“Enviropigs”- A needlessly complex (and unkind) “solution”

Last week The Globe and Mail ran an article about transgenic pigs, that are being developed to be more enivronmentally friendly. They’re dubbed, “Enviropigs.” The article can be read here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/global-food/canadas-transgenic-enviropig-is-stuck-in-a-genetic-modification-poke/article1812708/

The NCVA sent the following response as a letter to the editor:

Re: Canada’s transgenic Enviropig is stuck in a genetic modification poke

It is clear from this article that there is a widespread and growing acceptance that our current system of agriculture is environmentally unsustainable. For many people, this alarm was first sounded with the 2006 United Nations report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which emphasized the environmental degradation caused by much of the world’s love affair with meat. The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions – 18 per cent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step towards finding a solution. However, the solution that’s being touted—producing genetically modified, so-called environmentally friendly livestock—is an unnecessarily convoluted and problematic response, especially considering that there is a much simpler, safer, and kinder option.

Perhaps transgenic livestock have the potential to relieve some environmental burden, but that solution does little to address the additional environmental issues arising from raising livestock, and nothing to address the moral and ethical aspects that we must—as a thinking and supposedly just society—take under consideration.

There are plenty of protein and nutrient rich foods that people can eat and thrive on, and bypass all of these concerns, such as lentils, beans, rice, leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains and seeds, and hemp. Plant-based foods by nature require less resources to produce, and are less polluting.

A 2010 United Nations report ( the UNEP’s international panel of sustainable resource management) stated that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change. The report stated, “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products…A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Unfortunately many people still associate meat with affluence, but their health, the environment, and the animals pay dearly for this perception. The good news is that there have never been more resources available to people who are willing to make this shift, and there’s never been a better—or more important time—to do so.

National Capital Vegetarian Association
Ottawa
http://www.ncva.ca

Tales of Cake and Frosting

By Erin

I’m not sure how many of you know this, but the NCVA is developing a restaurant outreach program whereby we try to encourage and teach local omni restaurants to be more vegan friendly.

As part of our restaurant outreach package, I wanted to include a really easy and delicious dessert recipe since, even at the veg-friendliest restaurants, vegan desserts are rare.

I settled on chocolate cake since there are so many great vegan ones out there. Specifically, I opted for one of the recipes that helped Chloe Coscarelli win on the Food Networks “Cupcake Wars.”

Check out an article on her win at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/tasty-vegan-food-cupcakes-show-it-can-be-done/.

She was also interviewed recently on “Animal Voices” a Toronto-based radio show. Check that out at: http://animalvoices.ca/2010/10/05/vegan-fitness-nutrition-ultramarathoner-brendan-brazier-dr-occhipinti-chef-chloe-coscarelli/

Anyway, I’d already tweaked the recipe a bit…a little less sugar, instant coffee because I never have espresso powder…but now I wanted to do a test run with the recipe as a two-layer cake. No big changes required, just needed to find the right baking time. Looking at other layer cake recipes, 350 for somewhere between 28 and 36 minutes seemed the norm.

I figured since this was an experimental cake, I’d run another experiment while verifying the bake time. Have you ever noticed how adamant vegan bakers are about not overmixing cake batter? Apparently it leads to tough cakes, fallen cakes, cakes that don’t rise at all, and various other types of badness.

But if that’s the case, why do all boxed cake mix instructions tell you to beat the hell out of their batter for two minutes?

I don’t get it.

So I decided to put it to the test. Layer number one was “mixed lightly until just incorporated” while layer number two was beaten violently à la a boxed mix.

I baked layer number one for 33 minutes. It fell a little bit, making me think I should do layer number two for 35 minutes. Which I did, and, when it came out of the oven, I honestly thought that it was the winner. It was big and poofy and had a smooth, glossy surface. I envisioned myself calling out all the know-it-all vegan chefs and telling them to stick their light incorporation and accept that fact that, evil omni or not, Duncan Hines has been doing cakes since they were in short pants so if he says beat, dammit, beat!

But then layer number two deflated. Here’s a shot of the two layers side by side. The one on the left is the beaten one. Quite the difference in looks!

Now on to the icing.

I recently found a recipe for great fluffy vegan icing. Turns out the secret is a pound of fat. Ever notice how often the secret ingredient is a pound of fat?

That recipe is below:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners does one using unrefined sugar, for a mere thousand dollars a bag)
½ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat until fluffy (about 5-7 minutes). For a chocolate version, add ½ cup of cocoa.

I was planning to go with that recipe. But then I discovered Mimicreme Healthy Top whipped topping. While this stuff is healthy only in comparison to sucking on the tailpipe of an idling car, it is very delicious. Plus, it boasts a level of fluffiness that simply cannot be achieved using traditional ingredients.

So I decided to try mixing some sugar, coffee and cocoa into the Mimicreme to create a fluffy mocha icing.

I began by pulverizing some sugar and instant coffee in my partner’s coffee grinder (I’m sure he didn’t mind), then tossed that and a few tablespoons of cocoa into the unmixed Mimicreme. The stuff looks terrifying just out of the box, by the way. Remember when Tyler Durden retrieved the bag of fat from the liposuction clinic dumpster? Like that, only square.

Then I whipped and beheld the miracle that I had created.

The stuff was yummy, but seriously weird. First, even though I’d added a good half cup of dry ingredients to the cream, it was runnier than the stuff I’d made on a previous occasion with no additives. How does that work?

Second, it was neither liquid not solid. I actually put it in the fridge before putting it on the cake, hoping it would firm up a bit. When it hadn’t changed much after half an hour, I decided to go ahead. I dumped it all on top of the cake, then began spreading it carefully over the edges. I fully expected it to pour over, making unappealing puddles around the base of the cake.

But it didn’t. The semi-liquid cream sort of clung to the sides of the cake. I was amazed! Then I decided to tempt fate by trying to smooth out the clinging cream. No way was I getting away with this, I thought. It’ll peel away from the sides of the cake, or start running down, or something.

Nope. It was amazingly malleable. I spread, I swirled, I smoothed, and the modified Mimicreme just sort of went with it. It was kind of like the bowling ball mattress – touching any given bit of icing only moved that bit – the stuff around it stayed put.

Very weird.

Anyway, here are a couple of pics of the finished cake, with and without espresso chocolate shavings. I’ve got a couple of taste testers coming by later to see if hey can tell the difference between layers one and two.

Oh, and here is the final cake recipe:

3 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp vinegar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350
Line the bottoms of 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper

Mix wet ingredients
Mix dry ingredients
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and “mix lightly until just incorporated”

Divide batter between cake pans and spread it around (it’s a thick batter)

Bake for 32-35 minutes.

The additions to the Mimicreme were 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp instant coffee and 4 tbsp cocoa.

Mat & Nat handbag sale in Montreal

By Kim

When most people hear about veganism they think food. It’s pretty easy to find food labeled vegan nowadays. Do you ever go shopping and find boots or handbags labeled ‘vegan’? It’s usually more challenging to find clothing and accessories that are completely vegan.

Cute pink Mat & Nat wallet!
Yesterday I went to Montreal for the Mat & Nat Sample sale. Mat & Nat is a popular Montreal-based company that specializes in making designer, eco-friendly handbags and accessories.
Mat & Nat clutch
I’ve always wanted a Mat & Nat handbag but didn’t want to splurge. I thought, why spend $200 on ONE handbag when you can get four at H&M for the same price? By the time they fall apart you are usually looking for a change anyway.The 90 per cent off regular price tag at the sample sale seemed like my kind of a deal. It was. I ended up getting a pretty sweet handbag, and a wallet. They even gave me a free clutch when I told them I came all the way from Ottawa!

Mat & Nat handbag
Unlike shoes or boots, I have usually been able to find stylish vegan handbags at most stores. One thing that I never really thought about was, what are the cheaper bags made from? They are usually constructed of PVC or some other less than environmentally-friendly material. Mat & Nat uses recycled bottles and non-animal products in all of their creations.

I recently heard an interview with the creative director of Mat & Nat on CBC. He said that they have a vegan-only lunch policy at the office and when they go out to lunch during work hours. Although that might be a little authoritarian, I think it’s good in keeping with their environmentally friendly lifestyle of the company. Most workplaces have a dress code in place, so why not have a food code?

If you are going to Montreal this week, you should definitely stop in at the sample sale and pick up a new handbag, wallet, or laptop bag (Mat & Nat products are not just for women!) at the sale price.

Men's laptop bag by Mat & Nat

The location is 333 Chabanel, Suite 505. Just off Autoroute 40 near the Saint Laurent/Saint Denis exit. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. After shopping, why not pop in to Aux Vivres (http://www.auxvivres.com) for a coconut blt wrap and a bombay banane smoothie for lunch! That’s what I did! 🙂

If you can’t make it this week, Mat & Nat products can also be purchased online: http://www.mattandnat.com/

Vegan Mac & Cheez

By Pamela

Daiya vegan cheese appeared in the Ottawa market in June 2010, opening up many new culinary opportunities for vegans, many of whom had come to accept that may never enjoy the stringy goodness of cheese again.

Daiya’s cheddar variety melts and tastes nearly identical to its cow’s milk counterpart. It’s quite a marvel, really, that a company can take coconut, tapioca, and a few other ingredients, and somehow make it mimic the “real” thing… minus, of course, the saturated fat, cholesterol, and goodness knows what else you might find in cheese made from cow’s milk.

My favorite thing to make using Daiya is vegan mac & cheese. I have made it for many vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores, and many of the omnivores did not even realize that it was vegan. My partner’s children love it, and my non-veg dad does too. In what follows, I will describe roughly how it’s made (I don’t usually measure things).

Rice pasta
Start by boiling water, and getting some pasta going. I personally prefer rice pasta. For this recipe, make about a pound.

Earth Balance
While that’s underway, melt about 1/3 of a cup of vegan margarine in a small saucepan. I like to use either Earth Balance, or Becel Vegan. Both are non-hydrogenated, and vegan. Earth Balance gets the leg up for being a bit more healthy.

Once the margarine is melted, it’s time to add the Belsoy creamer.

Belsoy creamer
Soy milk or any other kind of milk is not a sufficient substitute for this. If you are against soy, you could possibly substitute Mimicreme creamer, that has an almond and cashew base. However, while this works, the end result is not as delicious as it is when the soy creamer is used. Whisk it all together over low heat.

Next, whisk in about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce (this dish can be gluten-free if a wheat free soy sauce is used), and half a cup of nutritional yeast. Spices that are needed included about 1/4 tsp. of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. onion powder. Adjust these to suit your taste.

Nutritional yeast
Cashew butter.

Keep whisking frequently. Add water as needed so that the sauce doesn’t get too thick. Then, for added smoothness, add about 1 tablespoon of cashew butter.

By now, your pasta should be pretty much done. Strain and rinse it, and put it into a 13 * 9 baking dish, preferably glass. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix it together. Sprinkle with Daiya cheddar cheez.

Pop it in the oven, which should be pre-heated on broil. Cook for five to ten minutes, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn. Serve.

The finished product

I’m not going to lie to you; this is not health food. But it’s way more healthy than traditional mac & cheese, and it’s just as delicious. It’s also kinder to animals! At our house we usually serve it with a nice big salad, or a green smoothie.

Try it on your non-vegan friends and family. I promise you, they will love it.

All-you-can-eat Ethiopian for $8.99

By Pamela

All you can eat vegetarian Ethiopian food for only $8.99? We are very lucky in Ottawa.
On Sunday my partner and I visited the East African Restaurant to try out their all-you-can-eat vegetarian (actually, vegan) Ethiopian buffet. We were going for a long hike after, and wanted something that would give us a lasting source of energy.

For $8.99 per person, you really can’t go wrong. The buffet features a half dozen hot dishes, mostly lentils and vegetables in sauce ranging from mild to very spicy, as well as a few cold options. There was no shortage of injera. I filled my plate twice.

Only one of the options at the buffet is on the restaurant’s usual vegetarian platter, and I’ll admit that I missed the other two. But there were new options I’d never tried, including spiced zucchini, which was delicious.

The buffet runs seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. While NCVA members have a 10 per cent discount here, it does not apply to the buffet. But if you’re looking to fill up on the cheap, this is a good way to do it. We followed our meal with a two hour hike on some of Gatineau Park’s toughest trails, and were still satiated five hours later.

East African Restaurant
376 Rideau Street
Ottawa
http://www.ethiopianrestaurantottawa.com/

The Goods on Green Earth

By Erin

I suspect that a lot of Ottawa vegans have already tried Green Earth. I’ve decided to review it anyway, however, each time I try a new item. I figure this might be helpful since their menu is so large that it’s certain there are things on it that even frequent visitors haven’t tried.

A few general comments. First, I’ve just got to say that the food is damn good. I haven’t had a bad or even mediocre meal there yet. Second, all-you-can-eat-buffet Green Earth and order-off-the-menu Green Earth are almost like two different restaurants. The latter is dominated by an almost obscene profusion of fake meat that will have you floating home like a buoyant ball of wheat protein on a sea of sodium. Deserving of a shouted “Nom!” followed by a week of only raw kale.

The regular menu is quite a different story. Once I, a veteran of the glutton’s utopia that is the buffet, got over the shock and disappointment of the sensible portion sizes, I was very impressed by its diversity. It not only combines east Asian and Indian, but offers a number of Italian and several Mexican dishes as well.

Last Thursday, my partner and I got the “Harmonic Veggie Delite,” which is your standard combo of fake meat and veggies in an east Asian-type sauce. It was very good though the portion was, as I mentioned, of an annoyingly sensible size. We also got “Conchiglie Ripiene,” which is large pasta shells stuffed with a ricotta-type mixture and served with marinara sauce. Green Earth often serves a very delicious lasagna at their buffet, so I had pretty high hopes for the stuffed shells. Upon reflection, I suppose it might strike me as disappointing that I didn’t actually try anything new, since the shells really turned out to be the lasagna, differently shaped. But then the bloody things were just so good, how can one really complain? The faux ricotta had no tofu-y aftertaste and their marinara is rich and flavourful (and plentiful! God loves those who are not cheap with sauce).

We also had an order of “Paradise Sushi” to start. I’m incensed by the obscene markup on sushi and since the stuff we make at home has it all over most restaurants, I rarely have it when I go out. On the rare occasions when I do have restaurant sushi, I tend to critique it pretty harshly. I will grudgingly admit that Green Earth’s sushi is good…and since it’s a small, inexpensive appetizer, my anti-markup madness doesn’t get too out of hand. If I want to be picky, I’ll note that the pieces are a bit too large for a single mouthful…that’s a problem for sushi since it’s pretty much impossible to bite a piece in half without spilling the innards all over yourself.

We ended our meal with the chocolate cheesecake. Now I must say, I have had many a gross vegan chocolate cheesecake in my time. Grainy, beany, soupy, I have tried them all. But I honestly defy even the most seasoned cheesecake connoisseur to distinguish Green Earth’s chocolate cheesecake from a regular dairy cheesecake. It is dense and chocolately, with that amazing tang for which cheesecake is known. As good as it was, though, I’ll try the almond chocolate cake next time. Two our our supper-mates got it and it looked amazing. All chocolate layers and fluffy mocha frosting – mocha looking anyway, as I gazed longingly at it from afar.

So another marvelous meal at Green Earth – and all for $28, I should add. Needless to say, if you haven’t been, go. Until next time (when I think I’ll try one of the Mexican dishes), happy vegan eating.

NCVA’s Shaun dishes on Ethiopian cuisine


Is Ethiopian food the best vegetarian food you’ve never had? Quite possibly!

By Shaun Desjardins
NCVA

Shaun's homemade ethiopian fare

We Ottawans are a fortunate bunch. No, not because we’re the shawarma capital of North America. We’re fortunate because we have not one, not two but FOUR Ethiopian restaurants in town. And guess what? They’re all GREAT!

Most large Canadian and American cities have one or two restaurants from the horn of Africa if they’re lucky.

Like many of you I had driven up and down Rideau Street countless times without seriously considering a meal at one of the three East African restaurants lining the street. (Ottawa’s fourth Ethiopian restaurant is Blue Nile on Gladstone)

Also like many of you I usually ended up spending my hard earned Canuck bucks at one of the seemingly dozens of Lebanese Restaurants in the area.

My infatuation with Ethiopian cuisine started about a year ago when I was bored with my usual rotation of restaurants and wanted to try something different.

My wife Amanda and I were meeting another couple for a sit-down meal in the market area and our friends being the good sports they are agreed to try out Ethiopian food with us at the East African Restaurant on Rideau Street. The rest, as they say, is history.

So you may ask, “Shaun–aka Ottawa’s self proclaimed Ethiopian cuisine expert–what’s so great about Ethiopian food and what’s the best Ethiopian restaurant in town?”

And I’d probably respond, “Well, fictitious person asking questions, the answers aren’t as complex as the flavour of perfectly balanced berbere, a staple spice blend in Ethiopian cooking. The reasons why I think Ethiopian cuisine is great are:

1. LOTS OF VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN OPTIONS

Ethiopians traditionally eat vegetarian more than 200 days a year which means that Ethiopian restaurants will have an abundance of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

2. A VARIETY OF FLAVOURS

East African cuisine also caters to the palates of spicy food lovers as well as those who don’t fancy needing a fire extinguisher table side. For example mesir wat (my favourite) is a red lentil stew made up of red lentils, onion, garlic, ginger and berbere spice is a delicious and SPICY stew while kik alicha (Amanda’s favourite) is a mild yellow split pea stew with some garlic, ginger and turmeric in there.

3. GREAT FOR SHARING

The wats are served on a large slightly sour crêpe type bread called injera which is placed in the centre of the table.

4. INEXPENSIVE AND EASY TO MAKE AT HOME

Ethiopian stews or wats as they are known are generally pretty easy to make at home and are SUPER easy on the wallet to boot! I buy my injera from either East African Restaurant or Habesha as it’s quite difficult and time consuming to make at home.

5. HEALTHY AND NUTRITIOUS

This is some seriously healthful food! Since these dishes are usually comprised of beans, lentils or legumes and spices you’re getting a bunch of fibre and complex carbs and that ever so important macro nutrient for vegetarians, protein.

6. FEWER DISHES TO CLEAN

When eating Ethiopian cuisine you break off a piece of injera and “scoop” up the stews or wats as they are known. Also, everyone eats from the same dish. No utensils and one plate mean fewer dishes to clean!

As for the best Ethiopian restaurant in Ottawa, there is no clear winner.

Seriously, I’ve had delicious food at all four of Ottawa’s restaurants. However, a special mention goes to East African Restaurant as they offer a 10 per cent discount to all NCVA members and they have an $8.99 Vegetarian lunch buffet from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. (seven days a week)

Great Shaun,” you might say, “I’m sold on trying this supposedly scrumptious cuisine from eastern horn of the great continent of Africa but….WHAT DO I DO NEXT???”

Well luckily for you I’ve prepared a list with the answer to that very question!

Here’s what you do:

1. Pick one of Ottawa’s four Ethiopian restaurants

East African Restaurant (NCVA Members receive a 10% discount) 376 Rideau Street (613) 789-7397

The Horn of Africa 364 Rideau Street (613) 789-0025

Habesha 574 Rideau (613) 761-6120

Blue Nile Restaurant 577 Gladstone Avenue (613) 321-0774

2. Get some friends to come along with you. Remember, Ethiopian food is great for sharing!

3. Order the vegetarian combination plate (which is vegan) and enjoy!

4. Send the NCVA an email to thank us for introducing you to some of the most flavourful, healthful and just plain tasty food you’ve ever had.

I’ll be posting a few of my favourite tried and tested Ethiopian recipes in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

 



Have you been to Cafe My House?

Back in May, the NCVA was excited and intrigued to find the word “vegan” appear on the sign of a cafe in Ottawa’s South end. It was for Cafe My House, and thanks in part to the NCVA’s promotion, word has spread like wildfire about this little cafe, where the menu is about 75 per cent vegan and where even raw foodists and gluten-intolerant people can find a good meal.  And did we mention it’s mostly vegan?

NCVA volunteer Tanya Hanham wrote the following review for Capital Veg News:

Cafe My House's "Healthy Me" vegan brunch platter. Side of potatoes is optional.

I had heard rumblings about a new vegan-friendly restaurant on Bank Street and I had to try it myself. Check it out, even the sign prominently declares its animal friendly nature. Needless to say, I was excited.

Cafe My House is reincarnated from its previous (more) east end location and is a family owned business that appears to focus on healthy food. While there are a couple of meat options, there are approximately twenty choices on the menu that are vegan and that does not include sides, drinks or extensive smoothie list. Impressive, to say the least.

Breakfast boasts vegan versions of the usual options like pancakes, french toast and (tofu) scramble while also including the intriguing Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf. Vegan breakfast sans oatmeal is hard to come by in Ottawa restaurants so Cafe My House is a welcome sight for hungry brunching vegans. I didn’t eat breakfast during my visit but that just means I have an excuse to go back.

Lunch looks promising too. They have a few different soups, salads and sandwiches as well as tasty sounding starters they call “House Bites.” I’ll probably try the quesadilla or the mango-zucchini roll next time I stop by for lunch.

Finally the main courses. I had a lot of trouble deciding what I wanted and who wouldn’t with choices like Creamy Sesame Soba Noodles, Earthy Vegetable Curry and Tofu Mushroom Steak. In the end, after a recommendation from the friendly server, I chose Vegetarian BiBim-Bop. What now? This was a tasty Korean rice dish topped with a variety of delicious sautéed vegetables and nori all covered with a spicy chili sauce. I ended up asking for extra chili sauce because I like things with a lot of heat and flavour and the extra kick made for an excellent dish.

What about dessert? Of course I couldn’t pass up the vegan dessert of the day, a black bean hazelnut brownie. The brownie was fudgy and dense and not too sweet, pairing nicely with the light warm fudge sauce poured liberally over top for a lovely presentation. Decadent.

But don’t take my word for it. Make your way down to 1729 Bank Street, just south of Heron, and try out Ottawa’s newest vegan friendly restaurant for yourself. I dare say you won’t be disappointed.

For contact info and restaurant hours, click here:

Cafe my house

NEW: 10% discount for NCVA members at Auntie Loos

NCVA membership just got sweeter, when Ottawa’s beloved Auntie Loo announced that she wanted to show NCVA members some love with a 10 per cent discount. The discount applies to anything purchased at her store front (507 Bronson Avenue) or ordered, except for wedding cakes.

Auntie Loo is a great example of a home-grown, vegan business. She even recently won “Best Bakery” recognition in Capital XPress, as voted by readers.  Here’s a story we published about her in our most recent newsletter, Capital Veg News:

Ottawa's own Auntie Loo!

Made locally, with love, at Auntie Loos

By Pamela Eadie

There’s nothing quite like fresh, made with love baked goods. And nobody knows that better than Amanda Lunan, more commonly known as Ottawa’s “Auntie Loo.”

While her baked goods have been available at Ottawa area natural food stores for several years now, Auntie Loo opened her storefront one year ago, much to the delight of vegans and cupcake enthusiasts. It was the culmination of many years of hard work and perseverance.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was in a band and working at a coffee shop. I would make these cakes for my friends, and someone told me I could make a lot of money selling them,” Auntie Loo explains.

“But I figured nobody would want my crappy cake.”

Was she ever wrong. The same friend talked her into selling her creations at a Ladyfest Craft sale in 2004. She was a hit. Inspired, she completed a small business diploma program at Algonquin College, and joined the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which gives young people a salary while they get their business started.

She baked her heart out while renting space at a bakery that was closed overnight. Fellow vegan baking aficionado, Brad Campeau of B.Goods cookies, mentored her. She built a loyal following through LadyFest and other events, and by having her goods in health food stores.

But then the Youth Entrepreneurship Program ran out, and she was at a crossroads. “It was do or die,” she says. With help from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, she was able to find and rent her own retail location, on Bronson Avenue.

She’s also expanded her wedding cake business, with help from her “right hand man” Kate Veinot. Auntie Loos currently has two part time employees, and two volunteer pastry students from Algonquin College.

Her repertoire of treats is constantly changing with the seasons, but the one constant is that they’re always vegan. There are also soy-free and gluten-free options. Treats include a wide variety of cupcakes, squares, pastries, brownies, and cakes. She caters special events and welcomes special orders.

“I never expected a response from the community like this. It’s been awesome,” Auntie Loo says. “People like to come in and see where the food is coming from. It’s important to me to be really transparent.” Auntie Loos uses organic products whenever possible, and works with and purchases from small local businesses.

Most of her clients are not vegan, but, “when they’re buying a cupcake from me, they’re not buying one that has animal products. Most people who come in don’t care. They just like that it tastes good.”

Her love of animals has inspired her along the way. “I really love animals. The reason I went vegetarian was because a cow truck passed me on the highway when I was five years old. That’s when I realized how meat was made,” she says. She’s been vegan for more than 10 years.

These days, she’s at the forefront of Ottawa’s burgeoning vegan community. “It’s my contribution,” she says. “I just think it’s important that people make informed choices.”

http://www.auntieloostreats.ca
507 Bronson Avenue
613-238-ALOO

Veg Fest ’09 and ’10

The NCVA is small, but mighty: In 2009 and 2010 we put on two Veg Fest events at Ottawa’s Glebe Community Centre, which attracted a combined 4,000 attendees! Pretty amazing for a tiny, 100% volunteer-run organization.

Each Veg Fest (title sponsored by The Table Vegetarian Restaurant: http://www.thetablerestaurant.com) featured roughly 30 exhibitors, three food demonstrators, and three guest speakers. A silent auction raised funds for the NCVA. Other sponsors have included ZenKitchen, Green Earth Vegetarian Restaurant, Rainbow Natural Foods, and Market Organics.

Our guest speakers have included high profile names including Brenda Davis, RD (www.brendadavisrd.com), Jae Steele (www.getitripe.com), Gene Baur (www.farmsanctuary.org), and Dr. Michael Greger (www.drgreger.org).

We are currently sorting out the details for Veg Fest ’11. Stay tuned for more information!