Category Archives: Product Review

Yves Veggie Dog Review




Alright, now that the terrible weather is finally close to being gone, chances are you’ll probably find yourself at a BBQ/summer cook-out of some sort over the next few months. You’ll most likely need to either bring a faux meat with you, or tell the host which brand you’d like. I recommend telling them not to worry, and that I’m fine to bring my own, but if they’re insistent, well Yves is one of the easier faux meat products to find/remember the name of.

I don’t know how, but these things have got a pretty classic ‘hot-dog’ taste. I honestly don’t know what gives real hot-dogs that classic taste – from the recipe’s I’ve seen, most of them say ketchup – but it’s a distinctive flavour nonetheless.

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These taste like hot-dogs, not sausages. You may be wondering if it makes a difference, but trust me, it does. If someone asks you to pick them up sausages, and you grab these, they won’t be thrilled.

I’m not saying these not-dogs (yes I call them not-dogs, cause they’re not dogs! You’re welcome community) are bad, they’re in fact really good – but just know that there’s a difference in taste between sausages and not-dogs. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never had a hot-dog, but they have a universally defined flavour.

I will say, though, I’m thrilled to find a company that makes not-dogs, and not just sausages. I don’t know what it is – maybe they figure hot-dogs are too gross/unhealthy to try to replicate? – but most of the vegan companies I’m aware of only make sausage substitutes. (Or as I like to call them, not-sages)

Not all Yves products are vegan though, so be sure to read the ingredients before buying. So far, I know their Bologne, these not-dogs, their veggie nuggets and faux chick’n burgers are safe. All the ones that are vegan that I’ve tried say ‘vegan’ right on the front. (I’d double check the ingredients anyway, just in case)

So, aside from the classic hot-dog taste, these not-dogs are also really good if you dry-fry them. That is, in a pan with no oil/water. Just plop that sucker on there and roll it around every few minutes. When heated up, they get that classic smoky, BBQ-ed flavour. What I’m assuming is liquid smoke comes out when heated and gives them that awesome flavour.

Also, while heating up, their ‘skin’ begins to blister, and get crispy, which is just like the cherry on top of the smoke-flavoured cake. I don’t know what it is, but I’m a sucker for that blistery, smoky flavour.

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(See those blister-bubbles?)

Another good thing about them is they won’t stand out too much from the rest of the food. They’re a little more rectangular in shape to regular hot-dogs, so you’ll be able to tell them apart, but they’re not so different that people will gawk at them and make fun of you. (If they see the package says ‘vegan’ or question why you’re bringing your own, all bets are off) Also, they look ‘normal’ enough, that some of the other guests may even want to try them.

These are also pretty versatile, just like regular hot-dogs. You can BBQ them plain in a bun like ‘normal’, or cut them up and add them to a pasta salad, or kebabs! (Or mac n cheese, but that’s less summer-y)

Also, you can store them in the freezer without changing their texture, which is always a bonus! You could buy a few packs at a time and keep them in the freezer for when you need them.

All in all, these are a pretty great not-dog option and I definitely recommend you try the plain, and spicy flavoured ones. With these by your side, you won’t have to worry about missing a good old cookout or worry about having to bring your own ‘rabbit food’.


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Tofutti Cuties Original Review




Alright, since we’re getting into the warmer weather now (thank God), I thought what better food to review then an ice-cream sandwich? Might as well help you out with your summer treat shopping before it gets too hot to think.

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This was actually one of the first vegan ice-creams I tried. I remember back before I went vegan and my brother brought these home, excited he found an ice-cream that me and my family could eat, without us being there to help! He was pretty proud of himself, and it wasn’t too long before he started buying the boxes in two’s – and those would maybe last a week. Sometimes, I went to have one, only to discover that there was only one left – and no one else in my family had gotten to them!

Perhaps the best part of that story?  My brother isn’t even vegan – and he devoured them like that for a few summers!

One thing that’s cool about the Tofutti company, is that they make all kinds of different tofu-based products, which makes their cream cheeses, ice-cream and others perfect for people who can’t/won’t eat dairy.

Specifically speaking about these vanilla sandwiches, they come 8 to a box, each individually wrapped in paper and are pretty small. I like that they ran with the small-ness of them and decided to call them Cuties, but practically speaking, if it’s 40C and you need a good cool down snack, you’d need to eat two.

The chocolate cookie is nice and soft, which I like. I’d take soft cookies over hard any day – but one sort of con about their softness, is that sometimes when you unwrap the sandwich, bits of the cookie sticks to the wrapper. It’s no problem to lick the extra off when you’re at home, but if you were to bring these to a summer BBQ or get together, it’d be sad to see it go to waste.

The ice-cream itself is actually pretty surprising when you remember that it’s made out of tofu. It doesn’t taste like you’re eating tofu, it just tastes like ice-cream. (I was equally amazed when my friend Blair made chocolate ice-cream out of sweet potato!) It’s not overly vanilla-y and is pretty ‘plain’ as far as ice-cream flavours though – you won’t find any crazy chunks or chips in this. It’s simple, yet satisfying.

There’s not really too much else to say about it – I’d love to rave about how amazing it is, but that would be lying. It’s great if you want a simple ice-cream treat that you don’t need to scoop into a bowl – and I’m betting it would pack nicely in a lunch bag – but I can’t give it a glowing review.

It’s good for what it is, but I’ve had other ice-cream flavours that I like better, simply because they aren’t as simple. I still definitely eat them, but I would say these are like giving nooch a glowing review. It’s good for what it is, and it’s great to have on hand, but you can’t exactly praise it. It just kind of… is.

I would dare even say they’re a summer staple. Great to have, but doesn’t pack as much punch as say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I recommend you try them, since you won’t be disappointed, but you won’t exactly be jumping for joy, either.


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Yves Veggie Bologna Review




The first time I saw this product, I thought I was going to hate it. I have very un-fond memories of eating a warm, margarine, Kraft single and bologna sandwich while in elementary school. Let me tell you that that is not an easy taste you forget.

Fortunately, this doesn’t taste like vomit, so that’s a win!

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Now, I don’t know if it’s just because real bologne is made kind of like hotdogs, being just a big mismatch of all the leftover meat parts that other (better) products didn’t want, but real bologne is just nasty to me. Maybe it’s tied in with those terrible, terrible sandwiches, or maybe it was just a stigma that my family had passed down to me, but you couldn’t get me to go near real bologne with a ten-foot pole.

This bodes really well for this product, because it doesn’t taste anything like what I remember bologne tasting like. I actually like these deli slices better then their faux chicken and faux ham – I think this one tastes the best! The other two products just don’t taste anything close to the original in my eyes – the faux chicken is too smoky and the faux ham is just… they’re not my favourite options.

I guess it’s easier to make a good tasting faux version of something if the original tastes bad? Perhaps faux spam could be a big hit, who knows?

Another thing I like about this product, is that it’s versatile – you can make a cold-cut (faux-cut? Eeeh?) sandwich with it, heat it up in a wrap, or even cut it into strips and make faux bologne bacon – it tastes good either way. Hell, you could even roll it up and put a toothpick through it as an easy app, it totally works to be eaten by itself.

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(Not the best picture, but this wrap had: Yves Bologna slices, cucumber, Wee Bit Spicy Cheesy Rice and Daiya Mozz Shreds, all wrapped up in a Whole Wheat wrap)

Also, it’s one of the easiest findable pre-made vegan products. Metro, Loblaws, Sobey’s – even No Frills carries it! That’s definitely a plus when out shopping. It’s not the most exciting product, but if you’re in a pinch and need some quick products to throw together a sandwich, or a wrap this product is perfect.

One of the other perks, is you can freeze it without sacrificing its quality or taste. (On their FAQ page, they state that products can be frozen for 1-3 months.) So, you could buy a pack and throw it in the freezer for those times when maybe you’re not close to a store, or for time when you don’t want to run out to a store for only one or two items.

The only downside I think there is about this product, is that each pack only comes with 10 slices, so it goes pretty fast.

All in all, this product is about as great as regular lunch meat. It gets the job done, is pretty versatile, and can be easily found. I’d recommend you try it if you haven’t already.

*Not all of Yves Veggie Cuisine products are vegan. If you’re going to try some of their products, be sure to read the label! (Usually, their vegan products are labelled as such)


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Daiya Supreme Pizza Review




Ah, pizza. One of my favourite foods on the planet. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re giving me pizza. Perfectly acceptable to eat for every meal – it has all the food groups, y’know.

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Frozen pizza is good, but it’s more of what you settle for when you can’t get to the real thing. It usually does the job and fills/satisfies, but is nothing compared to it’s freshly prepared counterpart.

Or at least, that’s what I hear non-vegans describe it as. I don’t know if maybe it’s the novelty of being able to buy a frozen pizza instead of making my own at home (which I still do) or perhaps Daiya just has a stronger frozen pizza game, but I’ve never had that ‘this is gross’ feeling when eating a frozen pizza. All the frozen pizzas (which, to be fair isn’t that many) I’ve tried have been pretty good. This one is my favourite that Daiya makes.

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It was also the first way I tried Beyond Meat and I gotta say, even frozen and mixed with other toppings, I loved it. Since tasting it at A&W in burger form, I’m definitely a fan. While I don’t want to say the Beyond Sausage is the one reason it’s my favourite Daiya pizza, I’m not gonna lie – it definitely helped.

The pizza minus the Beyond Sausage is pretty uneventful – it’s Daiya cheese with veggies. If you like Daiya cheese and veggies, you’ll like it. Although, for some odd reason many vegans don’t like Daiya cheese, so I guess don’t buy their pizzas then?

I would personally like there to be more crust, but even still, it’s one of my favourite thin crust pizzas. It’s not so thin where it flops under the weight of the toppings and doesn’t even rip when you bite it (looking at you Pizza Nova), but it’s definitely not a thick crust.

Another thing I would say they could improve on, is that the toppings go all the way to the edges of the pizza – there’s no crust handle! How am I supposed to hold the thing? Underneath like a madman? No. Give us that edge to hold onto – it would definitely make dipping it in say, HotforFoods’ Ranch dip easier.

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(This picture isn’t the supreme pizza)

All in all, this pizza is pretty good, not overly floppy, has a decent amount of toppings and it’s a good size for being a ‘one person’ pizza. I usually cut it into 8 slices and eat half now and save half for later. (Or sometimes I just eat it all) It’s definitely my favourite out of the pizzas I’ve tried from Daiya. I would recommend you try it if you haven’t already.


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iChoc Classic Review




With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, I thought what better food review then a chocolate bar?

Whether you’re celebrating V-Day with a special someone, hanging with your friends, or flying solo, there’s no reason why you can’t indulge yourself with one of the best vegan chocolate bars I’ve tried.

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One of the best/surprising things about this bar is that it’s made with rice milk. Why is that surprising? Well, usually, when something is made with rice milk, it has a certain taste about it, where you can tell it was made with rice milk. This bar, however, doesn’t have that taste much at all. Especially if you’re eating it by itself (instead of binging on a bunch of different vegan chocolates) you can hardly tell it has the ‘rice milk’ taste. It just tastes like… well, chocolate.

Another great thing about this bar is that it’s not bitter at all. Maybe it’s just me, but before discovering vegan chocolate, pretty much the only chocolate I could eat was the Lindt Excellence chocolates, and let me tell you, those are super dark chocolates. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s hard to enjoy more then one or two squares when something is that bitter.

Feeling like you need to chug water after eating chocolate is never a good thing. I’m just not a fan of extremely bitter chocolate. I’d prefer to leave that to my once-in-a-blue-moon coffee.

This bar also comes in a half decent size. I don’t know if you saw my Go Max Go Foods review, but let me tell you, as much as I love their Twilight bar, it’s so small! I know it’s the size of a regular non-vegan Mars/Snickers, etc. bar, but it’s so good, why can’t it be bigger? Maybe they do it on purpose so you buy more, or maybe they just don’t think someone would eat a bigger bar? (They’re wrong, I would totally eat a giant Twilight bar)




This bar is a half decent size, it’s about the size of the Lidnt Excellence bars. I also like that this bar is wider then it is thick – since this is their classic, there’s nothing fancy like caramel or nougat – it doesn’t need to be thick. As much as I love chocolate, biting into a solid thick piece of chocolate isn’t all that fun.

Since it’s the classic bar, I feel like there isn’t all that much I can review for it, other then it tastes pretty good, and doesn’t have any bells or whistles (like the aforementioned caramel or nougat), so if you’re someone who likes chocolate but not all that other stuff, this would be a good place to start. iChoc does make other bars with some ‘extra’ stuff in them (like their Choco Cookie bar has bits of cookie), but I’ll be reviewing those later.

The last thing about this bar I want to say is that it’s somewhat easier to find then the Go Max Go Foods bars. For Go Max, I had to go to a specifically vegan grocery store (like Good Rebel), but for the iChoc bars, I’ve seen them at Healthy Planet, and Foodland. It seems that stores that have a bigger vegan selection might have them (although I haven’t specifically checked Loblaws or Metro). That’s another bonus, I like being able to do my shopping all in one place, and unfortunately all the specialty vegan stores in Toronto are on the opposite side of the city I live in, so it’s a treat to find the vegan things I need in a non-vegan grocer (that’s not 50min away).

I’m not entirely sure if there’s Foodlands or Healthy Planets outside of Canada, but I would say, if you’re looking for the iChoc bars your best bet would be to go to either a specialty vegan store, or the grocer closest to you that has the biggest selection of vegan foods. And I think you could order them online, too.


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Habitant Garden Style Vegetable Soup Review




In keeping with the cold-outside/winter is coming weather, I decided I’d go ahead and do a review of a classic cold weather food: soup!

If you saw my Surprising Vegan Soup collage, then you’ll hopefully have stocked up on some delicious soup to keep you going long after the holidays are over.

This is also going to be the last Product Review of 2018! (They will continue to go up on the 13th of every month)

Okay, without further ado, here’s the Habitant Garden Style Vegetable soup review.

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The first thing I want to address is how f*cking big of a can of soup this is. Seriously. They’re 796ml – that’s easily enough for two bowls of soup. (Maybe even three) Why does Habitant only make such giant cans of soup? They’re usually located on the bottom-er shelves in the soup aisle because they’re so friggin’ big. I don’t know why exactly they make cans of soup for giants, but I’m 100% here for it. I like that this can offers a lot of soup, especially because it’s pretty cheap. You get a lot of soup-per-dollar.

One thing I don’t like about this soup isn’t even related to taste – it’s that there’s no tab on the top to open it. Look, I understand that not every can needs a pull open tab, but (especially because the can is so big) having the tab on the top would make it much easier to open without taking the entire top off, so you can close the lid back down and save it for later, instead of having to pour it out into a container. It’s not that big of a deal – I remember back before those easy-open tabs weren’t even a thing – it’s just something to keep in mind.

In terms of cooking, it’s really easy. Just open, heat on a stove (or in the microwave if you do that sort of thing) and serve. Very simple process. Even people who can’t cook can do it. This also bodes well if you’re really sick and would like something easy and fast to make, so… two birds?




Now, for the actual taste, it’s… soup. If you read my Amy’s Alphabet soup review, you’ll know that I’m not really that big of a fan of soup – I don’t know what it is, I just prefer my meals to be solid.

I don’t hate soup, I just would rather eat say… a sandwich instead. Soup is weird though, you’ve gotta admit that. It’s closer to a beverage then a meal. They should start selling soups in juice containers. That would also make it easier to save some of them for later, so there you go. Take note Soup World.

I don’t want to knock this soup – especially because it’s one of the few that aren’t marketed as being vegan that we can eat – but there’s honestly not too much to it. It tastes exactly how you would expect it to: like vegetables in some broth. It’s not overly salty like I’ve had in some other soups, and it doesn’t taste too watery either. It’s well balanced in terms of it’s flavours, and it has little grains of I think rice (or really tiny pasta shapes) in it as well. That helps fill you up better then soups that don’t have pasta/rice in them, in my opinion.

Other then that, I don’t really have too much to say about this product. It has vegetables in it (so it’s good for you!), is very easy to make, and comes in one of the biggest cans of soup I’ve ever seen. It’s a triple threat!

All in all, I’d recommend you check out/try this product. It won’t exactly blow you away with how amazing it is, but it doesn’t suck. And, especially if you have a hard time finding specifically labelled vegan products where you are, this can I’ve seen pretty much in every store I’ve been in. So it should also be easy to find.


Need help finding more products to stock up with in the winter? Check out my Surviving Canadian Winters post.

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Gardein Turk’y Cutlets and Gravy Review




Apparently American Thanksgiving is coming up (Nov. 22nd – two days after First Try comes out!) so I thought this month, I might as well review a Thanksgiving related food. Enter: Gardein Turk’y Cutlets.

I’d like to start this review out with a sort of disclaimer: as I’ve said in other posts, before going vegan, I was pollotarian, which means the only meat I ate was poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.). I’ll admit, I like the taste of chicken the most out of meats. So, during these reviews, most of the products I try will most likely be faux poultry, or, if they seem skewed in that if/when I do review faux beef/pork/etc. product, I might not like that as much as some of the faux poultries, take my opinion not as gospel.

Okay? Okay. So, let’s get started.

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I’m not gonna lie, these cutlets taste like their Mandarin Orange Chick’n Nuggets and their 7 Grain Crispy Tenders – pretty plain tofu/seitan with breading. I find that – out of the Gardein faux meats I’ve tried – all the faux poultry kinda just tastes the same, with an exception to different breading. Which is fine – I like that taste, so it’s all good.

But the gravy… it tastes like turkey. Not like, ‘oh, it’s sage’ – no. This gravy tastes straight up like turkey. My meat-eater friend confirmed – this tastes like they used real turkey drippings to make the gravy. If this gravy didn’t come out of a Gardein pack, and was just sitting on the table/otherwise handed to me by somebody else, I’d assumed they made a mistake and gave me non-vegan gravy.

And, while I understand wanting to make vegan food that tastes like meat, to me, I just… I don’t know how to feel about this. It tastes a lot like meat gravy, so much so, I got that wretch in the pit of my stomach, because that smell is associated so much with the dead body of a turkey. It was a bit off-putting, to say the least.




I’m one of those vegans, who is okay with eating plants that taste like plants – if it’s close in taste, I’m all for it. When I get skeptical/uneasy, is when it tastes exactly the same. Give me a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms, I’m happy. I actually like the taste of plants, so that doesn’t matter to me. (I touched on this more in my Beyond Burger review)

Obviously, if you’re someone who enjoys vegan food tasting near identical to the real thing, I’d say go for it. I’m not going to not recommend something just because it tastes too ‘real’. Also, it’s not even that – this product is good, the chick’n itself tastes like their nuggets, so you could even just use the cutlets without the gravy packet, if that’s something that would freak you out.

I’d say, if you are going to try the gravy, do so more then once – after getting over the initial shock of how close it tastes your brain calms down and it really does start to taste like sage.

All in all, I’d recommend this product, with probably just a word of caution about the gravy. It can throw you if you’re not expecting it, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying an otherwise good product. I know I, myself will definitely buy this product again in the future, (just as I did with the Beyond Burger), but I would do so with the expectation of knowing what I’m getting. I think that would help your first taste-test go well, too.


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Go Max Go Chocolate Review




With Halloween right around the corner, I thought that it would be a perfect time to review one of the best vegan chocolate companies around – Go Max Go Foods. Also, since it’s nearly Halloween, I thought I would do a special review: the chocolate products I’ve tried of theirs in one review. This way, you can have some chocolate along with your candy.

Let’s get on to the first one:

Twilight Bar

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Said to be the closest vegan chocolate bar to a Mars, this bar has nougat and caramel and is my favourite of the  bunch! It is so rich, soft and chocolatey it’s seriously drool worthy. The caramel stretches when you bite into it like the cheese in pizza commercials, and that might just be the best thing about this bar.

Oh wait, no – the best thing about it is that the wrapper is purple. And purple’s the magic colour, which is probably why this chocolate bar tastes so good.

 

Cleo’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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Dude, it’s a white chocolate peanut butter cup. What else do you need?

Only problem? Only two in a pack.

Cleo’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

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Like the white chocolate ones, except dark chocolate. Same texture, size and ratio of chocolate to peanut butter goodness.

Buccaneer

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This one is still good, but it’s too nougaty for my liking. Biting it is like biting into a brick of nougat. And then, the chewing. There’s so. Much. Chewing.

Who knew a brick of nougat would be so dense?

All these chocolates are great vegan alternatives, but the one downside is that they don’t sell them in those giant boxes that the mixes of Mars, Coffee Crisp, Kit-Kats, etc. Come in. I’m sure I’m not the only vegan who would be down for buying a box of these chocolate bars in ‘fun size’, or hell, full size. (Then you don’t have to eat 20.)

They have a few other products I’ve yet to try, (check them out here), but these guys should be your go-to for all your Halloween-y chocolate-y needs.


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Beyond Meat Burger Review




Update: Beyond Burger will be back in A&W’s starting Oct. 1st!


I’m so happy this is available in Canada now – and it’s all thanks to A&W! If you haven’t heard the news, A&W recently added the Beyond Burger to their menu and Canadians went crazy! The only bad part is that they sold out in a month. While I’m happy it was doing so well, I am a bit worried about the momentum it’ll lose. Beyond Meat set up a newsletter, letting people subscribe to get notified for when the product is back, but I’m worried the initial spark of interest will die and they’ll lose sales. (Not to mention all the would-be buyers they’re missing while trying to get it back in stock) On their site, they do say that this time when it comes back, it’ll be back for good. Let’s hope so.

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The first thing I’d like to say, is that you have to order the burger without the mayo/mustard sauce, to make it actually vegan. That sucks, I know – why add a vegan burger if you have to customize it to make it vegan? Once you request that though, it’s smooth sailing.

My initial impression of this, was that it tasted exactly what I remember beef tasting like. Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve eaten meat (3 years in Feb!) and even longer since I ate ‘real’ beef, so my memory of it might not be the best, but it was definitely close – my non-vegan friend tried it and even said the same thing: it tasted so close to beef we thought they might’ve mixed up the order.

Personally, I don’t see myself getting this very often – that’s not to say it’s bad – it has good texture and is definitely filling – it’s just a little too beefy for my taste. I always find it odd when a plant-based food tastes eerily similar to an animal product. I don’t what it is, or why, but it’s just kinda… weird. Give me a mushroom burger that tastes like mushrooms: hell yeah, I’m game! It’s made of plants, I expect it to taste like it. And, yes, I know that meat usually only tastes that way because of the spices (aka plants) that are put on it, but still.




I don’t know if it’s because I watched Earthlings (which I highly recommend, but it’s graphic) and I’m forever gonna associate meat smells/tastes with those images – so much so that during Thanksgiving when my mom cooks the turkey overnight, or my family cooks beef burgers indoors (or any other really ‘smelly’ meat), it physically makes me nauseous. I rewired my brain, I guess, with the smell/flavours association.

I will say though, that after having it a few times (I was able to try it three times before they sold out), it did start tasting less like beef and more like plants. I think perhaps after the initial shock wore off (like my first time eating seitan) my brain was able to pick up the flavours/spices better and I was able to enjoy it more.

If you’re a vegan who misses the taste of beef, I’d definitely recommend you check this out! If you’re more like me, and try to stay away from the products that taste exactly the same, I’d say you’d probably want to stick with the mushroom burgers. But I definitely think you should try it at least once, just to see what all the hype is about. (Also, it’s the only way to buy the Beyond Meat products in Canada)


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Vegandale Festival Review 2018




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I’m so excited I get to review this festival again. I’m hoping I’m able to go each year it’s on because I loved it even more then last year.

This year, the festival was both Saturday and Sunday, instead of just one day. A whole weekend of vegan food bliss – what could be better?

Vegandale Scenery Liza Simpson - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went in this year with a game plan: bought my tickets in March, went right when it started at 11am, mapped out the best course based on the vendor map they gave us, and brought containers so I could bring the food home. I wanted to have a fool-proof plan of attack so I could try as many different things as possible. I was able to try 17 things this year, and – when compared to the 9 I tried last year – I’d say I definitely got a lot out of the festival. I was happily surprised when I was overly prepared – I went through four vendors in the span of a few minutes – I had to remind myself I had two entire days to try everything and to slow down and enjoy it. I was also happy that I brought too many containers this year, instead of last year when I wished I’d brought more.

I was also over-the-moon happy that some of my friends wanted to go this year, and one of my best friends said they’d happily come back next year with me! I’m so glad they had fun as well.

Vegandale Humour Sign - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The worst things about this year’s festival was the fact I got a bit sunburned (despite slathering myself in sunscreen every two hours) and the fact the festival grounds felt a lot smaller this year. I’m not sure if it’s because there were less vendors, or because it seemed bigger the first time with all the excitement of it being my first festival, but that was a bit sad to me.

Alright, that’s enough of a prelude, time to get to the food!

(Unlike last year, these are listed in order of what I tried first)

Southern Fried Vegan – Soul Bowl

Southern Fried Vegan Soul Bowl - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

Mac n’ cheese, corn and a big ol’ hunk of chick’n on top – what more could you want?

I have to say, I was a little bit hesitant about the corn in the mac n cheese (seriously, is that a thing?) but it turned out to be pretty good. The mac n cheese had a bit of a kick to it, and was creamy and cheesy. It wasn’t super stretchy cheese or anything, but was definitely a good sauce.

The chick’n was good too – it wasn’t chewy or squishy either. I’m not sure if it was seitan or not, but it had a good bite to it – wasn’t too hard, and definitely didn’t over-shadow the rest of the dish.

All in all, I’d definitely get this dish again if it was available. Wasn’t the best thing I had, but it definitely wasn’t bad either.

 

Island Noodles – Soba Noodles

Island Noodles Soba Noodles - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must admit, I’m a sucker for noodle dishes (one of my fav things ever is lo mein), so there was no way I was passing on these guys. Also, they came all the way up from friggin’ Hawaii.

Soba noodles are made from mostly buckwheat (I asked the vendor) and they closer to egg noodles then rice noodles or spaghetti. They were pretty good.

This dish was basically a vegan lo mien and I a million percent was fine with that. I like trying things that aren’t always weird/new, sometimes an old fav hits the spot the same way exotic foods never could. They also gave me the most giant-est piece of broccoli ever, which just made it even better.

If vegan restaurants here started offering this, or they came to Toronto, I would definitely grab this. If you’re ever in Hawaii, I recommend checking out this dish.

 

Compton Vegan – BBQ Jackfruit Ribz

Compton Vegan BBQ Jackfruit Ribz - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never had jackfruit before, so I knew this was something I definitely had to try, but wasn’t too sure what to expect.

The ‘ribz’ were soft-chewy. Y’know if you eat a soup with meat in it, (like chicken noodle) and the meat is really soft/falls apart as soon as you put it in your mouth? It was that soft, but you had to work to rip the piece off from the rest of it, and chew it for a bit after. It was an odd texture to me. Again though, I’d never had jackfruit so I’m not sure if that’s just the texture it is, or if they maybe overcooked it?

I have to admit, this was probably one of my least favourite things at the festival. That said, I don’t like BBQ sauce (or chips) so my opinion might be a bit biased. But based on the texture alone, I don’t think I’d get this again.

 

Pochiche – Poutine w/ Chicken

Pochiche Poutine - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

Fries + gravy + cheese = heaven

As you may or may not know, I have a dairy allergy, so I had my first poutine I believe two years ago now. This is a dish I loved as soon as I tasted it, and in my eyes it’s hard to screw up/make a bad version.

Needless to say, I liked this one. The chicken on top, I can’t remember what the lady at the booth said it was made of, but it had a bit of an off consistency. Not sure if it was because of the extreme heat or what, but it had a bit of an odd mouth feel.

It didn’t exactly add to the dish, but it didn’t really take away either. It was just a bit distracting from the cheesy, gravy-ness of the rest of it.

Lightlife – Smart Dog

Lightlife Hot Dog - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

This was nothing special, it tasted like a hot-dog. It didn’t have that distinctive ‘this taste like plants’ taste that the Yves ones do (not to throw them under the bus, I love their pepperonis and bologne deli slices!), but I mean, it’s a hot-dog. There’s not really anything exciting about it to say.

I feel bad about that though, the fact I don’t have much to say – I don’t want that to come off as me not liking the product. It’s good for what it is, definitely better tasting then the Yves not-dog I tried.

I’d buy this, and I’d recommend you buy/try them too.

 

Nanashake – Loaded Nana Pop

Nanashake Loaded Pop - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

This f*cking thing is probably the fanciest ice-cream I’ve ever had.

It was a chocolate peanut butter ice-cream bar that had coconut whip, caramel drizzle and almond and chocolate biscotti on top. It was awesome. I loved the chocolate and peanut butter, and the caramel swirls running through the middle of it. All that awesome-ness plus the cold-ness was definitely welcomed after walking around in the heat.

They’re in North York and it’s sad yet good that they’re so far away from me because if they were closer I would go there literally all the time. I still plan on going there, just less so then if they were say, five minutes away.

If you live in Toronto or are planning a trip down, I highly recommend you stop by and get this.

 

Ben and Jerry – Almond Chocolate Chunk Ice-cream

Ben and Jerrys Almond Chocolate Chunk Icecream - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, yes, Ben and Jerry’s… while they don’t have too many vegan flavours, the ones they do offer are pretty awesome. This was a pretty simple one – plain vanilla with chocolate chunks mixed in. Not better then their PB and Cookie one, but still good. The chocolate chunks are pretty hard (assuming because they’re frozen) so be careful when biting into them.

I have to hand it to B&J’s, they definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to making ice-cream. Especially now that they’ve jumped on the dairy-free band-wagon.

If you haven’t tried their non-dairy flavours yet, what have you even been doing?

 

Fairly Frosted – Chocolate Brownie Ice-cream

Fairly Frosted Chocolate Icecream - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another treat great at cooling you off on a hot summer’s day.

This chocolate brownie ice-cream is just about as great as chocolate ice-cream can get. Again, this is one of those things that’s hard to get wrong.

The worst thing about this was they only gave out two scoops.




Globally Local – Crispy Chick’N Burger

Globally Local Crispy Chickn Burger - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

If you read my review of last year’s festival, you’ll know how much I loved their Famous Burger.

While I was excited to get my hands back on their Famous Burger, since I learned how to make Mac Sauce at home, I decided I should try something else on their menu. Lucky for me, they made the choice easy by only having the Famous Burger or this one.

I have to say, a breaded chicken burger with Miracle Whip and lettuce is one of those things you don’t realize you missed until you eat it again. And boy did I miss eating them! I’ve always liked them better then regular beef burgers, and it saddens me that there don’t really seem to be any vegan breaded chick’n burger options out there.

The worst thing about this burger was they put what tasted like Veganaise on it (or their home-made equivalent). I still bought one both days and got them to cut it in half so I could take half home.

When are these guys coming to Toronto???

While all the food at the festival this year was pretty close in terms of me liking it, this was still my favourite of the ‘real food’ things.

 

Mythology Diner – Funnel Cake Bites

Mythology Diner Funnel Cake Bites - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

This was by far the most disappointing dish I tried at the festival.

I’ve never had funnel cake before, so I was super hyped to try these, and when I did, well… They tasted like a soggy Tim Bit. When I bit into one, it just squished oil out into my mouth. Not very tasty. Also the strawberry sauce they put on top of them was a bit odd, I think because they were hot? Hot strawberries is taste I don’t like, apparently. I was definitely sad these sucked, probably because before my non-vegan friend had hyped up how great funnel cakes were before going, so I was that much more excited to try them.

I haven’t written funnel cakes off totally though, I’d still be willing to try them if there’s a vegan version somewhere else.

The powdered sugar was good though.

 

While Gold Sweets – Veg Puff

White Gold Sweets Veg Puff - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

Pastry was super flaky, I think it might of been layers of phyllo pastry. The vegetables inside had that spice that I can’t name but is similar in taste to samosas or Indian stews.

It also had a bit of a spicy kick to it. It was good, my only criticism would be either more of the vegetable stuffing, or less of the pastry. There were a few bites were all I had was the dry pastry in my mouth.

 

Sorelle – Chocolate Mocha Cupcake

Sorelle Mocha Cupcake - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate and mocha, what more could you want? It was as good as I assumed it’d be – the chocolate cupcake tasted like a chocolate cupcake, it was really soft and didn’t dry out even after I brought it home. The only thing I didn’t like about this was that there were these little silver balls sprinkled on top of the icing. They were very hard to bite through, like a rocket. Not that they were bad, they pretty much just tasted like sugar, but the rest of the cupcake was so soft, I think they took more away from the soft chocolaty cupcake then added, with the exception of making it look prettier. Especially since the cupcake got smushed in my bag, so it wasn’t like I could see where they were, either. I had to be careful when I was eating it.

 

Sorelle –  Chocolate Doughtnut

Sorelle Chocolate Doughnut - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

This doughnut, while it didn’t have a hole, it did have a small chocolate cookie held on top by a small (but delicious!) squoosh of vanilla icing. It was soft and moist, and super chocolaty, even one day after I bought it. The vanilla icing was awesome too. Maybe I haven’t had ‘real’ icing in a while, but it reminds me of the vanilla icing that’s used at Sobey’s. It’s hard to describe, but it wasn’t ‘light’ like the Betty Crocker Whipped Vanilla icing (yep, that’s vegan!) is, it was more ‘heavy’ but not in an unsettling way. It was good, that’s all you need to really know.

The cookie on top was hard on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. Everything a good chocolate cookie should be. And, it also wasn’t very ‘dark’ tasting, which was nice, since it wasn’t very bitter.

Sorelle has a location in Toronto, and I highly recommend you check them out. (As I know I will be)

Glory Hole – Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Doughnut

Gloryhole Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Doughnut - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

…. Sensing a theme? I subconsciously tried pretty much everything with chocolate in it I could get my hands on.

This tasted like the Nana Pop – chocolaty, peanut buttery and all full of goodness. It did get a little melty in the sun, but I was more then happy to lick the chocolate off my fingers.

These guys are in Toronto too, so I’ll definitely be stopping by to try some of their other creations. Keep an eye on my Instagram to keep up with my food trying adventures!

 

Kelly’s Bakeshop – Salted Caramel Cupcake

Kellys Bakeshop Salted Caramel Cupcake - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands down my favourite dessert. Which is saying something because all the desserts I tried were pretty bomb. (With the exception of the funnel cake bites) I knew as soon as I saw it this was gonna be my favourite one. I love caramel and chocolate, if you couldn’t tell.

Although the icing got smushed in my bag (I tried to be careful too!), it was the same kind of ‘heavy’ as the Mocha cupcake icing. I’d use the word ‘deep’ to describe it, but that’s not the right word. It was just good, even licking it off the plastic container didn’t dampen the flavour.

I highly, highly recommend you try this cupcake because it’s so delicious.

The display they had of their other treats looked awesome too, like their Chocolate Coconut cupcake. I unfortunately got to their booth on the second day when my money was running low, otherwise I definitely would’ve got another cupcake.

I’m so happy these guys deliver to Toronto because I am definitely ordering these again. (I may even get them for the upcoming holidays)

If you’re able to, you definitely have to try these – they’re amazing. Definitely my new favourite cupcake flavour.

 

Julie’s Joyful Kitchen – Chocolate Cookie

Julia's Joyful Kitchen Chocolate Cookie - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

My all time favourite types of cookies are the soft/melt in your mouth ones, and this cookie was one of them.

I ate this the Monday after the festival, and it was still super soft, you couldn’t even tell it was one day old. Soft and chocolaty is personally a weakness of mine. It was a bit bitter, but other then that, it was a chocolate cookie – pretty hard to not nail.

 

Yves – Spicy Italian Sausage

(I didn’t get a picture of this, because it was the last thing I tried before leaving, and it wasn’t really much of a picture – it was a piece of the dog in a little paper cup with a toothpick in the top.)

It tasted like a hot-dog, with a bit of a kick. It wasn’t anything special, like the Lightlife dog – they’re hard to review because it’s a spicy hot-dog. Not too much can be said.

I will say though, that I didn’t know they had these, or that they were vegan, so I’ll definitely be adding them to my shopping list. I like that I discovered these and the Lightlife dogs, it’ll be nice to switch it up from the Tofurky sausages.

Vegandale Scenery - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I had a lot of fun at the festival, not only trying all the amazing food, but I was also lucky enough to meet Lauren Toyota from HotforFood. She was there signing cookbooks, so of course I had to get one.

HotforFood Cookbook - Lauren Toyota Youtuber - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

HotforFood Cookbook - Lauren Toyota Youtuber - AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegandale Festival 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I also got a free water bottle with the purchase of the cookbook, but for some reason every time I tried inserting the picture of it it kept crashing the web-page.)

She’s my favourite vegan Youtuber, and it was amazing to get to see her in person. She was so kind, and seemed genuinely interested in the small convo we had, instead of other famous people who you can tell don’t really want to be there. I’m so grateful I didn’t miss her like I did last year.

This festival so far has gotten better with age, and I can’t wait for next year’s!


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