazoned with cats, ornaments, photos and a few real life cats wandering around. I loved the experience and saw many, mostly women, also enthralled, (some with bored looking husbands/boyfriends in tow).  The backyard contains several cat related tin signs and a few chickens running around, and the staff person said the owner calls them his two-legged cats.

Some of my readers may not know this but I started collecting cat related items when I was a young child. It all started when my maternal grandmother gave me a small china ornament of a cat sitting on a boot. From there I amassed many cat related items in my childhood. A highlight was shopping at The Bay and finding a cat comforter with matching cat sheets, which complimented my cat wallpaper, and the little cat foot prints I insisted my mom paint on my dresser. I slowed down on my cat collecting in my tweens and focussed in on the vintage Shafford  black cat collection from 1950's Japan. The first one I bought was a mug in a small antique store in Red Deer, Alberta, which was later joined by a teapot from a BC flea market. As an adult I've added more pieces to this collection. In 1986 I also desperately wanted the Franklin Mint "Cats of the World" Collection and they were simply too expensive. Last year, at an estate sale, nostalgia won out and I bought 15 of them for a bargain (which joined a few my sweet husband had previously purchased for me). Surprisingly our house is not overrun with cat kitsch, most of it is regulated to an old steamer trunk, and I promise we only (currently) have one real life cat; Milli.

Ok enough about cats... Amsterdam offered many other sights and things to do. The city is very picturesque with all the water filled canals and we often spent time just observing the street life. The streets are quite boisterous in the evenings but we did not have any negative experiences. Pro Tip; the 'coffee shops' don't actually sell coffee which is evident by the plumes of pot smoke spilling onto the streets; to find coffee you need to look for a cafe. We don't tend to do a lot of shopping but we did visit the Tesla store and picked up some shirts. We also visited the Sea Shepherd store where I added a towel to my collection.

We used the trams to get to the further out lying areas. We visited two excellent museums; Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. The Van Gogh was a truly immense collection of Van Gogh works and information on his life. Stedelijk is dedicated to contemporary and modern art and design. I particular enjoyed the design portion with art in everyday objects such as, well designed kitchenware and furniture. On a different note, we also visited the Red Light Secrets - Museum of Prostitution, which gave a informative overview of the issues and history. One particularly powerful exhibit was set up like a Red Light window, with the museum visitor on the side of the woman working, and a life sized screen on the other side playing a video of the many types of people who pass by, including the curious, the friendly, the embarrassed, the rude, and the abusive.

Amsterdam is also home to Anne Frank's house, the young jewish girl who wrote a diary of her time in hiding from Nazis during the second world war. The exhibit is extremely informative, and is well set up items that belonged to the Frank family, Anne's diary, photographs and educational video. It is is an important and popular place to visit, so we opted to purchase booked tickets online, which allowed us to go at a specific time and avoid the line up. The canal house contained a business owned by Anne Frank's father Otto, while the hiding place is in a annex out back and above, the entrance hidden by a movable bookshelf. Anne Frank's family hid there with four other Jewish people (Hermann and Auguste Van Pels and their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer). Four of Otto's employees risked their lives to hide everyone and provide all their provisions over the more than two years they hid in the annex, before they are discovered by Nazis in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. Otto was the only one to survive the camps. It was an emotional experience to walk up the narrow staircase and stand in the rooms seeing the same walls that surrounded these eight people.

Anne Frank's life would have been much different had she and her family not been denied entry to the USA as refugees. Canada also turned away Jews fleeing persecution and death in Nazi Germany. "It was 1939 and 907 Jewish refugees aboard the German transatlantic liner St. Louis were seeking sanctuary from Nazi Germany. Canada refused to take them in and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps." (source: The Chronicle Herald) As a global community we need to learn from history and respond to the worlds' suffering, injustice, poverty, war and those fleeing, in a compassionate manner.

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, responsible, honourable  compassionate. It is, above all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” - Leo Rosten

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Vienna, Austria

We arrived in Vienna via train from Budapest, Hungary. For some reason in Vienna we had a difficult time finding information on public transportation schedules, so we opted for a taxi from the station to our airbnb rental in the Neubaugasse neighbourhood. The flat was magnificent, in an old building with an ancient but working elevator. The ceilings were high, with light filled windows. Vienna was snowier than our previous stops, and we were thankful for the extra layers in the damp cold. It was interesting to see flowers point through a light dusting of snow.

The view from our flat;


Vienna was our shortest stop, five nights, and we spent it immersed in wandering the streets and checking out the museums. We also did not anticipate the national religious holiday on January 6 called Epiphany which saw most shops and restaurants closed for the day. We tend to skew towards contemporary art exhibits but we enjoyed exploring the history in Hofburg Imperial Palace, which is a very historically accurate glimpse into the Habsburg empire. It includes furnished Imperial apartments, Sisi museum, silver collection and a large collection of Imperial utilitarian objects. We also learned a lot about the rather tragic life of Empress Elizabeth who was married into imperial life at sixteen years old, lost her son to suicide,  suffered deep melancholy, and was ultimately murdered. The exhibit did a good job engaging with visitors via the stories, authentically decorated rooms and artifacts.

Mumok Modern Art Museum was a fantastic experience with great exhibits in an interesting building. I particularly enjoyed the tapestries by Ulrike Muller. A local recommended the free exhibit at the Kunsthalle Wien which had an interesting mixed media show called Political Populism, exploring current and historical social issues. We also enjoyed the artistic, and often political, graffiti displayed around the city.

Vienna was also fabulous for vegan food, but that's another blog post!

For my photos on Vienna see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8751723@N02/albums/72157663100881976

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Budapest, Hungary



We travelled to Budapest from Prague via train, my preferred way of travel. Trains take much longer than a flight but are a more comfortable way to get from one place to another. You just show up a few minutes before the train departs and hop on. The train also does not give me the same headaches and cramps as a plane and offers a more spacious and scenic experience. There is nothing like going down to the dining car and enjoying a freshly made espresso and taking advantage of the free wifi. From the news one might expect that the train experience would be difficult, but as always the media often only shows one angle. The train was safe, comfortable, affordable and the stations in both cities were terrific. We took the metro from the Budapest train station and then a 1km walk to our airbnb, a quaint loft apartment in a historic building in the city centre. The first night we had an exciting trip to do laundry a 24 hour laundromat, which even provided wifi!

The second bath we tired was Gellert Baths, on the other side of the river from our central accommodations. We walked there and again agreed to meet in the central indoor pool that we both could see when we entered. I must stay that the halls are a maze and it took a me a long while to find the central pool again. The Gellert Baths are stunningly beautiful with an Art Nouveau style. The outdoor pool is much smaller than Szechenyi but we enjoyed it as well.

Next up was the Rudas Baths. We walked to the Baths, also across the river from our accommodations, but via a different bridge, and when we arrived there was a long line up and no further patrons were being admitted. After waiting awhile we decided we'd wake up early and try again another day. The following day, after being jolted awake by an unfamiliar alarm clock, as I was now quite used to waking when the mood struck me, we bundled up for the cold, early morning, 1.5 km walk. Once we arrived there was a large number of people milling about in the waiting area and no one selling tickets. We waited around perplexed until I asked a local person what was going on. It seems that there was an electrical problem and that it could be hours before it was fixed (they were still waiting for an electrician to even arrive). So we trudged back across the cold bridge to re-group at our flat. Did I mentioned this was all pre-coffee? The lesson; the early bird does not always get a birdbath. So we decided that Rudas was not meant to be and for our final trip to the Baths we went back to Szechenyi and had another great soak. I would certainly recommend checking out the various baths in Budapest for a interesting and fun experience. Apparently they also have late night disco parties at some baths but we decided that might be too interesting.

We spent New Year's Eve enjoying the outdoor energy, checking out the Christmas markets and the impromptu street fireworks. Teens and young adults put on their own fireworks all over the central squares. The streets were lively with everyone enjoying the evening. We had intended on spending part of the evening at the offbeat attraction, the Cat Cafe, however they were closed for the festivities. We did get to the cafe on another day and it was well worth it. There are ten formally homeless cats that lounge around the premises, spoiled with seemingly unlimited houses, beds, perches, climbing trees and hiding spots. The friendly cats wandered around to customers for a pet. There are strict rules of not picking up the cats or feeding them. I have never seen such a spoiled and content group of felines! It was nice spot to have an espresso and get int some cat therapy.

Our to do list included exploring the cities thermal baths. We attempted to try three different baths and succeeded with two. For the first experience we decided on the Szechenyi Baths, a large and popular destination. Upon arrival it is pretty straightforward to purchase tickets and head to the locker rooms, were your admission wrist band operates a locker. However, it is rather chaotic inside and a bit of a maze to find your way in and out. More than one gentleman wandered into the ladies change room and judging by the embarrassment I don't think it was intentional. The complex boasts 18 pools of which 15 are spring fed. We had agreed to meet in the outdoor thermal pool, however there was two large, very full pools. After J chased down my look alike he finally located me in the pool I believe we had agreed to meet in. Interestingly, bathing caps are not required in any thermal pools but it you attempt to enter the outdoor lap pool with out one the staff will descend upon you immediately. In fact it seemed to be their primary job. We wandered around the interior pools trying each one out, and they varied in size and temperature. We preferred the the outdoor thermal pool, and spent the majority of the time there. It was very relaxing, warm and full of diverse tourists and locals. There was even a stone chess table with men playing a game. My big lesson from he experience would be to bring flip flops as the floors are pretty dingy from the multiple shoes. As well, as a Canadian I pride myself on my hardiness in dealing with the cold weather, and would not have been that bothered by the chilly walk outside to the pool, except for the ice melt salt burning into the soles of my feet. So again, bring flip flops.

Another highlight was the Ludwig Museum for contemporary art. The museum itself is in a very interesting building. The exhibits were terrific and included european and international artworks. I discovered a new favourite artist; Laszlo Lakner, a native of Budapest. After much hype, we also decided to visit the House of Terror Museum. It contains exhibits related to the fascist communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is also a memorial to the victims of these regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building." (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Terror. The museum had some interesting elements such as intense music and lighting and artistic displays. Unfortunately, it lacked a cohesive flow and did not pull the viewer in. There was a lack of interpretive signage. For example you could pickup a written explanation in different sections that was often quite long but did not connect to the display well. They instead seemed to give a lengthy history lesson versus engagement. In one part you walk through a maze that appears to be bars of soap with no explanation. There was the option of a recorded guided tour but they were out of the headsets, and I believe an exhibit should be able to stand on its own with out such a guide. In fact we never use the guides. We have previously visited some very profound and emotional sites including the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial in Berlin, that did a much better job connecting with the viewer. Within in Budapest a profound exhibit was the simple memorial on the banks of the Danube river. Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank." (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoes_on_the_Danube_Bank) The bank is lined with cast metal shoes of all sizes symbolizing the men, women and children murdered.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a picturesque city with stunning, intact, heritage architecture. As with all our travels we like to flaneur; taking in the sights, sounds, and even smells of the urban life as we wander the streets, and Prague is an especially nice place to do this. In addition to the architecture, there are many parks, squares, benches, and public art to enjoy. We came to Prague with only a few items planned on our itinerary; vegan food and contemporary Art; we were not disappointed with either.

Our Prague stay started with arriving via a short flight from Amsterdam, which we had spent two nights in to break up the travel (on our way out of Europe we spend a week in Amsterdam). We normally take the metro to our accommodations but the Airbnb host offered to arrange a taxi for a reasonable fee. Our Airbnb was wonderfully located next to metro and tram stops, shops, and vegan friendly dining. We love Airbnb as it allows us to pick a place based on price, location, amenities, sights, lively neighbourhood etc so I always opt for a property in a central area, near metros, and vegan friendly dining (the happycow veg dining directly helps with this). The other benefit is it almost always cheaper than a hotel and since we opt for apartments, they are larger and have a kitchen as well.

As mentioned already, just wandering the streets you will stumble upon countless historic buildings and interesting architecture, including a great number of grand churches. We explored several of the recommended sites including Old Town Square, the astronomical clock, Charles pedestrian bridge, Dancing House and the castle. We also spent time window shopping the antique stores and enjoying the open air Christmas markets selling trinkets, and food, decorated with lights and festive displays. We also went to the Kolbenova flea market, best described as a garage sale crossed with liquidation world, a gun show and a butcher. This interesting article captures some of the experience; The Ultimate Guide To Kolbenova In Prague, Europe’s Weirdest Flea Market.

We explored some terrific museums including the fantastic Brave New World exhibit at Dox Museum. It was a little further from the centre but worth the trip. A well curated exhibit in a great space. We also enjoyed the Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and local contemporary artworks on display at the Gallery of Art Prague. The National Technical Museum has an extremely large and varied collection including a particle accelerator, vehicles, vintage household technology, toys, chemistry, printing, mining, astronomy, time measurement etc etc. We spent several hours exploring the exhibits and cold have easily spent several more. We also stopped into the small but informative Museum of Communism.

An unexpected museum we stumbled upon was the Apple Museum and it was amazing! The museum is dedicated to the history of the Apple computer company and Steve Jobs. There is an expansive and amazing display of vintage Apple products including the original Apple 1 computer. The entire space is bright, well thought out and a great experience. Some unique aspects include Steven's food Cafe - vegetarian raw (all vegan except honey) featuring foods Steven liked, Integrated USB chargers in Cafe to recharge your iPhone/iPod, wifi, and iPad based Internet terminals. The experience was enhanced with some of Steve's favourite music playing in the lobby and Cafe, the voice over if Steve Job's commencement speech in the exhibit, apple air freshener, Macintosh Apple tree in the courtyard and super cool, and sleek subterranean bathrooms. The museum was an expected highlight of our visit to Prague. When travelling you never know what you'll find!

For Prague photos see: https://flickr.com/photos/8751723@N02/sets/72157660326031304

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Count down to Europe

On December 18, 2015 we will head to Europe for 4 weeks and experience 4 more countries we have never visited; Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. A few have asked about whether we would still travel with the recent acts of terrorism. The reality is that terrible things and wonderful things happen everyday in every corner of the world. A real tragedy is the actions of a few are being used to vilify entire groups of people and to prevent people from knowing their global neighbours.

"We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us, a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don’t close off and we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama describes two kinds of selfish people: the unwise and the wise. Unwise selfish people think only of themselves, and the result is confusion and pain. Wise people know that the best thing they can do for themselves is to be there for others. As a result, they experience joy.

When we see a woman and her child begging on the street, when we see a man mercilessly beating his terrified dog, when we see a teenager who has been badly beaten or see fear in the eyes of a child, do we turn away because we can’t bear it? Most of us probably do. Someone needs to encourage us not to brush aside what we feel, not to be ashamed of the love and grief it arouses in us, not to be afraid of the pain. Someone needs to encourage us that this soft spot in us could be awakened and that to do this would change our lives." [Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 87-88]


So we will continue to travel; meeting new neighbours, savouring wonderful vegan food, wandering down streets that have seen a million feet, taking photos, soaking up art and architecture, getting lost and found again, and exploring new favourite places.

"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." Pico Iyer

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Canadian Online Vegan-Friendly Shopping

It used to be that all the online shopping options were USA based such as Vegan Essentials and Food Fight. (I've successfully ordered from both shops). It is great to have these options but with shipping costs, shipping times and customs fees it can be expensive and difficult, especially when dealing with perishable items. Canadians now have a few more options for online shopping to get those hard to find vegan friendly items. I have been a long time customer of Nice Shoes; Canada's Vegan Shoe Store. Nice Shoes has a fantastic selection of men's and women's shoes for all occasions. Plus they have belts, bags, purses, wallets, shoe care, socks and even some chocolates. Their shipping is fast, service friendly and a wonderful selection of items. Another place I frequently shop is Well.ca, which is not a vegan store but has a large selection of vegan friendly food, personal care and household items, plus free shipping if you send $29.00.

Now onto my latest online shopping crush: Vegan Supply, which opened in May 2015 and is located in Vancouver, BC. (There is also an Eastern vegan online store, based in Toronto, that I have not shopped at: The V Word Market). Vegan Supply stocks all sort of items not normally available in Canada. My first experience dealing with the force behind Vegan Supply was ordering vegan items from Antony and Sons in December 2014, before they had their dedicated vegan company Vegan Supply. You can read more about it in my Calgary Vegan Cheese post. Fast forward to present day; I made a large and varied purchase of items in August 2015, pictured below.



Let's start with dessert first! I have long loved Cocomels; the original coconut milk caramels. I ordered an old favourite, 2 boxes of the sea salt naked Cocomels. I also tried the chocolate covered Cocomel with sea salt; divine! The caramels have a real buttery taste with a pleasant, but not over powering, coconut flavour. Dipping them in chocolate takes the taste up to another level.

Vegan Supply has a good selection of vegan meats and I opted for; Louisville Jerky, Viana Picknicker, and the Beyond Meat Beast Burger. The maple bacon flavoured jerky was the best I've had and it boasts 12 grams of protein per bag, gluten free and most important delicious! I've had the Viana Picknicker before while traveling in Europe, and itt is a great on the go snack similar to salami. Last but definitely not least, I finally tried the much praised Beast Burger. Outside Magazine recently wrote an article on this product titled "The Top-Secret Food that Will Change the Way You Eat" A quote fro the article; More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B. In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides. The burger was truly the best store bought vegan burger I have ever tried. It had a great favour, texture and no odd after taste that I sometimes find with veggie burgers. For those concerned about gluten (not me I love gluten!) the burger is also gluten free. It grilled up well on the BBQ and my only regret is that I did not order more!

Now for the area in which Vegan Supply really excels; a robust variety of vegan cheese! I ordered cheese from; VtopianChao slices from Field RoastMiyoko's Kitchen and mac and cheese from Daiya. I have had Vtopian cheese on numerous occasions and it is always delicious  This time we got the Camembert which is a heavy creamy consistency with a slightly sweet cheese flavour. It spreads well and was used on bread and on top of perogies. I also purchased a Vtopian seitan cheese ball which is my favourite. It is a deletable hazelnut cheese wrapped in maple seitan. Perfect for parties or eating straight up on fresh bread. Up next is Chao slices, which are now my favourite vegan cheese slices! They have that more processed cheese slice taste, vs gourmet aged cheese, but that is not a bad thing. They worked very well in cheese sandwiches and grilled cheese. My favourite flavour was the Tomato Cayenne, but all were terrific. My overall favourite cheese pick was Miyoko's in Winter Truffle and Smoked Farmhouse. The winter truffle was the softest and had deep mushroom flavour. The smoked farmhouse was out of this world with a smoky, deep umami flavour and firmer texture. I love pairing good vegan cheese with an organic baguette or ciabatta bun from Ace Bakery, found locally at Superstore or Co-op.

Now the Daiya mac and cheese is not straight up cheese but the noodles come with a soft cheese pouch similar to velveeta.  Out of the two I ordered, I've only tried the Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie, and it was pretty good, although I've heard the Deluxe Cheddar Style is better so I will be ordering that kind next time. The noodles cooked up nicely (which surprised me a bit as they are gluten free) and the cheese pouch mixed in well. 

Vegan Supply is a terrific addition to the Canadian vegan community. My order was processed quickly, with great communication. When shipping perishables you need to purchase ice packs and choose the two day shipping options. This of course adds to the price but it is certainly much cheaper than a trip to the United States! I opted for UPS and the box arrived well packaged and still cool even in a heat wave. I recommend shipping to a location where you will be present to collect it. I shipped it to work and kept it in the fridge until the end of the day. Next time I will try out the cheaper expedited shipping option via Canada Post. 

Happy shopping!