Category Archives: The Veg Life

All things regarding veganism. Recipes, product reviews, etc.

Vegan Fast Food: PizzaPizza Edition

Here’s the next installment of the Vegan Fast Food series.

I know, I know, another vegan series? Well yes, because apparently there is still surprisingly little information out there that’s quick access to help vegans, so I’ve taken it upon myself to put in the work for future generations. (You’re welcome)

I honestly don’t know why, but I’ve heard a lot of people bag on PizzaPizza. Personally, they’re my favourite pizza place! They actually allow you to have thick crust, have quality ingredients, their squishy fries are amazing and have some of the best vegan options! (For a non-vegan place)

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Starting in the top left corner, going across:

  • Classic Crust
  • Whole Grain Crust
  • Cauliflower Crust
  • Home-style Tomato Sauce (This is the same as the Italian Marinara dipping sauce)
  • Dairy-Free Cheeze (Violife)
  • Artichokes
  • Cilantro
  • Caramelized Onion
  • Hot Banana Peppers
  • Grilled Zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Sundried Tomato
  • Fire Roasted Red Peppers
  • Pineapple
  • Red Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Black Olives
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Green Pepper
  • Green Olives
  • Broccoli
  • Plant Based Pepperoni
  • Plant Based Chorizo
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sweet Chili
  • Bruschetta
  • Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
  • Balsamic Vinegrette
  • Potato Wedges
  • Regular Fries
  • Onion Rings
  • Sweet Potato Fries

Lays Classic, Ruffle’s All Dressed and most of their drinks are some other vegan offerings that aren’t listed in the picture.

The Veggie Quesadilla unfortunately won’t let you switch to dairy-free cheeze, but both the Calzones and Panzerottis can be customized to be vegan. The Italiano Blend, Sweet Garlic and Pepper and Chili Flakes are also vegan, if you wish to add those to your pizzas as well. (They’re listed under ‘free toppings’)

The Garden Salad is also vegan, but beware the croutons: they have whey in them.

The Honey Garlic dipping sauce is also fine, if you’re a vegan who eats honey, but the Honey Mustard dip contains eggs.

And, as always: These ingredients are for Canada only. I recommend you look up the ingredients for your own country.


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Daiya Monterey Jack Style Block Review

Since I did a chocolate review last year, I thought cheese would be a perfect pairing for this years’ Valentine’s Day.

Because let’s face it: everyone wants to try fondue at least once in their life, because it just seems pretty darn romantic! And what better day than to show off your romantic side than Valentine’s? (Daiya even has a dairy-free fondue recipe on their website!)

I want to start by saying this is my absolute favourite cheese, vegan or otherwise.

I honestly don’t know why Daiya gets such a bad wrap in the vegan community, yes it can be a little…. stronger than other cheeses, but that doesn’t make it bad!

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This was the first vegan cheese I ever tried, and – after years of eating nothing but goat cheese – this was a very welcome break from that game-y taste. (If you’ve ever had goat cheese, you know what I’m talking about)

I also like the texture of the block – they’re perfect for cutting up into slices and eating cold! You could of course still shred them up and use them on pasta, hot sandwiches, or whatever else you put melted cheese on. My favourite way to eat any of the blocks though is by itself in cold sliced form. (Sometimes with crackers)

Speaking of the texture, I have noticed it’s changed. It’s almost the same, but I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve bought them, when I went to cut slices off the block, they’ve been sticking more to the knife, and seem more almost-melty. Like they used to get if you carried them home from the store in the summer and they got a bit melted but were still firm. I’m not sure if they changed the recipe, or if there was just a less stable batch or something that went out, but I have to say, I don’t like the new texture as much. I don’t want to have to peel off pieces of broken slices from my knife.

Now, I don’t know what ‘real’ Monterey Jack cheese tastes like, but this one has a pretty mild taste. I used to think Mozzarella was the ‘plainest’ cheese taste, but this beats it by a landslide. Mozzarella has a bit of a like, twang-y taste to it (yes I know ‘twang isn’t a flavour), that I don’t like too much. This one is the plainest of cheeses I’ve tasted – it’s a pretty neutral taste, which is why I think it’s the perfect flavour.

I don’t know all those typical cheese descriptions – nutty, earthy, etc. I don’t know what any of those mean, so the best description I can give it would be it’s like the water of cheese flavours: you can pair it with anything and it won’t be weird. (Unless you pair it with like, mints or something)

One thing I can say I definitely don’t like about this, and all the other blocks: They’re $5.99 each! With how small the blocks are, (I can usually finish a whole block in one day and a half [or less]) you’d think they wouldn’t be so expensive.

At one point, I was buying them in 4’s just so I’d have enough for 1 week – that’s $20 on cheese alone! Who has that kind of money?

I complain about this in a lot of my reviews of vegan products, but I’m gonna continue to complain until something changes. Either lower the price (even 4.99 would be better), or make the products bigger. How can we expect more people to go vegan when the ‘transition’ products are so anti-family sized and expensive? (Like the Beyond Burgers – 2 in a giant plastic container that could easily fit 4-6 for $20 – and that’s the raw ones!)

And I know, I know, I don’t know how much it takes to produce the blocks, and that may be as low of a price as they can make them for the company to make a profit, but guess what? If you drop the price, more people will buy them, because they’ll be actually affordable and it will (most likely) even out. I know I’d definitely buy way more of them if the price was lower (or they were bigger). Especially because you can put them in the freezer! You could go on a stock up trip and throw them in the freezer to keep on hand.

If you do put the blocks in the freezer though, I recommend you only use them to be melted or in a hot dish. Once they go in the freezer, the texture gets ‘snowy’ and they don’t work as well as cold slices for a snack. Once heated, they retain the flavour and melt-y/stretchy texture.

That’s pretty much all I think I can say about this block. It’s my favourite, even though it’s a bit on the expensive side and small. (But all the blocks are the same size/price)

If you haven’t tried it yet, I definitely recommend it, and I recommend trying it cold first before you throw it into a dish. Just so you get an untainted flavour of the cheese. If you don’t know what it tastes like by itself, how will you know what to put it in?


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4th Year Veganversary

I don’t want to start each of these with ‘isn’t it crazy’ but…

It is crazy! Being 4 years vegan feels awesome to say!

And as cliché as it is, it really feels like I’ve been vegan forever. For almost two decades of my life, I was contributing to such atrocities and I didn’t realize what I was doing. How someone could see the proof of what’s happening and remain uncaring is such a foreign concept to me, my brain seriously doesn’t compute it. Why would anyone willingly choose to be cruel?

I’ll admit, I was taught in school that beef comes from cows, pork from pigs, etc., but for some reason, as a child, it didn’t click to me that those meats were the flesh from the animals. It’s not exactly like they tell a bunch of kids that in health class. It’s not an excuse by any means – the info was always there to be learned, and I am ashamed it took me so long to begin to look into things – but as soon as I started to research I was so sickened by what was happening, I vowed to stop contributing to that right then and there.

While on the subject of the horrors that happen, if you haven’t checked out Earthlings yet, I highly recommend it. It’s pretty graphic, but if you can’t stomach what’s happening to the animals, maybe you shouldn’t be paying other people to do that on your behalf.

I also think it’s kind of funny that the year I went vegan was the same year I put out my first three novellas. I’m not saying it’s at all related, but well… three in 1 year is a lot.

Last year, I focused more on the food aspect of being vegan, so this year I think I’m gonna focus on all the good you can do for the planet.

 

Exhibit A:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - 4th Year Veganversary - Vegan anniversary, vegan food, animals saved, veganism

Look at those stats! I’ve saved 1.6 million gallons of water, 43,800 square footage of forest, reduced my CO2 emissions and saved 1,460 animals lives – all by just changing my diet!

Now, veganism is much more than just a diet, but even just by changing what you eat, look at all the good you can do!

To put these into perspective for you:

The average 8 min shower takes 17.2G of water. Saving 1.6 million gallons is the equivalent of 93,023 showers – this is about triple the amount the average person will take in their lifetime! (The average person will take 28,000 showers)

For baths – which use 70G of water per bath – this is the equivalent of 22,857 baths.

The average person eats 300lbs of grain per year. 58,400 lbs of grain is enough to feed 1 person for 194.6 years. (or 2 people for an entire lifetime [provided they die at 80])

Would you rather not shower/bath or eat for literally your entire life (and then some), or just give up animal products for 4 years???

Exactly.

If you’re interested in learning how to go vegan, to save not only animals, but the planet you live on, I recommend checking out my Vegan Tips page. I have everything from where to start to the answers to some of the most common misconceptions.

Before I went vegan, I consumed roughly 7,300 animals. That means I still have 5,840 animals to save – or 4 more years being vegan until my scale is balanced. While it’s sad for me to think about all the animals I carelessly consumed before I knew better, it helps to know that I’ve since stopped that and am working hard to not continue the cycle of horror.

Since going vegan, it’s made me much more cautious of not only what I put in my body, but to also be wary of what others tell me. I try not to take anything at face value, and I recommend you do the same. Don’t just trust some stranger-on-the-internets’ opinion – do your own research and come to your own conclusions. You may learn something about yourself, like I did.

I learned that while I liked to think of myself as a good, compassion person, I really wasn’t living that way. So I decided to do something about it. That’s the great thing about life! If you don’t like something about yourself, you can take steps to change it!

One of the biggest values I have is being self-sufficient. Should shit hit the fan, and a global disaster happens (let’s face it, we’re not very far from something happening), I think it’s important to be able to rely on yourself, and know that you have the skills to survive without relying on ‘society’ – especially because ‘society’ as a whole isn’t the best.

Let’s be honest, living in a way ‘society’ deems ‘unworthy’ or ‘weird’ usually just means you think for yourself. Why would you want to be part of a culture, city, etc. that frowns upon making your own opinions?

I hope to one day be able to live in a way where I’m doing the least amount of harm as I can. This means using less single-use plastics, growing most (if not all) of my own food, finding reusable resources for everything I can, and using renewable energy.

And, (not that I planned that), that actually brings me into a great segway into introducing my new article series: No. Mad.

It’s a new section of the website I’ll be making to chronicle my upcoming adventures of travelling around the world, learning about solar panels, and living as naturally as I can. You guys will come along with the ride and will get articles and a great inside look into the world I’ve been slowly working toward.

The No. Mad. Intro will be published March 3rd, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

Aaand I think that is the perfect place to wrap up this article.

I can’t wait until next year when I get to say I’ve been vegan for 5 years, 10 years, etc.!

Oh, and, I still haven’t died from nutrient deficiency. 😉


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Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac Review

*IMPORTANT*

This is the last product review of 2019! (It’s also the last post)

Right now, my plan is to come back on January 17th (with the first Throw Away Fic of 2020) in which case the next product review won’t be until Feb. 13th and then continue on the pattern of the 13th of every month.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season, get presents you actually want, and I’ll see you all in the New Year.

AI


Ah, Daiya. You’ve yet to disappoint me (with the exception of yogurt, but that isn’t your fault, I hate the consistency) and I’m so happy I get to finally review the mac n cheese you have!

Nothing was really stopping me before, I just try to pick the products I review so they go somewhat with the seasons – hence the burgers in the summer, and the soups and heartier foods in the winter. This particular product was hard to decide on though, since you can eat it any time. It’s kind of like Kraft Dinner, you can eat it at any time.

Technically, mac n cheese is a hearty food, so that’s why I decided to do the review in the winter.

Aaand that’s enough babbling – onto the review!

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Product Reviews - Daiya Cheddar Mac Review - vegan food, vegan food review, food reviewer, vegan mac n cheese, vegan cheese, vegan cheddar

I can’t say taste-wise if it tastes like real cheese, but I can say it tastes like Daiya cheese. Which many people find to be… a bit strong. (To put it mildly) Let’s just say: if you like how powerful Daiya tastes, you’ll like this.

The box claims it makes 3 servings, but who are we kidding? 1 box = 1 bowl. It is very filling, the way mac n cheese should be. You know after you eat a bunch of food and then you’re ‘gross full’? It’s on the cusp of that and when you eat a bunch of vegetables where you feel full but not like you could vomit. (Maybe that’s why they say to eat it in multiple sittings?)

It also says on the box to just dump the cheese packet over the cooked pasta and mix. That is the gist of mac n cheese making, but if you follow those directions, it comes out very thick. What I like to do, is cook the pasta, drain it and then add it back into the pot/sauce pan and melt some butter and a bit of dairy-free milk and then add the sauce packet. I find this helps thin it out a bit and lessens the Daiya taste a smidge, too.

Overall, the dish is pretty basic – noodles + cheese pack – but I’m a fan of not over-complicated foods. It’s mac n cheese in a box, what do you expect?

If you want to jazz it up, you can add some salt and pepper, and (if you’re feeling even more adventurous) you can add some No Name Bacon Bits. Or, they have other versions of the mac n cheese, one I think comes with bacon bits, and the other comes with vegetable bits. (I don’t like the vegetable piece one as much as the others)

1 box is usually around $6, and in keeping with the vegan food prices? That’s not that bad at all. I definitely try to keep some of these on hand for a lazy meal – they’re super easy to throw together too! Maybe 10 minutes to cook and mix everything, and they’re filling.

This is one of the best vegan ‘convenience’ foods I’ve tried. I definitely recommend trying it out, especially for the long winter ahead. Time to stock up now!


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Surprising Vegan Crackers




Last year, I did Surprising Vegan Soups, and since it’s starting to get cold again, I figured what better compliment than to do a crackers addition? We wouldn’t want your soup to get lonely, would we?

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Listed from the top-left corner going clockwise:

  • Triscuits Original
  • Triscuits Hint of Salt
  • Triscuits Reduced Fat
  • Triscuits Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Triscuits Roasted Red Pepper
  • Triscuits Rosemary and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Wasabi and Soy Sauce
  • Triscuits Organic Original
  • Triscuits Cranberry and Sage
  • Triscuits Sriracha
  • Triscuits Fire Roasted Tomato and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Dill, Sea Salt and Olive Oil
  • Triscuits Olive
  • Triscuits Garden Herb
  • Triscuits Balsamic Vinegar and Basil
  • Triscuits Ginger and Lemongrass
  • Triscuits Thin Crisps Cinnamon
  • Vegetable Thins
  • Premium Plus Unsalted Tops
  • Premium Plus Salted Tops
  • Premium Plus Whole Wheat
  • Crispers All Dressed
  • Crispers BBQ
  • Crispers Salt and Vinegar
  • Ritz Original
  • Ritz Whole Wheat

There were a few cracker brands I never heard back from in regards to certain ambiguous ingredients (a favourite seemed to be ‘flavour’ with no further explanation) so I obviously didn’t include those as I wasn’t 100% certain.

You may be surprised to see Crispers listed here, and I would’ve been too. When I was doing the Surprising Vegan Chips collage, I was going to add them, but I found out their official definition was: Crispers crackers are packed with intense flavour and a satisfying crunch! They’re baked, not fried, making Crispers a great snack alternative. (Also, apparently they’re only available in Canada)

As always, these are all vegan as of Canadian ingredients – if you’re in a different country, please do your own research and check the ingredients for your own region as sometimes they change.


Like this article? Check out the rest of the Surprising Vegan Series!

Gardein Stuffed Turk’y w/ Gravy Review




I know, I know, I missed Canadian Thanksgiving. But, I figured most of the people reading this are in the US, so I’m not late. (Technically)

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I want to start off by saying I haven’t tried the other ‘holiday loafs’ that are out, so I can’t really do a comparison.

That said though, this one is good. The ‘stuffed turkeys’ were a lot smaller than I thought they’d be (they were only about the size of my palm), and for only having 2 per package, if you were planning on sharing, that kinda goes out the window.

Honestly, why do vegan companies insist on doing this? You want more people to go vegan? Make some family sized products! Then at least you have enough for people to try without them eating 50% of the only food you can eat at the get-together. Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous.

Okay, sorry about that, getting back on track, you probably won’t want to share these, because they’re so good. I mean, it could be better (without the breading, it just tastes like tofu) but it’s pretty good for what it is. I wouldn’t say ‘this will fool a meat eater’ or anything because it won’t. You 1,000,000% can tell it’s tofu with breadcrumbs and stuffing. But that’s okay! Not every vegan substitute needs to taste exactly like meat! I personally am fine with eating a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms. I’m one of those people who actually likes the taste of veggies, so for me, this tastes good.

If you’re someone who was hoping to find a holiday roast or something to fool a meat-eater, or like the closer-to-meat tasting substitutes, then this product isn’t for you. For that, I’d recommend Beyond Meat. Their beef burger tastes so much like beef I actually don’t like it as much. (Too weird for me)

I do wish that the stuffing didn’t come inside the turk’y as well. I don’t know if it’s how I grew up or whatever, but we never left the stuffing inside the meat. It would get cooked in there, and then served separate in it’s own bowl as a side dish. Also, I feel like by adding the stuffing it’s a biiit of a rip off, because you’re getting less ‘meat’. And again, for how tiny they are to begin with, you’d think they wouldn’t be that stingy. I’m also not too much a fan of the cranberries, but that’s just personal taste.

The breading holds up pretty well (as long as you oil the pan/use non-stick) and it isn’t too soft to cut through, either. I think they should’ve seasoned the ‘meat’/tofu itself though, just to give it a better flavour. If the breading comes off and you eat the stuffing separate, the ‘meat’ is pretty bland.

Also, for the gravy: You should give two packs of gravy, or make the pack of gravy resealable. That way, if you only want to make one of the little stuffed turk’y things, you can save some of the gravy for the second. As it is, you either have to eat both at the same time, or, eat one dry and one with gravy. And, while I’m complaining, put more gravy! The one pack is barely enough to cover one of the stuffed turk’ies. Remember, after you pour gravy over something with breading, the breading will soak up the gravy, thus making it ‘dry’ again. Hence, you need more!

All in all, for being a frozen meal, it’s pretty good. If you wanted to bring it for Thanksgiving dinner though, I’d recommend buying two packs. That way you’ll have enough should people get curious enough to try it, and you’ll have leftovers. (And, let’s face it, isn’t that the best part of Thanksgiving anyway?)


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Surprising Vegan Chips




In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d put out the next Surprising Vegan article. I know that you can eat chips all year round, but since I already did a Halloween candy post, and chocolate one, with the addition of chips, you can have the most rockin’ Halloween party snacks around.

No more sitting in the corner crying because there’s ‘no vegan food’ – with this series, carnists have zero excuses.

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In order starting from the top left corner, clockwise:

  • Neal Brothers Easy Rounders
  • Neal Brothers New Classics
  • Neal Brothers Pure Pink
  • Neal Brothers Pure Pink and Vinegar
  • Neal Brothers Sweet and Smoky BBQ
  • Neal Brothers Maple Bacon Forever
  • Neal Brothers Srirachup
  • Neal Brothers Deep Blue
  • Neal Brothers Deep Blue Flax
  • Sun Chips Original
  • Late July Resturant Sea Salt
  • Late July Resturant Lime
  • Late July Purple Corn
  • Late July Chia and Quinoa
  • Late July Cantina Dippers Blue Corn
  • Late July Cantina Dippers White Corn
  • Late July Sweet Potato
  • Late July Sea Salt
  • Late July Red Hot Mojo
  • Late July Sublime
  • Late July Bacon Habenero
  • Late July Jalapeno Lime
  • Late July Sriracha Fresca
  • Late July Blues
  • Late July Crispy Yellow Corn
  • Lays Oven Baked Original
  • Lays Salt and Vinegar (Blue Bag)
  • Lays Classic*
  • Doritos Ketchup
  • Doritos Sweet Chili Heat
  • Old Dutch Ketchup
  • Old Dutch Original
  • Ruffles All Dressed
  • Ruffles Original
  • Tostitos Multigrain
  • Tostitos Restaurant Style
  • Tostitos Scoops
  • Tostitos Rounds
  • Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Veggie Chips
  • Pringles Ketchup
  • Pringles Original

*Lays Classic is made with pork enzymes in the US, making them not vegan. However, in Canada they don’t, so they’re safe to consume. Check out the US list here (at the time of writing, I’ve only been able to find a Canadian and US list, I’d suggest contacting the company for other specific countries)

This list (as well as this series) is always for Canadian ingredients – ingredients may differ (and therefore products may or may not be vegan) in differing countries. Please do your own research and look up the ingredients for specified foods for your own country.

This list also doesn’t mention all the marketed-as-vegan chips (like the Que Pasa Nacho chips – I recommend these btw, they’re so good!) as this is the Surprising Vegan series. If you Google ‘vegan ____’ tons of different options come up, but the point of this series is to find non-vegan-marketed foods that are safe for vegans to eat.

There are many instances where known vegan food might not be available, so it’s always great to have a list of foods that you know you can eat that may be easier/cheaper to find.

Daiya Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pizza Review





Ah, Daiya. I don’t understand why so many people hate this company. I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences with them. The only ‘issue’ I’ve ever had was one time I bought a block of their cheese from a store and it was mold-y. But, I sent them pictures, and they sent me coupons for compensation. How nice is that?

That said, this isn’t my favourite pizza from them. My favourite is the Supreme pizza, and I have a suspicion I would like their Meatless Lovers’ too, but I’ve yet to find it. Every store I’ve been to that sells their pizzas are either sold out of the Meatless Lovers’, or they just don’t carry that kind. I have no idea why, but it’s actually getting a little annoying. (Same as the Monterey Jack Blocks are getting harder and harder to find – they’re my favourite ones! I had to start buying them in 4’s!)

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Most of the Daiya frozen pizzas taste the same, which makes sense because it’s the same company. It’s the same crust, sauce and cheese, they just change the toppings. The garlic bits on the pizza are a little much for my taste. I don’t really understand why they put bits of real garlic on the pizza, so you actually bite into hunks of garlic. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find that part appetizing.

The rest of the pizza is not really overwhelming. It’s watery mushrooms on top of a frozen pizza crust. Not really something to write home about, but I have also had worse. It hits the spot, and isn’t as hard to find as the other kinds, but it’s also not their best.

As said before, there’s no real ‘wow!’ factor to it, it’s just… good. Will do in a pinch, and gets the job done of satisfying your hunger.

I know that’s not really an exciting review, especially after the in depth one of the Vegan Food and Drink Festival from last month, but there’s just not really too much to say about this pizza.

It’s good, but it’s not their best. If you haven’t tried any of them, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one, but if there is nothing else, it’ll get the job done.


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Where Do Vegans Get Their Iron?





I do apologize that this article was a day late. As we all know, life got in the way and prevented me from finishing on top (also why there is no Throw Away Fic this week).

Better late than never though, right? Especially when it comes to learning about nutrition. This is the third installment of my Vegan Nutrient Collage series.

It’s not as common to get questions about iron, but it’s still good to bust myths. Most people know iron is in blood, so I understand the logic of ‘animals have blood, I should eat them to get iron’, but luckily for us, iron isn’t only found in blood. It’s in all kinds of plants, too!

Take a look for yourself:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Nutrient Collage Series - Where Do Vegans Get Their Iron?

Starting in the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Lentils 6.6mg
  • Soy Beans (29.2mg)
  • Chickpeas (12.5mg)
  • Red Kidney Beans (15.1mg)
  • Oatmeal 29.9mg
  • Fortified Cereal 18mg
  • Quinoa 6.3mg
  • Brown Rice  .8mg
  • Spinach 6.5mg
  • Swiss Chard 4mg
  • Kale 1mg
  • Swiss Chard .2mg
  • Sesame Seeds 21mg
  • Sunflower 7.4mg
  • Cashews 6.7mg
  • Peanuts 6.7mg
  • Pistachio 4.8mg
  • Pumpkin Seeds 2.1mg
  • Tofu 13.2mg

With only needing 16-18mg (a bit more if you’re a menstruating woman) it’s really not that hard to get all the iron you need. As long as you eat a balanced diet, you shouldn’t have trouble getting any of the essential nutrients you need to survive.

This will be the last entry of the Nutrient Collage series for this year – but don’t worry, I’ll continue the lesson into the new year!

Next month is Halloween – the spookiest time of the year! Not to worry vegans – there’s plenty of Halloween treats we can still enjoy! Next month I’ll give you Surprising Vegan Chips so you can get your snack on. Until then, check out my Surprising Vegan Halloween Candy collage and start stocking up!


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Vegandale Festival Review 2019




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That’s right! Three years, baby! This is my third year in a row going to the Vegandale Festival in Toronto and I am still pumped about it! I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off of getting to go to a place where I can try whatever I want, and not have to ask about ingredients, or read the label before putting it in my mouth. (Save for cinnamon)

I was recently talking to one of my friends, and they made a joke about since this is my third year going, I could ‘take a break’ from going next year. Uhmm… what?

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Vegan Sign 1

That’s when it hit me: other people can walk into any place and order whatever they want, without looking at the ingredients list, or worrying about what’s in a product. They can walk in, order what looks good and leave. So, it makes sense that people with that ability don’t even really think about how exciting that can be. They have no idea, that’s their ‘normal’, so they don’t understand the hype.

How boring are other people’s lives? They can just… do stuff without thinking about it? That’s such a foreign concept to me! But I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way. I love getting to be excited about things others aren’t. It’s like I’m a child discovering how awesome the world is all over again. Who wouldn’t want that?

But enough about me – time to get to what you came here for: the food!

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This year, I was fortunate enough to get to try 20 things (instead of last years’ 17). There’s always over a hundred vendors, and while I feel like I get a pretty good mix of things, I’d love to eventually get to try half of them.

As always, these reviews will be written in the order that I tried the food. (And not in terms of what I liked best)

Okay, let’s get started!

These Wingz – Half N Half Wings with Mac N Cheese

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First up, is These Wingz wings and mac n cheese. I got the special, 6 wings (half BBQ, half buffalo) with the mac n cheese. The wings were massive. Not just in size, but they were thick. As. Fuck. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but they were definitely the thickest thing I got at the festival. They were also the most expensive ($16).

The wings were good, they tasted kinda seitan-y, though I’m not sure if that’s what they were made out of. They had a good, chewy texture, but the breading on them (and their size) made them hard to bite through. And, trying to rip pieces off with the small plastic fork I got (no knives were available) didn’t work that well, either. I’m pretty sure I accidentally flung sauce in my hair from trying to rip a piece off.

The mac n cheese wasn’t that good. The noodles were over-cooked, and just tasted like the wing sauce. It didn’t taste like there was any cheese on them at all.

 

Parka Food Co. – Broccoli Burger Mac

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I know, I know, a little ridiculous I got another mac n cheese after literally just buying one, but I was intrigued by the name: Broccoli Burger Mac.

This one was way better than the first. For starters, this one actually tasted cheesy, and it had battered broccoli pieces on top. Gave the mac n cheese a good crunchy aspect. The cheese sauce actually kinda tasted like pasta salad to me – it had that subtle vinegar after-taste that pasta salad gets. This was a great dish to try for $11. I’m still not entirely sure what an aioli is, but the pink one that was drizzled on top of this dish was good. The sign said it was just their Parka Aioli, so I’m not entirely sure what’s in it (or why it’s pink), but it was good.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dish, is that the top of it was dowsed in parsley. There was way too much sprinkled on top of the broccoli and mac n cheese. The entire top was almost completely green!

 

Peas and Thank-You – Chick’N Parm

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A chick’n parm. I’ve never in my life had a chicken parm. I’ve seen them in movies/heard about them – it’s a chicken cutlet with tomato sauce and parm – but I was really hyped when I saw this on the menu at Peas and Thank-You. It was only $10, so I figured why not? And boy am I glad I did. This was probably the best thing I tried at the festival in terms of the actual ‘meal’ things. Although, it didn’t have actual parm on it. It had some kind of sauce (I’m assuming [hoping] it was cheese sauce) but I thought the ‘parm’ on the sandwich would’ve been… y’know, actual parm flakes. The sauce actually tasted closer to Veganaise then cheese, but maybe that’s just what parm tastes like?

The chick’n patty itself was great – though it was a little too hard to bite through. I think maybe it was fried too long? But once you got passed the initial bite, it had a great flavour and wasn’t as hard to chew and get down. And the bun? Oh, man! I think it was a ciabatta bun? I don’t know, but I loved the bun. They didn’t do anything special to it – I believe it was just toasted – but it added such a great depth to the sandwich. They do pop-ups at different events, and I really, really hope that they come back next year! (Or do another pop-up in Toronto)

 

Not Your Mother – Rocky Road Ice Cream

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This was the favourite dessert I tried, hands down. Rocky Road ice cream? Do you guys know about Rocky Road ice-cream? It’s chocolate ice cream with brownie pieces and marshmallows. Marshmallows!

I cannot believe I’ve never tried Rocky Road ice cream before. It’s my new favourite ice cream flavour. Even though it was hot and I had to drink most of it, it was still my favourite dessert. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about chocolate and marshmallows that holds a very special place in my heart.

When will vegan Rocky Road ice cream be available for purchase in pints from a store?

Seriously, if you make vegan ice-cream, get on it. Please.

 

Globally Local – Hot Buffalo Chick’Un Burger

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Ah, Globally Local. They’ve been my favourite thing the past two years, and I feel a little bad about giving that title away, but my reason for giving the title away is two-fold:

  1. This burger is pretty much the same thing I tried last year, just with buffalo sauce coating the patty.
  2. The chicken parm was way more exciting and tasted better.

Don’t get mad, Globally, I still love you guys and cannot wait until you open your location here next month! But, I do wish that you had added something else on the festival menu to try.

The fries were great, too. Thick cut and fried fries I think are my weakness. These ones, and A&W fries are the best fries I’ve ever had. (… So far.)

 

Main Vegan Deli – Lobstar Roll

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Main Vegan Deli… what can I say? They were at the festival both previous years, and the first year I went I actually got to try a sample of their cashew cheese. I was hoping I’d get to do that again this year (or that I’d maybe actually get a ball/block to take home), but alas, they changed their menu.

This year, they had a ‘lobstar’ roll and a no-kobe sammy. Now, I’ve never really been that much of a fan of seafood. Before going vegan, I’d never eat it. It was gross to me. So, naturally, since going vegan, I haven’t tried any seafood faux products. Why would I if I didn’t like the real thing, right?

So, keeping that in mind, I didn’t really like this. It was mushrooms and their ‘seafood sauce’, so I figured it shouldn’t be too bad. I like mushrooms, after all – I don’t know what it was, it wasn’t exactly bad, but this was definitely not my favourite thing. I think it might’ve been the texture that the mushrooms were. They were slightly rubber-y, but also slightly slimy. Not chewy rubber-y, just… rubber-y.

I got my (non vegan) mom to eat it, (I couldn’t finish it!) and she said it ‘tasted like the kind of lobster you get from a can’. Take from that what you will.

I was actually really disappointed that I didn’t like this – I had loved their cashew cheese, and was hoping they might’ve been like Globally Local, in that I would just like everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not writing them off. Next year, if they bring their cashew cheese, or have some other type of sandwich (that’s not seafood) I’ll try it.

Bring it on!

 

Meltwich – Poutine

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I love poutine! This one was a little lack-luster though. The fries were pretty basic, seemed like they were just regular frozen french fries, and the cheese shreds didn’t melt! At all. I took the picture, mixed it up, and then nothing. They tasted good, but they didn’t melt. I don’t know what happened, but that definitely made the dish not as good as it could have been.

That said, the gravy more for made up for the lack of melted cheese. It was a nice, rich, brown gravy and oh man, if they were just selling jars of that, I definitely would’ve bought one.

All in all, this poutine wasn’t anything spectacular (it was called the Classic Poutine) but regular poutine is still good poutine in my book. It doesn’t need to have chick’n or bacon bits or anything fancy for it to be good.

 

Vegtago – Nacho Cheese

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This was the first free sample I got at the festival. This cheese, while it’s great that it’s dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free, it tasted a little too sweet to me. If you gave this to me, and asked me to guess what it was, I would not guess ‘nacho cheese’. It tastes closer to pureed vegetable.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s made out of carrots, (the picture on the sign was a carrot), but it reminds me of my failed attempt at making cheese out of carrots and potatoes.

That’s not to say that it taste bad – I would definitely eat it in a different setting – but for something that’s supposed to be a nacho cheese, it misses the mark.

 

Magnum – Classic Bar

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This was the second free sample I got at the festival, and I have to say I was not disappointed. When I went, the lady at the counter said they were ‘down to Classics’. I was just excited I was getting a full sized ice-cream bar for free!

At this point in the festival, I was starting to feel a bit sick, so I do regret to say that I didn’t finish the whole bar. It’s the only thing from the festival I didn’t finish that I wasn’t able to take home.

With that said, it was pretty good. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but the chocolate coating on the outside of the bar had an odd ‘heavy’ feel to it. As soon as I bit it, that’s what I felt. I don’t know if that’s the right word for it, but it’s happened with other chocolate before, and that’s the only way I know to describe it. After that initial heavy/weighty feel, it was pretty sticky, too. Like, dry-out-your-mouth sticky. Similar to when you eat a spoon of peanut butter and immediately feel like you need to drink some water.

I don’t know if that’s just something that happens depending on the cocoa content or whatever, but it’s definitely something I don’t like in my chocolate. It shouldn’t make you thirsty.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Magnum Non-Dairy Classic Bar - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

The ice-cream was good, too. It was just basic vanilla ice-cream. Nothing too fancy, as this was the Classic Bar, but it was still good.

I’d definitely buy this if I wanted an ice-cream bar, but don’t go in with too high expectations. It’s pretty basic, and don’t forget to drink water with it.

 

Papabubble – Cherry Candy

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First, I’d like to point out: these are hard candies. They only had a few squishy ones (that I didn’t try) on display, and this wasn’t it. I thought that it was a squishy candy, so I tossed it in my mouth and got a rude awakening when I chomped down on it.

That’s my bad, I will admit. Other than that surprise, the candy was pretty good! It had a very good cherry flavour, and while it did stick to my teeth a bit, what candy doesn’t?

I also tried one called ‘lychee’ which is a type of tropical fruit. That one was good too, it did taste fruity, but I definitely liked the cherry one better.

I had actually been debating about buying a whole pack of their candy, but since they’re in Toronto, I decided I could always do a more in-depth analysis of their offerings later.

I don’t think they beat out Squish candy, since Squishs’ candy is well, squishy, but they are definitely a close second.




Julie’s Joyful Kitchen-  Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2019 Review - Julie's Joyful Kitchen Chocolate Caramel Almond Bar - vegan food, food reviewer, vegan festival

This is my second year reviewing Julie’, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. Last year, I got their chocolate cookie, which was good – pretty hard to mess up a cookie – this year, they were offering other types of cookies, or, this chocolate almond bar. I thought I’d be a bit adventurous and go for the bar. I’ve seen similar bars before but have always stayed away from trying them.

I should’ve done that this time, too.

For starters, I couldn’t even pick the thing up. The bottom layer crumbled into a million pieces the second I tried to. So I had to eat it with one finger swiping through the middle ‘caramel’ part. And to be honest, the caramel wasn’t very good. It just kinda tasted like almond butter, there wasn’t very much ‘caramel’ flavour in it. The chocolate on the top was good – it is chocolate, after all – but it was the same kind of dry-out-your-mouth as the Magnum bar.

This definitely didn’t make my favourites list, not by a long shot. If they come back again next year, I’d definitely want to try something else, but if that doesn’t go well, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to write them off. Which sucks, because they ladies running the booth were very sweet.

But yeah, I’m thinking that maybe Julie’s just isn’t for me.

 

Sweet Nutritionista –  Beet Brownie

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For a dessert that’s made out of beets this was pretty good. I absolutely hate beets, so believe me when I tell say you could not taste the beets in this brownie at all. You could’ve told me it wasn’t made out of beets and I’d believe you.

This was a wee bit dense though. Maybe if they had cut them a bit thinner it would’ve been more enjoyable. It was a biiit too much to bite off and chew at one time.

I would definitely love to try something else they have to offer at the next festival, or if I’m ever in Oakville, I’d definitely stop by.

 

Yves – Sweet Potato Meatball

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I’m not gonna lie, this tastes very sweet potato-y. I unfortunately don’t like sweet potatoes, so I didn’t like it. It had a hint of a weird spice I don’t like, that reminded me a bit of cumin. (Although I’m not 100% on if cumin is actually in them)

If you like falafel, you’ll definitely like these.

They had nuggets available as a free sample to try as well, but I unfortunately was 5 seconds too late, as the lady in front of me had snagged the last nugget.

Fortunately though, they were also giving out coupons, and I was lucky enough to get one of those, instead.

 

Glory Hole Doughnuts – Cookies N Crème Doughnut

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Glory Hole was back with a way better doughnut than last years’!

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t as hot, so it didn’t immediately melt into a goopy mess all over my hand, but I definitely enjoyed this one better than the peanut butter and chocolate I got last year.

While it still had the classic ‘this is a doughnut!’ sweetness, it was also very light. The icing I think was just regular vanilla, and the cookie bits were pretty similar in taste to Oreo cookies (no matter what the sign said).

The only thing I didn’t like is when I bit down, the entire doughnut flattened and didn’t bounce back. It was like I let all the air out of the tire.

That happened to the one I got last year as well, so I’m not sure if it’s just a doughnut thing, or if I’m somehow not biting them correctly but yeah. If they could find a way to make them not do that, that would be great.

And since these guys are in Toronto as well, I’m looking forward to trying more of their offerings.

 

BZZSFREE – Apple Honey

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Honey is definitely one of the things I miss the most since going vegan. I used to absolutely love it – not only for it’s taste, but also because it’s a great natural alternative to conventional medicine – so as soon as I saw this vegan honey company listed, I knew I just had to try it!

I was a little unsure of which flavour to get, as the sign said they had apple, pineapple and PMP (guava and something else I don’t remember). I just wanted to taste something that was closest to the real deal.

After speaking to the lady (who is beyond nice!) for a bit, she told me that the apple flavour is the closest to the real thing, so I decided to try that one. And boy am I glad I did!

It tasted so close to what I remember honey tasting like, I was blown away! It didn’t taste like apples at all! It was just as sweet, and even had the same sticky consistency!

I regret not buying a whole jar, but the lady said they were available to purchase online, and that they deliver to Toronto, so I’m definitely going to get my hands on some!

If you didn’t get a chance to check them out, or was a bit hesitant because of the flavours listed, you definitely need to try their apple flavour! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so glad they decided to come to the festival this year, and hope they come back!

 

Crazy D’s – Prebiotic Rockin’ Rolla Cherry Cola

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This was my least favourite thing from the entire festival. It tasted absolutely nothing like cherries. The ingredients say that there was actual cherry juice in it, but I couldn’t taste it at all.

This drink was spicy. It tasted like when you run out of bouillon cubes, so you try to make your own. So you get some water and throw ten different spices in it and then try it. That’s what it tasted like.

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This drink was an absolute no-go in my book. Which sucks because I was really looking forward to trying a cherry flavoured drink.

Their sign said it was supposed to have a bunch of health benefits and promote good digestion and stuff – I hate that they proved the old saying true. (Everything that’s good for you tastes bad)

I couldn’t even finish it, I had to dump it out when I got home. I felt bad for wasting it, but I couldn’t drink it. It was that bad. And tasted nothing like cherries!

Their other options were Ginga Kick and a citrus something. I went with cherry because I thought it’d be their best tasting one. Boy was I wrong!

 

If you like spicy drinks, you may like this, but if you want something that tastes like cherries? This isn’t it.

 

Tropic Love – Maple Luv Mini Pancakes

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Pancakes, whether big or small, there’s just something enjoyable about them.

These were light and fluffy, and so cute! They came ten per order, and were perfect with the right amount of maple syrup drizzled on top.

They weren’t really special, except that they were tiny. But I mean, a pancake is a pancake. I would’ve been really surprised if I didn’t like them.

 

WVRST – Soft Pretzel

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I have a soft spot for soft pretzels. I only tried them this year, actually. My first ever was from Through Being Cool (which unfortunately no longer exists!) and I instantly loved them!

They’re a bit salty to eat on their own (you’re apparently supposed to dip them in mustard? No thanks!), but have an amazing doughy consistency. It’s like eating just the thick crust from a pizza. I love soft, doughy breads, and these pretzels are no exception.

These guys also make sausages, (and are also in Toronto!) but I would recommend going there for the pretzels alone.

I’ll probably get around to trying their sausages, but the pretzels are an absolute must.

 

GTS – Watermelon Kombucha

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This was better tasting than the cherry cola, but still not my thing. I’ve tried kombucha before, and I didn’t really like it. I think it’s the carbonation I don’t like. Same reason I don’t enjoy pop – the carbonation isn’t a good time for me.

The flavour was good, though I don’t know I would call it watermelon. It had that fresh, fruity taste like a watermelon does, but it didn’t exactly scream ‘watermelon’ flavour.

I would definitely get it over an actual pop, like Coke. But my first go-to would still probably be just water.

 

Sausage Party – The Big Mock

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This not-dog was pretty good. They said it was a ‘hand crafted vegan sausage’, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s seitan, or something else, but it tasted similar to the flax dog I had gotten the first year. Very wheat-y. It was good, except I forgot to tell them no mustard, and they put a bunch of onions on it.

Why is that a thing people do? Smother the dog in a million cubes of onions? Onions are not that good of a topping, I’m sorry. I’d rather it of just been straight lettuce with the sesame seeds and cheese.

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I was a little disappointed that weren’t nearly as many dessert vendors as there were last year. I would’ve liked to get a cupcake or some other desserts.

On the vendors list on the Vegandale website, Kelly’s Bakeshop was listed, but the site map I got that had the list of the vendors, they weren’t anywhere. I don’t know if they were going to come, and had to fall out, or what, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to try their Salted Caramel Pretzel cupcake again.

Also, I thought I saw Bald Baker, but he wasn’t a vendor. He was pushing a stroller around, but looked a lot like him. I didn’t have the courage to go up to him and ask, so if you’re reading this: sorry for starring!

I’m so happy I got to go again, and I’m hoping I get to try even more foods next year!


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