Monthly Updates – What’s New in the Plant Based World.

Restaurant Openings

Have a restaurant opening in your city you’d like to see covered? Send the details to plantandpine(at)gmail.com

Soy Boys (471 Church Street)
Finally a fully vegan restaurant in the Church-Wellesley village! Soy Boys is a take-out burger joint with a simple, straight-forward menu of burgers, waffle fries and soft serve. Let’s hope that this attracts more plant based options to the neighbourhood. 

Aunty Em’s (1672 St Clair Ave W) 
Aunty Em’s is the latest creation from Emily De Beus, the entrepenerial wizard behind popular vegan pop-up  Sausage Party. Located in Earlscourt, a quiet, largely residential area, that feels very far removed from the craziness of downtown, Aunty’s Em, meshes naturally with the friendly neighbourhood/local vibe and is thus far the only vegan option is the area. They have a rotation of daily sandwiches, wraps, and sweets plus, of course, Sausage Party products, as well as products from other local retailers like Wandering Deli and Pudgy Pigeon.

Hawker (291 Augusta Ave.)
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Vegan fine dining options and innovative culinary experiences are gradually expanding in Toronto, and Hawker, a restaurant that specializes in what it calls “small-plate, naturalist cuisine,” is leading the charge. Hawker’s team of Leah Steduto, Jeff Merkel, and Darshan Dorka have created a serene food oasis, with beautiful but simple flourishes, set amidst Kensington Market’s vibrant centre. The menu emphasis clean, elegant flavours and beautiful plating and dish design, while also retaining the unique South Asia culinary fushion of their former restaurant venture, TVX (The Vegan Extremist). Highlights include Flowerpot (curry, potatoes, shiso, roti) and Autumn (parsnips, birch syrup, smoked tomato sauce) but you can’t really go wrong with this menu. They also have a full drink menu, and the Repentance cocktail (a delightful mixture of oat milk, sage, sweet fern and whiskey) is out of this world!

CLOSINGS:
One Love Vegetarian – Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to beloved plant-based Caribbean spot, One Love Vegetarian. One Love Vegetarian, which closed in June. has been a vegan mainstay since it first opened it’s brick and mortar location at Bathhurst and Bloor in 2009, but it established a reputation long before that, with a corn soup and BBQ tofu that was the frequent highlight of many local food festivals. You can read more about the closing, the restaurant’s history and it’s owner’s, Ikeila Wright, next steps, in the Toronto Star. Hopefully there will be a One Love cookbook coming out sometime in the future.

Grocery Store Spottings (#veganfindsTO)

Vegan and accidentally vegan products are flowing into our grocery stores at an unprecedented level, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. The spottings below represent only a small fraction of the new products that are now available. If you have a vegan store spotting that you’d like to see covered? Send the details and a photo, if you have one, to plantandpine(at)gmail.com

Fiesta Farms (200 Christie St.), Toronto’s best grocery store continues it’s dominance with an ever-increasing number of new vegan products. If you’re looking for a new vegan product, chances are you’ll find it here first. They have the best plant-based cheese selection in the city, and now have added brands The Future of Cheese and Plant Ahead to their expansive roster. Other new highlights: Tori’s Bakeshop products, and Sausage Rolls by No Bones.

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Whole Foods, Yorkville (87 Avenue Rd) has a few new products of note, including an expanded selection of meat alternatives from Alternative Kitchen, new cheese shreds from veteran vegan fromagerie Sheese and my personal favourite, products from Oggi Foods (mini Calzones and Bac*n Bites). They also carry their pizzas. Not all are vegan, but the ones that are, are clearly marked.

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Good Rebel (1591 Dundas West) always has new and hard to find products in their store, but I was particularly thrilled to learn they now carry vegan cold cuts from the Italy-based, Good and Green.  I spent a few weeks in Italy in June, and ate a lot of these cold cuts, and eating them will always remind me of my time there. 

Upcoming Events 

Vegandale
The popular vegan food festival returns to the Garrison Commons, in downtown Toronto, on August 20th, with a stellar line-up of vendors, both local and from the U.S. Tickets are still available for $15, but prices goes up on August 3rd. Also keep in mind that the food itself can be quite expensive, on top of the price of admission. Bring your appetite, and expect line-ups. 

Burlington Veg Fest 
Burlington is having it’s 1st annual VegFest on August 20th! Yes this is the same day as Vegandale, but admission is free for this event, and it’s more community-minded, rather than purely a commercial event.

The Vegan Fashion Show 
This event isn’t until October, but you can get Early Bird Tickets now for $30.  This year’s theme is vegan leather. The event takes place at Longboat Hall (103 Dovercourt Rd.) and proceeds benefit Animal Justice.

Vegan Chocolate Making Workshop by Chocolate Tales
Who doesn’t love chocolate?  Chocolate Tales, a local chocolateria, puts on this vegan chocolate making workshop regularly and the next workshop date is on August 21st. For around $80 you’ll learn how to make gourmet vegan drinking chocolate,  dark chocolate bars with dried fruit and seeds, and truffle-bites. The workshop takes places at Mad Bean Cafe (519 Eglinton Avenue West). 

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