Vegans are not the ones forcing their views on society

Every vegan has heard the tiresome accusation that vegans “force their views” on others.

It’s often witnessed in the comments section of online articles – even those penned by non vegan journalists,  based in science and evidence – that touch on the many benefits of the vegan lifestyle, or the down side of the status quo.

But I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me personally that they only like those vegans who don’t “force their views on people.”  What does that even mean? They only like vegans who are silent about their beliefs and their choices?  Or are there really armies of vegans out there cruelly forcing themselves on beleaguered non-vegans who are just trying to live and let live?  As a vegan community organizer who knows hundreds of real life vegans, that just doesn’t match up with my experience.

Yet with each new scientific article, study,  newly ignited celebrity vegan champion, or mainstream uprising against a specific kind of animal cruelty, the refrain is repeated.  “Vegans are forcing their views on everyone!”  (Vegetarians sometimes experience the same accusation, but also make it against vegans.)

This is true.
This is true.

Before I get into the specifics of how vegan view forcing is a pale shadow of the overwhelming rule of the status quo, non-vegans, try to imagine something.

Imagine you have spent your life going with the flow, and eating and wearing whatever you want, whenever you want it. (Observationally, it never seems to be marginalized or impoverished people making the accusation that vegans are forcing their views.)

Then imagine you come to the realization that something you are doing each and every single day is having a tragic impact on our physical environment, results in the  deaths of billions of innocent animals, and is in fact on the whole undeniably awful for human health.

And instead of turning away from this, as most people do, you sit with it. You let it marinate in your mind, and you become conscious of not only the horror and the devastation, but also, the immense power you have to change your own behaviour. To opt out of the system of oppression and suffering that you’ve uncovered – and now cannot turn away from.

Now imagine that you also – based in a deep and abiding love for your friends and family – assume that the people you know and love can’t possibly be aware of what you’ve learned. Because surely, if they knew, they would stop participating in the actions that are causing so much needless devastation.

Wouldn’t you want to share the information to help the people you love?  To help the animals? To help the world become a kinder place?

And wouldn’t you be surprised – even distraught – if your loved ones chose to ignore or fight the information that you were providing?

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This is not “forcing views” on others.  This is learning, sharing, and growing – on everyone’s part. It isn’t easy to make big changes to our diet and lifestyle.  People very often change their beliefs FIRST, but then struggle to align their actions with those.

It’s easy to understand why many people become defensive and upset when presented with information that challenges their actions, and their view of themselves.  It’s actually really hard to avoid using and abusing animals in our society. Our society is structured to make it EASY to exploit animals.

That’s something each individual needs to deal with internally – and then either move towards change, or don’t. Shooting the messenger helps no-one.

All animal advocates have is the conviction of their beliefs, and the strength of their own voices.

The “vegan views” that are being “forced” upon others are rooted in a powerful sense of justice, and the urgency to use their voices to somehow make a difference in the lives of animals. They are pleas for compassion, kindness, and consideration for the world outside of one’s own palate.

On the other hand, here are just a few fun facts about the “views” that we absorb from the animal agriculture and food industry – what I was able to find in about 20 minutes of googling:

  • The Dairy Farmers of Canada alone have an $80-million yearly marketing budget.
  • In order to increase domestic pork consumption the Canadian pork industry has implemented a  successful marketing strategy reaching consumers directly through advertising and recipe dissemination, and indirectly via programs with influences, such as the media and health professionals, the retail and the foodservice trade.
  • In America, Fast food advertising – increased by 8% between 2009 and 2012, reaching $4.63 billion including $2.3 billion targeted at children under the age of 11
  • The fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children.
  • Kids watch an average of more ten food-related ads every day (nearly 4,000/year).
  • Nearly all (98 percent) of food advertisements viewed by children are for products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. Most (79 percent) are low in fiber.
  • Only 21% of youth age 6-19 eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • By 2030, American healthcare costs attributable to poor diet and inactivity could range from $860 billion to $956 billion, which would account for 15.8 to 17.6 percent of total healthcare costs, or one in every six dollars spent on healthcare.
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From www.myveganjournal.com

In contrast, game changing start up Beyond Meat (a company putting considerable efforts into engineering fake plant-based meat products that look and taste like the real thing) announced in late 2015 that it had raised $17 million in start up investment for product development.  That’s only a few days worth of junk food advertising directed at children.

Sure, there are other vegan brands that do a bit of marketing, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to big agriculture, fast food, and grocery.  Barely even a blip.

We have all been more or less indoctrinated into terrible habits that do NOT serve us, or the world within which we live, since we were old enough to breathe. THAT is what vegans are fighting against, and what each of us is up against when we try to bring our actions into alignment with our stated values of peace and respect for all beings.

As a new vegetarian, I remember how hurt I felt when some vegans I’d met on the internet informed me about the reality of dairy and egg production during yet another thread on Veggieboards.com seeking “humane” dairy and egg options. “Those vegans are so holier than thou!! They think they’re so much better than me!” I seethed.

It wasn’t until I made the decision to become vegan that I realized the problem wasn’t them; it was ME and my emotional responses to the ethics-driven position that they’d taken. They weren’t being holier-than-thou; they were living their lives according to their values, and sharing information that I didn’t want to hear which made me feel judged. When I was honest with myself, nobody had been rude about presenting this information; my reaction was entirely due to my own feelings of guilt. The simple act of being vegan is taken as a personal judgement.

The information vegans (and for that matter, participants of any social justice movement) are sharing isn’t comfortable information. It is never an enjoyable experience to realize that actions which we undertake every single day are causing harm – to ourselves, to the environment, and to the animals.

Vegans “forcing their views” – to whatever extent that there’s a kernel of truth – comes from a sense of frustration and urgency over the horrors that animals are enduring every second of every day. They want the exploitation of animals to stop, NOW.

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As a vegan who has tried to speak openly to hundreds, or maybe even thousands of non-vegans about veganism, I am truly sorry if you felt I was “forcing” it on you and if that evoked negative feelings for any of you, although I hope you can try to open yourself up to understanding the  urgency I feel about making things better for animals.

If you’re someone who feels judged by someone else’s veganism in the absence of overt condemnation, consider that  maybe you have some things to work out with your own conscience.   Remember that you – and everyone around you – have been subjected to a relentless stream of messaging and advertising, designed to normalize a treatment of animals that most of us find truly abhorrent when forced to confront its reality.  Any vegans who are talking to you about veganism are aware of what you’re subjected to, because they too had the same experience.

We live in a society in which  98% of restaurants have animal ingredients in 98% of their menu items, in which every holiday is celebrated with ritualistic dead animal eating,  in which it’s still socially acceptable to mock vegans. A society in which millions of animals are euthanized in shelters every year, most people wear animals, and events like “Rib Fests” and “Bacon Fest” are sanctioned by the government.

Think about that for a minute. Please, don’t try to tell me that it’s vegans who are forcing their views.

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about the lifestyle – there are so many resources available!  I’ve listed some below.  Or if you’re someone who has already carefully considered the ramifications of your lifestyle choices and have taken it as far as you’re currently willing, but respect and support vegans and the vegan way of living – thank you for not contributing to our marginalization.

Whatever you’ve settled on for your beliefs, own your choices and be true to your conscience.

And above all, be kind, always.


IMG_1493Get Pamela Tourigny’s Five Favourite Smoothies when you sign up for the Vegan Eats Ottawa newsletter here.  Pamela is an Ottawa-based expert on the topics of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also consults with  business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options.


A Few Resources for Vegan Information:

Ottawa Specific – Vegan Eats Ottawa

More general:

Vegucated list of links

Forks Over Knives

NutritionFacts.org

Oh, and a few more LOLZ

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The dramatic fall – and triumphant comeback – of Auntie Loo

In spring 2015, Mandi Lunan and Auntie Loo’s Treats – Ottawa’s first vegan bakery – seemed to be on top of the world.

They had sold out of treats during a wildly successful Veg Fest in early June, they had held a successful vegan brunch pop up, and had secured wider distribution than anyone ever could have imagined.  The bakery had just introduced vegan macarons using aquafaba, which was all the rage, and people were going wild for them.

Then on June 19, seemingly out of the blue, Auntie Loo’s Treats announced that it was closing the next day via a message on Facebook. The vegan and foodie communities in Ottawa were left reeling.


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Mandi and Pamela at the Save ZenKitchen fundraiser, June 2014.

Ali Pester is one customer who was shocked.  “On a more personal level, I knew it would really change the Ottawa vegan scene and the presence of veganism in our community at large and my own relationship with the city. It was such a well-known establishment and most of my non-vegan friends, who wouldn’t have regularly made the decision to choose a cruelty-free treat, loved Auntie Loo’s and credited it for being delicious and accessible vegan food,” Pester says.

Pester had discovered the bakery as a new vegan at the age of 17.  “I ventured to Auntie Loo’s to try my first vegan baked good. Not only was Mandi so kind and helpful to me when she found out I had decided to go vegan, but her food was amazing and helped me to really believe that veganism was something I could do for the rest of my life.”

I learned about the bakery closing when Mandi called me, asking for help with her written statement.  On the heels of the death of ZenKitchen, I was crushed. I knew it couldn’t compare to what Mandi or her staff were experiencing though.

After the announcement was posted, speculation swiftly followed.  Many wondered if they had not supported the bakery enough.  Others questioned the seemingly explosive growth of the previous couple of years.  There was plenty of snark, but there was also a tremendous sense of loss (to read my post on it, including the statement issued on social media, click here).

Mandi Lunan promptly disappeared from public view, keeping in touch with only her family and a small handful of people.  She felt humiliated, and couldn’t bear to face anyone.

“Devastated is not a strong enough word for how I felt,” she told me recently.  “The hardest part was disappointing and letting down everyone who had trusted and believed in me, but I own my mistakes. The demise of the business was no one’s fault but my own, and I’m still trying to forgive myself for it.”

So, what happened?  How could a business that appeared to be thriving close its doors so suddenly?

The accidental entrepreneur

Mandi Lunan became a bakery owner almost by accident.  Upon first becoming vegan in 2000, she was disappointed by the lack of edible vegan options.

“When I moved to Ottawa in 2002, I began baking rich tasty goodies for friends and roomies,” she says. “Then co-workers started giving me money to cook vegan meals and treats for the week for them. Then I got roped into a craft show. The response was massive. I realized I had a business on my hands.”

Punk music promoter Shawn Scallen made it his personal mission to get Lunan up and selling desserts in Ottawa, and finally after beginning by wholesaling to a few local health food stores, Lunan was able to open her first location on Bronson Avenue.

“After a few years of craft sales, business school, personal orders and being incubated (when you use a city approved facility to produce your product), I opened my first location on Bronson Ave in 2009. It was one of my favorite memories and accomplishments, and was years in the making!” Lunan says.  The business continued growing; Farm Boy became a point of sale, followed by Aramark and Algonquin Food Services. For a period Auntie Loo’s Treats were available at Second Cup cafes.

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Photo by Ben Welland.

When the producers of Donut Showdown called from the Food Network and invited Lunan to audition, she could hardly believe it. “Something so small I did for fun became an internationally known brand. I was thrilled,” she says.

The Ottawa vegan community was also thrilled to see one of its own not only gaining so much prominence, but also providing much-needed vegan options.  Michael Schnier was one of them.  “It was just three blocks north of my old apartment in Sandy Hill, and I was sad to see it go,” says  Schnier, who runs the @YOWVeggies Twitter account.  “In my experience, omnivore bakeries, cafes, pubs, and restaurants can be very good at accommodating vegan customers, but I have given up on reading desert menus. I’m not sure if I have ever been to a non-vegetarian sit down restaurant that had a single desert option I could order.”

But Auntie Loo’s filled that void. “What Auntie Loo’s offered was variety. Sweet and savoury scones, half a dozen different flavours of cupcakes all with perfect icing, and pizza rolls made with Daiya,” Schnier says.

By 2013 the bakery was juggling huge clients, so Lunan decided to move and expand the bakery to accommodate the growing demand.  It opened on Nelson Avenue in Fall 2013.

It should have been the business’ critical next step to success.

Death by a thousand cuts

The move did not go as planned.

“I hired all the wrong people for the construction and underestimated the permit process with the city of Ottawa,” Lunan says. Construction dragged on for months. Managing the day to day of the business and trying to build the new space ran her ragged.

She admits to struggling with mental illness her whole life, and says that the added stress took her out. “I wasn’t sleeping, having nightmares and panic attacks, and just generally burning out. I should have asked for more help, but I was proud and didn’t. This was my first mistake.”

With the bakery finally up and running, it seemed like Lunan and her team were in the home stretch.  But the trauma lingered. Lunan couldn’t get it together.

“I was so burnt out I didn’t prepare for finances properly. I was overwhelmed,” she says.

Lunan was once again kicked while already down; in June 2014 she had a bicycle accident, shattering her right leg between her knee and ankle.  She endured nine hours of surgery and the insertion of multiple metal plates, and given a recovery time of one year.  She would be unable to walk for the first 4 to 6 of those months.

But the world wasn’t finished with her. “Upon calling my insurance, I was I informed that I wasn’t covered for loss of labour for myself. The burden fell to my staff and family. I was exhausted and again, didn’t ask for help,” she says.

Knock out punch

After half a year of of being almost entirely unable to work, Lunan attempted to return to manage the business.

“Upon my return, the business was in financial turmoil due to me being physically unable to do my job. I ignored all the warning signs and continued to avoid the financial issues. I had no fight left, I was too burnt out.”

For my part, I  sensed that all was not right.  She was kind and pleasant as always, but I could sense there was an edge. But when asked, she insisted she was fine.  On the surface everything seemed great.

In June 2015, she says the Canada Revenue Agency called and told her that everything she had now belonged to them; accounts, space, outstanding payments clients owed her, everything.

“I was devastated and had no choice but to abruptly close my business. In not paying attention to my self care, in not asking for help, in not addressing the issues head on and making hard decisions, I had let down everyone. My staff who had trusted me for their livelihood, my family, and my customers,” Lunan says.

Rock Bottom

Lunan had realized that she had nowhere to turn, and no way to salvage the business. She had let things become too far gone, and the dream was over.

On June 18, she had shared adorable photos of a resident squirrel to the bakery’s Facebook, to the delight of customers. On June 19, she announced the business closing, and on June 20, the last Auntie Loo’s treats were sold.

And with that, the deafening noise in Mandi’s head was silenced.  There was nothing left.

“I fell apart. My father came and got me to stay with them in their tiny hamlet in Prince Edward County until I was better. I was so despondent I had to be supervised and was not even allowed to drive a car. I pulled away from everyone and everything. Turned off my phone, deleted my social media, deleted my email,” she says.

Her partner took her to France for a few weeks in August, and her profound sadness persisted.  “Though I enjoyed the experience, I was deeply sad during the trip too, and couldn’t hide it. That’s when I knew I was truly heartbroken- you have to be pretty fucked up to be sad in France!”

Upon her return, she went back to her parents’ home and tried to figure out her next move.   In September, a longtime friend offered her an admin job with his company.

“I learned that you can’t be admin once you’ve been the boss. I did a few months there before we all realized it was a mistake. We consciously uncoupled. That’s when I decided it was time to apply my knowledge and network,” she says.

And with that, her consulting firm, This Charming Mandi, was born. (You can follow her in IG: @thischarmingmandi) and Facebook.)

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Recovering: Mandi Lunan. Photo by Chris Wattie.

A brighter future

“I’ve learned that entrepreneurs are forever,” Lunan says. “Trying to work a 9-5 seemed like a luxury, but ended up being difficult as I was not accustomed to it, and I struggled not being the boss.”

These days, she is working part time at the LCBO while building her consulting business. She enjoys the friendly low-stress interaction with LCBO customers.

So far her consulting clients have included a government run daycare centre, a tiny restaurant, a rock band, and even some visual artists. She offers services including business plan writing, speaking and lectures, social media strategy, and an “introduction” service for which she pairs clients with people from her personal network based on personalities and needs.

“What I’ve learned in the past year is that I’m so much more than just the Auntie Loo’s brand. There’s value in my life, in my knowledge, in my family and friends,” she says.

Her longtime friend Mailyne Mae agrees. She first met Mandi in Small and Medium Enterprise Management at Algonquin College, and says that while Mandi  was courageous enough to pursue her passions,  she had not yet reached that point .  “When I finally jumped into self-employment, Mandi was always at the forefront of my mind, ” she says.  “She gave me courage and words of wisdom and was even one of my first clients. To me, Mandi wasn’t someone I knew as a vegan baker, she was and is a dear friend who has inspired me and who also happened to feed me through her baking. The closing of her business has definitely left a hole in the community but it will never leave a hole in our hearts, especially not mine.”

Lunan has also been working diligently on an upcoming cookbook, Auntie Loo for You, with a planned late autumn release.  She will be sharing her favorite recipes from the bakery, as well as many of the ones she makes at home.

Now that she’s given herself an entire year to grieve, she is ready to resume being the fabulous Mandi Loo.  She’s cleaned up her diet and shed 30 pounds, has her business designed, and has taken tentative steps back into the public eye, on social media and otherwise.

“I was welcomed back with open arms and frankly, it was overwhelming. There were tears in my eyes as the well wishes poured in. I love this community so much,” she says. “The support I’ve received through all of this means everything.”

“I’m still in recovery so I have my down days or things that make me sad. I’m slowly coping and moving on, doing the best I can and being grateful for what I have now. There’s a lot of joy in my life, and I’m happy.”


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Get Pamela Tourigny’s Five Favourite Smoothie when you sign up for the Vegan Eats Ottawa newsletter here.  Pamela is an Ottawa-based expert on the topics of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also consults with  business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options.

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Vegans, we are SO on point

Dear vegans,

I know that it is really challenging right now not to be discouraged about some of the terrible things that are happening to animals. It’s one thing after another – Harambe the gorilla, Juma the Jaguar, the  breed specific legislation nonsense in Quebec that could see thousands of dogs sentenced to death because of their appearance. This is layered on top of the day to day devastation that we are keenly aware is happening in the background.  It can be really hard to not feel despair, and hopelessness.

Summer also represents the time for Rib Fests far and near, with several new ones popping up in Ottawa alone this year.  Rib Fest is the ultimate assertion of carnivorousness, and raises the ire of vegans and vegetarians in a way few other things do.  It’s hard not to feel like we’re losing the battle when it’s seen as seen as socially acceptable, and even cool, to eat the flesh off of the rib cage of a formerly living being.

We may not be winning the Rib Fest battle, but the good news is that all indicators show that we are making serious traction with winning the war. Never have we ever been more socially accepted, and never before has vegan food and lifestyle appealed to so many people.  Vegans and allies, we are so on point right now that it’s ridiculous.

Here are five things that show how very on point we are.

1. According to Google Trends, people are looking for information about the vegan lifestyle in record numbers. Look at how vegan compares to vegetarian, paleo and gluten-free. For all the noise you hear about the latter two from nutritionists and “natural health” proponents, it’s VEGAN that people are searching for.  Even just between 2014 and 2015, google searches for “vegan” increased by 32%!

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2. Places can’t keep up with the demand for vegan options. A few examples: One Ottawa gelato shop has said that demand for their vegan gelato options is so strong that they got cleaned out as soon as their vegan flavours arrived.  Vegan bakery Strawberry Blonde brought in soft serve ice cream this past week, but haven’t been able to keep it in stock. And a non-vegan restaurant made special vegan sausages from scratch to serve on Canada Day.

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3. Top people in every field are speaking out in favour of veganism. Arnold Schwartzenegger, California governor and the most famous body builder of all time, is advocating for eliminating meat from ones diet, and has spoken of its immense environmental impact. Incidentally, the world’s strongest man and top ultra marathoner are also vegan… along with some of the world’s most well known business people, politicians, and entertainers.  Bill Gates is backing Beyond Meat, which as the mission of creatingmass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.

The Washington Post published an article recently called Meat is Horrible, and increasingly online dialogues on the topic show a level of thoughtfulness previously unheard of; even those who are not vegan are increasingly acknowledging that perhaps they ideally should be.  (There are also still plenty of people whose contributions are limited to “I love meat!” and “But bacon, tho.”)

4. Mainstream brands are introducing vegan versions of their products; and they aren’t accidentally vegan.  Gay Lea has a vegan coconut whipped cream. Becel has vegan margarine.  Hellman’s has introduced vegan mayo.  Ben & Jerry’s has jumped on board with vegan ice cream.  These introductions have helped to put vegan products on the same shelves with their non-vegan counterparts, introducing them to a whole new audience.  In the United States, you can buy vegan Just Mayo at the dollar store. The dollar store!

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5. The most influential health organizations in the world are using the V word.  The World Health Organization and The United Nations have both recently called for people to adopt plant-based diets in their reports. Okay so maybe the UN and WHO aren’t trendy, but it’s definitely indicative that the science supporting vegan and plant-based diets has attained mainstream acceptance and support.  Plus, the President of the American College of Cardiology and Chief of Cardiology at Rush University, Dr. Kim Williams, is a vegan and advocates a plant-based diet for heart disease prevention.

We are making headway.  I get it – we are all impatient and want to see faster progress, as lives depend on it – I’ve been vegan for 12 years and have been waiting longer than many.   We are reaching the critical mass.  Hang tight, and keep being vegan loud and proud. Keep it positive, and show people how it’s done.  A better, kinder world is just around the corner.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~ Ghandi


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Get Pamela Tourigny’s no-fuss recipes when you sign up for the Vegan Eats Ottawa newsletter here.  Pamela is an Ottawa-based expert on the topics of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also consults with  business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options.

The inside scoop on Little Jo Berry’s new vegan coffee shop

By now you may have heard the news: in just two and half weeks, Ottawa will be getting its very own entirely vegan coffee shop/bakery/take out counter, operated by former Auntie Loo head baker Josephine Masterson (aka Little Jo Berry, after whom the coffee shop is named!)

Little Jo Berry’s is opening at 1305 Wellington St. W.  on March 19. I spoke to Josephine about her endeavour.

PT: Tell us what visitors can expect when they visit Little Jo Berry’s!

LJB: Our concept for decor was very minimal and clean with a few retro throwbacks, but over all we wanted to create a space that would work as a perfect canvas for our treats and coffee. We had seen so many spaces, but what we liked about 1305 Wellington was that it was an empty shell. The floors weren’t even done. My brother, a plumber and all around tradesman, immediately got to work and we completely designed and created our own space. We built the space with our own hands, it was so fun and personal to our vision.

LJB1As we built we had so many small businesses and friends reaching out to help supply us with things we may need. My business mentor and close friend Julia Graham, owner of The Quirky Carrot, reached out about equipment. Her father was about to retire, he had owned a bakery, Fred’s Bread in Kingston, for over 20 years. He wanted to know if I wanted to come up to Kingston and check out some of his showcases and work tables. So we drove up the next day.  It was so beautiful, all these gorgeous oak tables and shelves that he had built his business on. We were very luck to have access to these. We are so fortunate to have them in our shop now; when you come in, you will see these showcases. He had those commissioned over 20 years ago and they found their way to LJB’s.

PT: Tell us about your path to opening a vegan cafe. 

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Jo (left) with Kate, also formerly of Auntie Loo’s Treats.

LJB:  Even when I was a kid I was starting all these ridiculous businesses. I remember being like 10 years old and starting a dog-sitting company and my parents being so proud and supportive. I hung flyers all over town and I imagined that was it, I had done it started my own business. The first call I got was a lady looking to have someone take her two huge dogs for a whole week. Obviously, I was in over my head and that business didn’t quite pan out. But after that it was a babysitting business, I was always cooking up the next idea.

When I was 20, I started doing Farmer’s Markets as Little Jo Berry’s, selling different raw, vegan treats and snacks. I grew up in the kitchen, cooking and visiting long hours with my dad. So creating recipes and learning about new ingredients came very naturally to me. As I did the Farmer’s Markets I realized I wanted to start baking as a career. That’s when I got in touch with Auntie Loo’s treats and how I landed my job there. I worked with them for four incredible years. Made my way to head baker. It’s where I learnt how to run a happy, positive kitchen.

After Auntie Loo’s shut down we were all devastated. It was shocking. My head was a mess, I imagined moving away or spending some time abroad working in some little shops. The day after it closed, I had a visit from my brother Jimmy, and he offered to help me build a kitchen and I immediately said yes. The next day I started a business plan and we began to look at spaces. It just felt right.

PT: What challenges have you run into? What have you learned through this process?

LJB2LJB:  There have been less challenges so far than I thought there would be. I think having a rich background in small business made me used to all the ups and downs, so I suppose they became a standard and I became less sensitive to them. I also think the warm welcome and all the support I receive on a daily basis makes this transition to business owner much easier for me. I can’t imagine not having so many great business relationships already formed to rely on. Any time I message anyone for advice, they are so excited to help and guide me. It’s really special so far, and I think that is a really big obstacle for most people.

I think right now, where I am, the biggest obstacle is leaving a comfortable work environment. I’m finishing out my last week at my barista job where I work with all my buds. I think it’s surreal to think about laughing and paling around one week to having my world completely flipped and owning the shop the next week. It feels like this huge step, but I can’t wait to take it!

PT:  What is special/unique about LJBs? What are its specialities?

LJB:  I think for us, what feels special is the excitement to play in the kitchen. To be able to keep a rotating menu, and try fresh treats and lunches. To be able to bake thing we would want to eat, so we can be as excited as the customers coming in for them. We think it’s really special to stay enthusiastic about your products and to be proud of your offerings. When people walk into a bakery or coffee shop they are always surrounded by wonder and excitement. We want to be able to match that feeling and validate that experience. So the unique thing for us is being able to truly get revved up about our own treats and not get stagnant. Obviously we plan to cater to as many different eating styles as we can. We have a tons of experience in alternative ways of baking including dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, etc. So we want to fill as many tummies as we can.

We also feel like our coffee is going to be very special. We want to create a positive mentality about the relationship between our customers and their baristas. We are using the slogan “Appreciate your Neighbourhood Baristas” as a narrative in our shop. Coffee culture is so important; having good coffee is literally the best thing. Trusting your barista, playing around with different brews and types of espresso is something people should feel comfortable with and engaged by. We are working on getting to know a few different roasters and suppliers for our shop who can support this concept.

PT:  What is your vision for its future?  For its role within Ottawa?

LJB6LJB:  Our vision for the shop…We have a really dreamy idea of where we see the shop going. Having my own place was always the big idea growing up. But I imagined the day to day through the relationships I would form. I envisioned it being more about my interactions with my patrons than anything else. I always worked in coffee shops, so I’ve always had that experience. Getting to know the regulars, watching kids grow up, seeing relationships form.  So naturally, it is very important for us to create that atmosphere in our space. We want our shop to grow with the community and be shaped by its regulars.  We want our space to feel like a neighbourhood space, a shop you feel warm and tender about. Having that bond with customers and that loyalty is the most important thing for us at LJB’s.

PT:  Help us get to know you!

LJB3LJB: I have the two cutest pups in the world, they take up the majority of my time. We get loads of time in cuddling.  Harris and Chugs, best boys in the world, never behaved a day in their life. I’m a homebody outside of work, I literally have the greatest group of friends. So mostly in my off time I like to spend it at home with them eating and visiting.

 

Little Jo Berry’s opens on March 19! Take out counter, some seating, and special orders, wholesale and catering.


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Pamela Tourigny is an Ottawa-based expert on the subjects of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also consults with  business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options.  Sign up to receive her monthly e-newsletter here.

Pizza Party! A Guide to Vegan Pizza in Ottawa

Pizza may just be the vegan holy grail.  It was only a few years ago that edible cheese substitutions became commercially available, but conventional pizzerias were not early adopters of these.

So while vegans could now make pizza at home, many were left yearning for authentic pizzeria crust and oven baked goodness.  We had a brief period of glory a few years ago when one Little Italy restaurant adopted Daiya with unbridled enthusiasm, only to have the restaurant go out of business (unrelated to its vegan pizza) a few weeks later.

In the past year or so in particular Ottawa’s vegan pizza scene has really taken off, and options are growing.  In this post I’ll share some of these.

Panago
1069 Bank St.

panago

The newest addition to Ottawa’s vegan pizza scene is pretty fantastic. Panago is a vegan-friendly pizza chain that has just opened its first Ottawa franchise in Old Ottawa South.  It offers Daiya as a free upgrade on personal pizzas (with a nominal fee for larger sizes), many vegan toppings, and even a gluten-free crust that is vegan.  They keep a cheat sheet behind the counter that clearly identifies which of its menu items and toppings are vegan.  The crust is what I always dreamed of during my many pizza-less years, and their topping application is generous.

This is not a sit down restaurant though; it is a take out counter with a few stools, à la Pizza Pizza.   But if take out is what you want, Panago is an excellent option. Prices start at $4.75 for a base personal pizza; my husband bought a well-topped large pizza for less than $20 that provided him with four meals.

Fiazza
86 Murray Street

fiazza pizza

Fiazza, located in the Byward Market, also offers Daiya cheese on its personal sized pizzas (which are bigger than the ones at Panago), however it is a $3 upgrade.  It also offers a variety of out of the ordinary toppings, such as roasted broccoli, and artichokes.  The personal pizzas are pricier than Panago’s, but are about 50% larger.

In the summer Fiazza has a lovely open air dining area; in the winter it is enclosed and still quite lovely.  It’s a great option if you want to go out with a group, as there is plenty of seating, but the bar stool seating also makes it comfortable if you’re dining alone. You can order Fiazza for delivery (if you live in the right areas) through Skip the Dishes.  They also carry Strawberry Blonde desserts.  Pro Tip: Fiazza’s gluten-free crust is NOT vegan.

Bread & Sons

Popular with the downtown lunchtime crowd, Bread & Sons offers eclectic thin crust vegan pizza by the slice. Cheeseless, but with creative topping combinations.  Vegans have raved about it for years. The downside?  Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and very limited seating in the small shop. Pro Tip: This is likely the healthiest pizza option on this list, aside from La Belle Verte’s raw pizza.

 

Pizza Pizza

 

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Good ol’ Pizza Pizza. Its traditional trust and sauce are confirmed to be vegan, and it has many of the standard toppings that you’d expect from a mainstream chain, and even some more sophisticated ones. NEW: As of February 2017, Pizza Pizza offers vegan cheese from a company called Violife as a no-cost upgrade!!  I do not have the patience or skill to make my own crust, and I’ve always enjoyed Pizza Pizza’s white flour gluteny goodness as a special treat.   Pro Tip: The whole wheat crust contains honey, and the gluten-free contains gelatin.

La Belle Verte
166 rue Eddy, Gatineau

This is not your typical white flour and tomato sauce pizza.  La Belle Verte pizza is raw, with a dehydrated sunflower seed, flax seed and sundried tomato crust. Toppings are largely dehydrated, and they have house-made “cheez” sauces.  Pro tip: This may not be the pizza to serve your “meat lovers pizza”-loving family member.

Little Jo Berry’s
Wellington West

Little Jo’s has pizza available every Friday! Buy it by the slice, or the whole pie. Ordering in advance is recommended. She has crazy and unique flavours like “tater tot.”  Follow her Instagram of Facebook to see what she has available each week!

What’s your favourite Ottawa vegan pizza spot?

Don’t feel like pizza? Check out the Vegan Eats Ottawa guide for other options.

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Pamela Tourigny is an Ottawa-based expert on the subjects of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also consults with  business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs, and with restaurants on adapting their menus to introduce plant-based options. Contact her here.  

Find Community

vegan potluckIf you’re looking for support – or just to make new friends! – check out the following existing veg communities, the products of many hours of dedicated volunteer effort.

Ottawa

National Capital Vegetarian Association
National Capital Vegetarian Association Facebook group
Ottawa Vegetarians & Vegans Facebook group
Ottawa Veg*n Meet Up Group

Montreal

Montreal Vegetarian Association
Montreal Vegetarian Association Facebook group

Toronto

Toronto Vegetarian Association
Toronto Vegetarian Association Facebook group

Holiday survival guide for vegans, those with allergies, and their hosts

I’ve moderated an active vegan/vegetarian Facebook group for about eight years, and every year leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas there is an onslaught of posts on the topic of not just how to prepare veg-friendly foods for the holidays, but also how to navigate the experience with curious – and occasionally hostile – dinner companions.

Those with allergies often encounter some similar difficulties, although people often perceive allergies as more legitimate than ethical reasons not to consume something.  Regardless, there can still be the anxiety of “imposing,” not being sure if accommodation will be available requiring you to spend the night hungry, and then of course concern over whether or not the food provided will be free of the ingredients in question (and the potential gastrointestinal ramifications if it is not!)

On the other hand, hosts are already anxious about pleasing their guests and over-run with a list of to-dos, and may be intimidated by the prospect of preparing food to which they’re not accustomed.  But it’s a growing need to fulfil:  Chances are, almost everyone has  at least one friend or family member who –  for either ethical or health reasons – is avoiding meat, dairy, or eggs, or allergens such as gluten, soy,or nuts.

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Field Roast with roasted squash, sauteed kale, and gravy.

First, some tips for guests.

  1. Don’t assume that your host knows how to accommodate you.  While we are used to our own dietary restrictions, most people are not and could use some help. Provide some concrete examples of the kind of food that you can/will eat, and link to recipes. Provide suggestions for easy ways to veganize or replace allergens in dishes that are already being made.  Try not to get hung up on ancillary and self-imposed restrictions like low oil, gluten-free (unless you’re genuinely allergic or have celiac), or only organic.
  2. Care bear share! Offer to your host that you can bring something to share, particularly if you’re invited to a gathering with limited food choices for you. It takes some of the burden off of your host, it ensures you will have something to eat, and it gives you an opportunity to show off vegan food.  Win-win-win!  Even if you don’t make something from scratch, a few rounds of Zengarry fauxmage and crackers is sure to be a crowd pleaser – and a conversation starter!
  3. Don’t feel badly. Especially if you’re a new vegan, you may feel terrible for “imposing” on your host, or intimidated by the looks you’re being given by others.  Stay firm with your beliefs and don’t let anyone make you question the legitimacy of your position.  Before long, nobody will even give it a second thought, and you may even change some people’s perceptions!
  4. Pre-eat or have purse snacks.  Sometimes it’s simply not possible to find vegan eats in an omnivorous setting.  In those cases, it’s best to just eat before you go, and/or carry a snack with you such as a some nuts, a Vega bar, or a granola bar.
  5. Show appreciation.  Show thanks and appreciation no matter what, and unless the food is absolutely horrifically awful, rave about it. Make your host feel good for having made your life easier. Positive reinforcement is the best way to ensure that it won’t be the last time your host goes the extra mile.

Now, for some host tips!

  1. Firstly, relax.  Your guest is probably even more uncomfortable and anxious than you are about expressing and having their needs accommodated. They’re not expecting you to produce a huge vegan/allergen-free feast.
  2. Put people above traditions. That said, any efforts you DO make will be gratefully received, and likely not forgotten for a long time. Isn’t it more important to be good to our loved ones, than to follow a recipe to a “T”?
  3. Keep it simple. Make small changes to old favourites.  It doesn’t have to be terribly difficult to accommodate, and some things can be very easily amended by replacing cow’s milk with unsweetened soy or almond milk, butter with vegetable oil, Earth Balance or vegan Becel, or keeping the parmesan on the side. It’s equally easy to make a vegan mushroom or miso gravy, and to use a vegan pie crust. Some minor tweaks could make all the difference your vegan/allergic guest, and nobody will even know the difference.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you have questions or require clarification, by all means ask your guest for information.  They are used to answering these questions, and would rather answer them in advance than discover that the mashed potatoes contain cow’s milk after swallowing several mouthfuls.  Also, encourage your guest to bring something – they may want to, but are afraid of overstepping.
  5. Avoid calling unnecessary attention to your guest publicly. They likely don’t want the attention directed on them any more than you want to discuss factory farming over your ham or turkey.  Respect is a two-way street.

Enjoy your time with friends and family!

Vegan and Allergen-Free Holiday Recipe Resources


 

IMG_1126Pamela Tourigny is an Ottawa-based expert on the subjects of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She also assists business clients with their marketing, communications and public relations needs. Contact her here.  

Simple Savoury Sweet Potato Recipes

The truth is, I kind of hate cooking.

I’m pretty good at it – when I first became vegan 11 years ago I  had no choice but to learn how.  Otherwise, I would likely have starved. So I am a bit burnt out on it. I do it more than I’d like to…like every day!  But if I could never cook again, I’d be very, very happy.

Alas, vegan meal service options have not yet reached that point, nor has my food budget.  So cook I do, with a focus on EASY and HEALTHY.  As an athlete, I can’t get away with stuffing my pie hole with garbage, so I eat a lot of kale, smoothies, sweet potatoes, hemp hearts, whole grain bread, avocados and the like.

I was on Rogers Daytime Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 8 sharing some of my favourite ways to use sweet potatoes.  Here are the recipes that I showed on Daytime… and a bonus recipe!

Oven baked sweet potato medallions

I make these as a side dish, or sometimes as a snack! They take some time in the oven, but the prep part is easy and once you stick ’em in the oven you can stop cooking.

(Serves 1-3)

  • FullSizeRender (1)Two sweet potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick into circles (peeling optional)
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  1. Heat oven to 400F
  2. Place sliced sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush with a bit of olive oil (optional). Sprinkle with a bit of salt
  4. Place on middle rack, turning after 15-20 minutes. Cook for another 10 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with garlic powder, or whatever other herbs and spices you enjoy.  Eat hot or cold, as a snack or side dish.

Soup with Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6

There are several variations you can do!  Start with one soup base, but then amend to suit whatever you feel like on a given day. And yes, I know, tomatoes and peanut butter together sounds really gross but trust me, it’s good.

Base:

  • IMG_2270One onion, chopped  (leave this out if you hate onions, like my friend Danielle Avery)
  • 1T minced ginger (for options one and two)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2t minced garlic
  • 1L vegetable broth
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes (400 ml)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes

Options:

  1.  Add 1/2-cup peanut butter, ½-cup coconut milk, 1T curry powder, several spears of shredded kale, and minced cilantro at the end for African-style soup
  2. Add 1 cup of dried red lentils, 1T curry powder and optional ½-cup coconut milk for a lentil soup
  3. Add several spears of kale, minced, and 1 can of white beans
  4. Up the carrots to 3, add one diced apple, and blend until smooth with an immersion or regular blender (but be careful, it’s hot!)

Sweet Potato Pecan Salad

This salad is equally at home at a summer picnic, or the Thanksgiving table.  There’s something magical about roasting sweet potatoes in coconut oil.

(About 4-6 side dish servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup minced red onions
  • Salt to taste
  • 4T cup lime juice
  • 3T maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Roast the sweet potatoes and onions with coconut oil at 400F until sweet potatoes are cooked – about 20-25 minutes.
  2. In a dry frying pan, toast the pecans until fragrant.
  3. Combine the sweet potato roast mixture with the nuts, and add all other ingredients.  Stir until well mixed.  Serve warm or cold.

Montreal Vegan Festival Round-Up!

Hello readers!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Montreal Vegan Festival! In addition to brushing up on my French, I basked in a crowd of ethical people, and ate my weight in vegan food. In this post I’m going to be highlighting my favourite parts, but you can find a complete list of exhibitors on the Festival’s website, here.

Free vegan cookies!
Free vegan cookies!

My friend and I took the train from Ottawa at arrived at noon in Montreal. The festival was only a twenty minute walk from the train station, located at the Coeur de science, a UQAM building on Sherbrooke. This gave us a chance to stretch our legs and see the city. We approached the entrance table and were given a Sophie Sucrée molasses cookie just for showing up! A two dollar donation towards the costs of running the festival also got us a reusable Natura bag. Admission was free. We were already some happy vegans.

We then headed off to the exhibitors section. Full disclosure: I attended none of the talks given. The complete list of what talks were given is on the website.

FEDJA's table display!
FEDJA’s table display!

First impressions: it was packed! The first room seemed to be mainly animal advocacy groups. The first table we approached was FEDJA (Fonds étudiant pour la défense juridique des animaux). The students manning the table had very informative pamphlets that approached animal activism from a legal standpoint. They had painstakingly flagged pages of the Criminal Code that applied to animals, and were both very knowledgeable and passionate. We also checked out the APFA (The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals), where we found some cute buttons and stickers available by donation. To access the next room, we walked across a small courtyard.

This is where we started to get into the food items. This room was even busier! I think it’s safe to say the festival had a good turnout. Right by the entrance was the Sophie Sucrée table, where I couldn’t resist purchasing their banana chocolate chip loaf. I shared it with my partner the next day it was still moist as ever! Next, we sidled over to the Giddy Yo-Yo display. Any other chocoholics out there will understand why this was exciting to me! I ended up only getting some of their chocolate-scented lotion, as their products (all raw and vegan!) are widely available in Ottawa as well.

Lola Rosa's lunch offering.
Lola Rosa’s lunch offering.

At this point we were starting to want lunch. It was around 1:00pm, and we had spent the morning traveling. The first both we saw was the tried and true Lola Rosa. There, we had a taco bowl with beans and other vegetables on it. This ended up being messy, but so worth it. We purchased what look and tasted like cookie dough bars from them as well. We ended up getting one of the last taco bowls, they had to send someone back to the restaurant to get more! We checked out Chef Veganessa next. Chef Veganessa provides meal delivery and cooking classes, located in Beaconsfield, Quebec. The business is run by owner Vanessa Percher, a certified nutritionist and natural food advocate. Luckily for us, they had their food available for us to try. I purchased Power Balls, a delicious chocolatey date and nut ball, as well as a rice wrap with cashew. My friend and I ate our rice wraps on the train and found them to be filling and miraculously not soggy, despite our long day.

Mouton Vert's Mouthwatering Products
Mouton Vert’s Mouthwatering Products

One business that stood out to me was Mouton Vert. They’re a bakery and restaurant located in Montreal that offers Mediterranean vegetarian and vegan food. I had never heard of them previously, but they had a variety of Greek food, veganized! I was offered a ginger cookie that was crispy and spicy. Of course, I purchased other Greek treats and was told that the owners’ mother actually made a lot of the treats herself. How cute is that? I can’t wait to try them out next time I’m in town.

Now on to a few other tables we visited briefly. Macatruffe, where I purchased decadent mint rose truffles, and Druide Cosmetiques, where I found vegan cinnamon toothpaste. I have a lot of trouble finding vegan toothpaste that I find actually works, so I’ve been encouraged by the Druide brand so far. I quite like it! I’m upset I only purchased the smaller tube. I was glad to be able to find some new vegan brands to try outside of the Ottawa Scene.

Pamela Tourigny of the NCVA and Ottawa Veg Fest, and Nadia Mohabir, who played a big role in organizing the Montreal Vegan Festival. Feat. Paradis Végeetarien's kebab.
Pamela Tourigny of the NCVA and Ottawa Veg Fest, and Nadia Mohabir, who played a big role in organizing the Montreal Vegan Festival. Feat. Paradis Végeetarien’s kebab.

And finally, we reached the last room. We were greeted by the famous Paradis Végétarien’s booth, with some bizarrely meaty mock-meat products. I tried the kebab and was a little weirded out by how meaty it was. Take that as you will, but I think I’ll be sticking to other brands for now. Moving down the aisle, I found Auntie Loo and Zengarry of Ottawa fame! Both were doing incredibly well, with exclamations of “yum!” being heard from the crowd. Auntie Loo’s was offering samples of their coffee cake that people seemed to love. I shared the pumpkin cake with my friend on the train home, even in Montreal we had to get our Auntie Loo’s fix!

Librairie Zone Libre's spread
Librairie Zone Libre’s spread

The last booth I’d like to mention is Librairie Zone Libre. They carried a lot of titles surrounding animal rights and ethics. Although they mainly had French titles, I purchased a copy of Ecofeminism (edited by Carol J. Adams!) in English. It’s great to have a booth like theirs to round out all the food and cosmetic booths. I can’t wait to dig in to my new book while munching on Sophie Sucree banana bread.

We spent about 3 hours there total. By the end, we exited and sat in a courtyard and had a drink, it got really hot in there! I’m so pleased with how the festival turned out, it was very well organized. I am eagerly anticipating next year’s festival already.

Mindful Mavens Giveaway: Michael’s Dolce Jams

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Jess B Wright who was our winner!

 

I first met Michael at the Brewer Park farmer’s market in Ottawa. Since taste-testing a few of his hand-crafted jams, I’ve been loving them and sharing them with friends and family constantly. Seeing as he uses fresh local produce, certified organic cane sugar, and his packaging is made with either recycled or recyclable materials, his products are a great fit for the Mindful Mavens. I wanted to share Michael’s story with you and what makes his jams so special, so did a little Q&A with him. One lucky winner will get to try these as well! (See giveaway below)

How did your business start?

Michael’s Dolce started with the passion to improve the quality of jams.  I am trained in culinary arts, with several years experience working in the ‘sweet side’ (desserts) at restaurants and bakeries.

What is the story behind the name?

The name ‘Michael’s Dolce’ is derived from my name (Michael) and Dolce is an Italian word for sweet.  I choose Dolce, because the last restaurant I worked in had the dessert menu titled “Dolce”.

What sort of criteria do you have for selecting ingredients?

I look for locally grown / sourced foods.  I purchase the majority of fruit from Ontario, B.C.,and N.S.  I particularly buy from farmers at the Ottawa farmers market, Acorn creek, Warners farm, and Luxy farms.  I only use freshly squeezed lemon juice in all my jams.  In my strawberry balsamic jam, I use an 18 year old balsamic from The unrefined olive.  A new addition to my line is Smokey BBQ sauce, which is vegan and gluten free (facility is not GF).  I purchase spanish smoked paprika from Cardamom & Cloves, to support another small local business.

How do you choose flavour combinations?

Once I decide the fruit or basic ingredient, I research ways the ingredient has been used.  This leads me to a pairing flavour(s) and from there I formulate a recipe.

photo 3

 

Did you target your products to be specifically ethical/vegan?

Not on purpose, from the start I knew I would only make a quality product.  Selling at farmers market gave me direct connection to my costumers, understanding what people are looking for.  Striving to make ethical/vegan products make sense to the majority of my clientele, and me.

What makes them different than any other jams?

1) less sugar/no pectin

2) unique flavour combinations

3) soft set textures

Which flavor is your personal favorite and best seller?

My favorite is strawberry balsamic, the best seller is hands down Blueberry & Lavender.

photo 4

 

 

What do you do when you are not in the kitchen?

Family and friends are a key part of my spare time!  Spending valuable time eating out, keeping up with my interest in photography..to name a few.

Any exciting developments happening for the future?

This year I have started making  a vegan Sriracha sauce.

Jams in cocktails started on the drink menu at Union613.  You can find 3 of them with my jams/sriracha.

photo 2

 

I am collaborating with Marissa Begin (a beer rep & mixologist) to devise drinks with my jams.  She has even got ideas for which beer/drink to add my sriracha and BBQ sauce to!

I have just launched a smokey BBQ sauce which has already been well received.  Fiazza Pizza on Murray St. had approached me to make a BBQ sauce for one of their pizza’s. I was honoured to be asked, and have also been bottling them for sale too!

photo 5

 

 

 

So here’s what’s up for grabs:

One winner will receive four (4) 190ml jars of Michaelsdolce jams and sauces. The flavors will be:

  • Apricot Chili jam
  • Yellow Plum Anise jam
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Smokey BBQ sauce

To enter the giveaway, please respond with a comment that answers one of the following:

  • If you’ve tried Michaelsdolce jams and sauces, what’s your favourite flavour, and why?
  • If you haven’t, which flavour are you most interested to try?

Winners will be chosen randomly by number draw.

Details: Giveaway is open to Canadian residents, excluding Quebec. One random winner will win a set of 4 Michaelsdolce products. Pick-up to be arranged with Michael Sunderland. Giveaway closes on Saturday, September 13 at 11:59 PM EST.  One entry per person. The Mindful Mavens are not responsible for the delivery of the prize and cannot be held accountable for any discrepancies.