Category Archives: Vegan Tips

Surprising Vegan Chocolate




One thing I’ve learned since beginning this series is that there are a lot of websites that don’t list the ingredients in their products, and a lot of companies who aren’t willing to give out this information – even when you let them know you’re writing an article. (Apposed to trying to steal their recipe)

Many sites don’t even list allergens, which, I didn’t even know was allowed.

Anyway, that’s why on this Surprising Vegan list, there are companies listed that make labelled vegan chocolate.

I was also surprised to learn about just how many companies are making vegan friendly chocolate! I didn’t think I was going to discover so many!

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - Surprising Vegan Chocolate

Starting in the bottom left corner going counter-clockwise:

  • Endangered Species Panther
  • Endangered Species Grizzly
  • Endangered Species Elephant
  • Endangered Species Owl
  • Endangered Species Chimp
  • Endangered Species Tiger
  • Endangered Species Tamarin
  • Endangered Species Bat
  • Endangered Species Puffin
  • Endangered Species Rainforest
  • Endangered Species Wolf
  • Endangered Species Turtle
  • Endangered Species Penguin
  • Endangered Species Ram
  • Pure Lovin’Denman Island Cocomilk Cherry Cashew
  • Pure Lovin’ OrganicFair Coco-Milk
  • Pure Lovin’ Roasted Nut Medley
  • Pure Lovin’ Almond and Wild Blueberry
  • Pure Lovin’ 71% Dark
  • Alter Eco Seal Salt
  • Alter Eco Salted Almonds
  • Alter Eco Quinoa Crunch
  • Alter Eco Crisp Mint
  • Alter Eco Blackout
  • Alter Eco Super Blackout
  • Lindt Excellence 70%
  • Lindt Excellence 85%
  • Lindt Excellence 90%
  • Lindt Excellence 99%
  • iChoc Classic
  • iChoc White Vanilla
  • iChoc White Nougat
  • iChoc Choco Cookie
  • iChoc Super Nut
  • iChoc Almond Orange
  • Pure Lovin’ Zazubean Sassy Pomegranate and Hazelnut
  • Pure Lovin’ Zimt Coconut Crisp Bar (Raw)
  • Pure Lovin’ Zimt Nib’d Bar – (Raw)
  • Pure Lovin’ OrganicFair Midnight

I was so pleased to learn how many vegan chocolates there are out there. Endangered Species makes a whole vegan-friendly line, and each purchase goes toward helping endangered species of animals (hence the name), Pure Lovin’ is a completely (Canadian!) vegan company, making much more then just bars (they also have vegan chocolate cremes, and chocolate solid dinosaurs!),and Alter Eco also has an entire vegan line of chocolate.

I discovered two other completely vegan chocolate companies: Pascha and Giddy Yo-Yo.

And, Guylian chocolates has some vegan chocolates as well.

I didn’t include Pascha and Giddy Yo-Yo in the list above because they’re 100% vegan companies, and these Surprising Vegan lists are supposed to be foods found from non-vegan retailers. I also didn’t include Guylian because their products aren’t available in Canada/US.

There you have it, my list of Surprising Vegan chocolates. If you have any surprising vegan chocolates I missed, or have an idea for another Surprising Vegan food list I can do, feel free to leave it in a comment below!


Like the Surprising Vegan articles? Check out more of the series here!

3 Year Veganversary





I can’t believe it’s already been another full year! It feels like just yesterday I was writing my 2nd Year Veganversary article – and now I’m already writing the next one? It’s crazy!

Again, it’s hard to know what to say in these posts – do I encourage you to go vegan with me? Do I talk about some of the hardships of going vegan?

Wait, I know. How about a quick food montage? Back before I was vegan, I basically ate the same three things over and over. But since I’ve been vegan? I’ve tried so many different kinds of foods, and even discovered some foods that I didn’t know existed before! (Like Nooch, seitan, oyster mushrooms and black salt)

I not only have expanded my taste buds by trying premade vegan products (like Daiya, Gardein and Tofurky), I also learned how to cook, and I’ve gotta say, I can make some pretty kick-ass things in the kitchen now, compared to the not knowing how to boil hot-dogs before.

Check out all the cool, new shit I learned how to make:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - PETA SolFood Vegan's Spicy Fried Chicken Burger - seitan, vegan food, cooking adventures

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Seitan Bites - vegan food, cooking adventures

This is literally wheat gluten, water (or vegetable broth) and spices. It’s magic! And tastes awesome. I love getting to spice the food right from it’s conception – it gives it so much more flavour, instead of starting with a whole, plain slab of meat and then only putting the seasoning on the outside.

Also, you can turn this into any meat you want – the way you spice it gives it it’s flavour. And, because you’re hand shaping, you can also make it look like whatever you want.

Need some chick’n ‘breasts’? No problem.

AterImber.com - Seitan Chick'N Vegan Recipe

Sausages? Sure thing!

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Spicy Seitan Sausages - vegan food, cooking adventures

Need some wings? Got that too.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Buffalo Seitan Wings - vegan food, cooking adventures

What about burgers?

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - PETAs SolFood Vegans Spicy Fried Chicken - seitan, vegan food, cooking adventures

Yep! Still not a problem. These were actually the first time I made seitan, and was taken from PETA’s SolFood Vegan’s Spicy Fried Chicken recipe.

You could even just leave it together and make a roast out of it, if you really wanted.

The possibilities with seitan are damn near endless.

And it’s got 62g of protein/1C. So, y’know you don’t have to worry about dying from protein deficiency.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Meatball-less Sub w/ Taquitos - Vegan food, cooking adventures

Taquitos? I didn’t even know these were a thing before I discovered them at Good Rebel, and then learned how to make a homemade version.

Side note, if you live in Toronto, you should definitely check Good Rebel out. They’re small, but it’s like a vegan wonderland in there, they have so many products! Also, their egg and sausage breakfast sandwich is amazing.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - The Vegan Zombie Mozzeralla Cheese Sticks - vegan food, cooking adventures

Mozzarella sticks is something I never had before going vegan, let alone know how to make. This recipe I actually got from The Vegan Zombie.

There are a lot of different foods I never tried until I went vegan. Not even just ‘typical’ vegan foods – like seitan, or durian (which admittedly I still haven’t had) – but ‘normal’ foods, like garlic bread, poutine, milkshakes – pretty much anything that had milk in it, I never tried.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Cooking Adventures - Sushi - vegan food

Uhm, hand-rolling sushi with no fish? Oh yeah, I did that, too. It was fun! And apparently because of my small hands, I was naturally good at rolling them.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - HotforFood - HotforFood's Cookbook: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face - Cauliflower Wings and Ranch dip - vegan food

These I made from my favourite vegan Youtubers, HotforFood. Lauren makes amazing vegan food videos, and makes a lot of ‘regular’ foods (ie burgers, wings, etc.) and not just salads. I highly, highly recommend you check out her channel, and that you buy her cookbook 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face. I was lucky enough to get her to sign it at this past years’ Vegandale festival and have made only a few things out of the book, (one of my favs is her Ranch dip) but am very excited to continue trying out more of her recipes.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmellows and Chocolate Drizzle - vegan food, vegan cupcakes, vegan desserts

I learned how to make chocolate cupcakes from scratch, and was pleasantly surprised that my vegan egg substitute of applesauce for eggs worked! The last time I had tried this switch, I was making brownies, and it didn’t exactly work out.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vanilla Cherry Pie Cupcakes - Vegan Food - vegan desserts

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Chocolate Cherry Pie Cupcakes - Vegan Food - vegan desserts

I also invented my own Cherry-Pie Cupcakes after learning how to make the cupcakes above. I’ve made these the past 2 years for my dads’ birthday and he absolutely loves them. (These pictures are a bit ‘foggy’ because I had icing on the camera)

It’s not even just the foods I’ve learned how to make, there’s also a whole world of restaurants and pre-made foods I never would’ve discovered had I not got into veganism!

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

Poutine! It’s always a win. Look at that deliciousness!

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

Globally Local I’m a fan of – and they’re not even available in Toronto yet! I had the great fortune of trying them at the festival both years, and neither was disappointing. (With the exception that they aren’t in Toronto!)

AterImber - The Veg Life - Hogtown Vegan - Unchick'N Ceasar Wrap - Vegan food

Hogtown Vegan is in Toronto, and this thing is amazing, too. It’s giant, delicious, and was actually the first time I ever tried seitan – and that was even before I went vegan! It’s since become my ‘regular’ order when I go there. Some of my other favourites of theirs is their poutine, mac n cheese and chick’n burger. I highly recommend you check them out as well, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood.

These guys I only tried once, but again, was blown away. The sandwich was awesome, and it saddens me that they’re all the way in Texas. Also, those were oyster mushrooms? Whaaat?

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

Salted Caramel cupcakes are a must! I loved these so much and was very upset I was only able to buy one.

I won’t give you the total play-by-play, I’ll leave my food adventures on my Instagram. Also, if you want to check out the reviews I did of the above restaurant foods, you can find them here.

With all the awesome vegan restaurants opening, and all the new products that are becoming available, it’s becoming so easy to go vegan.

Also, if the food wasn’t enough to convince you, maybe this will:

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - 3 Year Veganversary - Vegan Calculations: animals, water, and forest saved

Whether you’re thinking about going vegan for the animals, your health, or the environment, you can’t argue with numbers like these. 1,000+ animals saved in the 3 years I’ve been vegan by doing nothing else but changing my diet? Can I get a hell yeah?

Being vegan is one of the most passive ways to help save the planet and animals that I can think of. You don’t have to go out and protest, you don’t have to talk about it. You can be a quiet activist and vote with your dollar.

With so many great options available, and so many stats outlining the dangers of not going vegan, I’m truly baffled that some people haven’t gotten on board yet. I mean, I haven’t been vegan forever, but I don’t think I ever tried debating that animal agriculture was good for the environment, or that murdering innocent beings was right.

Seriously, how are there still people who think veganism isn’t the answer?


Want to check out how much YOU save by being vegan? Do so here!

Want to learn more about veganism? Check out more tips here!

Surprising Vegan Soup




Hey!

Sorry this post took so long, but I was having… technical difficulties waiting for companies to reply to e-mails. (If you follow me on Twitter, you know what I’m talking about)

Anyway, that’s also why I listed Amy’s Kitchen, because even though they’re marketed as being vegan (and are therefore not really ‘surprising’) I had to include them due to the lack of response from other companies about their products. I may or may not update this post with the new products once I hear back.


Winter is coming!

And what better way to prepare yourself for the upcoming -40 blizzard weather then with some pre-made soup?

Answer: There isn’t. Except for maybe also stocking up on some hot chocolate.

That’s why I’ve decided to make this Surprising Vegan Soup Collage, so that your shopping trips are that least bit less irritating. I know I don’t like coming in from outside, freezing cold, and then get sweaty standing in the aisles of stores because you’re reading ingredients on products.

Also, with the holidays coming up, you’ll want to save as much of your stomach room as possible for the festivities. These soups aren’t too filling, inexpensive and last a while on your shelf. (So you can have them stocked for that mid-January holiday burnout)

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - Surprising Vegan Soup - vegan, food, soup

From the top left-hand corner, the soups in this collage are:

  • Habitant Garden Style Vegetable
  • No Name Rich and Chunky Vegetable with Pasta
  • No Name Tomato
  • No Name Vegetable Broth
  • Lipton Cup-A-Soup Spring Vegetable
  • Presidents Choice Hearty Vegetable and Navy Bean
  • Amy’s Kitchen Light In Sodium Minestrone
  • Amy’s Kitchen Light In Sodium Lentil and Vegetable
  • Amy’s Kitchen Split Pea Soup
  • Amy’s Kitchen Fire Roasted Southwestern Vegetable
  • Amy’s Kitchen Chicken Noodle
  • Amy’s Kitchen Black Bean Vegetable
  • Amy’s Kitchen Minestrone
  • Amy’s Kitchen Vegetable Barley
  • Amy’s Kitchen Lentil Vegetable
  • Amy’s Kitchen Alphabet
  • Amy’s Light In Sodium Split Pea
  • Amy’s Light In Sodium Lentil Soup
  • Campbell’s Soup at Hand Garden Tomato
  • Mr. Noodles Mushroom
  • Mr. Noodles Vegetable
  • Knorr’s Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • Compliments Vegetable Instant Noodles

**As always, these products being vegan is specific to Canada. Ingredients may differ from country to country.**




In my research, I also discovered that Campbell’s has a line of soups called Well Yes! (US only). The ones that are vegan from that list are:

  •  Campbell’s Well Yes! Harvest Carrot and Ginger Sipping
  • Campbell’s Well Yes! Lightly Salted Santa Fe Vegetable
  • Campbell’s Well Yes! Red Bean and Vegetable
  • Campbell’s Well Yes! Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper
  • Campbell’s Well Yes! Italian Vegetables with Farro
  • Campbell’s Well Yes! Hearty Lentil with Vegetables

And there you have it! 23 soups you might not of known were vegan – completely by accident! You should be able to find these in any ‘regular’ grocery store. (I believe No Name might be a Canada-only brand)

Have an idea of a Surprising Vegan food group I should tackle? Leave it in a comment below!


Like this post? Check out more here!

Surprising Vegan Halloween Candy




Ah, Halloween.

A great night where kids get to dress up, explore the neighbourhood, and get free candy. Sadly, this night only comes once a year, so you’ve gotta make it count.

If you’re newly vegan, you might be wondering, ‘what are the chances my kid (or yourself) will be able to eat any typical Halloween candy?’ Well, check out the collage below and you’ll see, it’s more then you think. There are plenty of products that are ‘accidentally’ vegan by nature, even though they’re not advertised as such.

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Surprising Vegan Halloween Candy - Halloween Candy, halloween, holiday

Starting in the top left corner, going clockwise:

  • Ruffles Original
  • Ruffle’s All Dressed
  • Pringles Original
  • Airheads (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellows 5+6)
  • Pringles Ketchup
  • Old Dutch Ketchup
  • Old Dutch Original
  • Twizzlers
  • Pull N Peel
  • Super Nibs
  • Jujubes (Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5&6)
  • Hickory Sticks
  • Sweet Chili Heat Doritos
  • Sun Chips Original
  • Lays Oven Baked
  • Lays Salt N Vinegar
  • Lays Classic*
  • Mini Oreos
  • Rockets (In the US, called Smarties)
  • Swedish Fish (Red 40, Yellow 5&6, and Blue 1)
  • Jolly Ranchers (Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5&6)
  • Gobstoppers (Carmine Colour, Blue 1&2, Red 40, Yellow 5&6)
  • Mike and Ikes (Red 40, Yellow 5&6, Blue 1)
  • Nerds
  • Pixy Stix
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Maynards Fuzzy Peaches (Yellow 5, Red 40)
  • Maynards Swedish Berries
  • Skittles Original
  • Maynards Sour Cherry Blasters (Contains Tartrazine [Yellow 5])

*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)

As explained in my Candy collage, I’ve listed the food dyes next to certain candies because these food dyes aren’t vegan. It’s a choice you need to make for yourself – where is the line for you? Remember, no Vegan Police are going to show up at your house if you ingest something that has animal by/products in it.

The only downside to this is that pretty much all the chocolate has milk in it. 🙁 You’ll most likely have to buy a vegan brand of chocolate if you want that on Halloween night. I’d suggest Go Max Go they make some great chocolate! I’d also advise not handing vegan-specific chocolates out to Trick Or Treaters, unless you’ve got a money tree in your backyard.


Like this post, or curious to learn more about veganism? Check out my Veg Life page!

Surprising Vegan Alcohol




The holidays are fast approaching and that means one thing: Parties.

If you’re vegan, the holidays are hard enough: dealing with family members asking questions, ‘joking’ about veganism with you, and let’s not forget the giant, dead sentient being in the middle of the table. While I’m not saying alcohol is the answer, you can’t deny having a drink might make the holidays that much more bearable.

Or, perhaps, you’re hosting a party, and know a vegan is coming, and want them to at least have some sort of drink option other then water. (And are freaking out because you don’t know what to look for)

Whatever the reason you’re here, you can rest easy knowing the below are vegan-friendly (even though they don’t say on the bottle).

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Surprising Vegan Alochol - Vegan Drinks

Here is a list of the alcohol pictured, starting in the top left corner and continuing clockwise:

  • Smirnoff Ice
  • Guinness Original*
  • Guinness Draught
  • Guinness Extra Stout
  • Guinness Foreign Stout
  • Mill Street Lager
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade**
  • Stella Artois
  • Stella 4%
  • Blackfly Grape***
  • Blackfly Sour Cherry
  • Blackfly Orange
  • Jaw Drop Gushing Grapes****
  • Jaw Drop Puckering Punch
  • Jaw Drop Sucking Lemons
  • Jaw Drop Tickling Pink
  • Jaw Drop Licking Limes
  • Jaw Drop Flashing Peaches
  • Jaw Drop Squirting Oranges
  • Smirnoff Ice Raspberry
  • Smirnoff Ice Green Apple
  • Bailey’s Almande
  • Corona
  • Absolut Vodka*****

As you can see from the above list, there are many different types of alcohol that vegans can drink, even if they’re not marketed as ‘vegan’. Hopefully, this list helps you out with your future holiday planning, and if you’re a vegan going to a party and you’re not sure if there will be drinks you can have, keep your eye out for one of the above.




Have a drink that’s not on this list you’re wondering might be vegan? Check out Barnivore.com for a more complete list of vegan alcohol. The cool thing about them, is they don’t only tell you what’s vegan, they also tell you what’s not.


Like this list? Check out more Vegan Tips here!

*From Guinness’ FAQs: Yes, it is (vegan) from the keg format for now. Our new filtration process has removed the use of isinglass as a means of filtration and vegans can now enjoy a pint of Guinness.

All Guinness Draught in keg format is brewed without using isinglass. Full distribution of bottle and can formats will be in place by the end of 2017, so until then, our advice to vegans is to consume the product from the keg format only for now.

**Mike’s Hard Lemonade LITE contains honey

***All Blackfly flavours are vegan! I e-mailed the company and was very pleased to hear the news. The flavours pictured are the only ones I’ve been able to find (in Canada)

****All Jaw Drop flavours are also vegan! As said in this tweet, straight from the company. The flavours pictured are (again), the only ones I’ve found

*****A note on Barnivore from 2014 says the owner of Absolut is a ‘major funder of bullfighting’ (No update as of posting)

Honey




If ever there was a trigger word in the vegan community, honey is hands down in the top 5. I’ve never seen more of a divide in the community then when someone brings up honey. Some of you non-vegans might be surprised to learn that there’s more foods we (vegans) don’t eat aside from meat and dairy. (And eggs)

I personally don’t eat honey, for reasons I’ll talk about below, but I want to start this by saying I didn’t write this article to sway anyone into not eating it. I understand honey has a lot of health benefits and it can even be used as medicine. I’m just a faceless post on a website stating the facts. What you do with those facts is completely up to you. I can’t force you, the same way I can’t force you to go vegan. All I can do is present the facts and hope you’ll make the compassionate choice.

But wait, aren’t they just bugs? Why should we care? Those are great questions, and, a valid point. Why care about bugs?

If you’re a vegan reading this, you should already know that we don’t wear silk, and that comes from worms. Along that same reasoning, animals are just animals, why bother sparing them? While I don’t have a dedicated article to the horrors animals endure in slaughterhouses, how about we go with sympathy? Animals have nervous systems, feel pain, joy, sadness, emotions – some of them are smarter then dogs, even. And eating dogs is ‘wrong’, right? It’s not a question about being exactly the same, it’s more having compassion for another living thing that we share the earth with. No offence, but animals were here long before humans, and they’ll (hopefully) be here long after we’re gone. Unfortunately, because of humans, lots of animals are now in danger of extinction. (Bees are on that list, BTW)

Let’s look at some facts about honey:

– It takes pollen from five million flowers to produce one pound of honey

– Beekeeper’s use cyanide gas so bees don’t fly away

– Clip wings of queen and/or will transfer her to a different colony (where she’ll most likely get killed by the other bees)

– Kill off the colonies because it’s not cost effective to have them fed through the winter months

(Want to learn more? I recommend checking out What The Health?)

And, of course, there’s the two reasons that made me stop eating honey:

– It’s bee vomit

– Stealing from baby bees

Yes, eating honey is stealing it from baby bees. You’re literally stealing candy from a baby. They produce honey as a way to get nutrients to the babies. You wouldn’t voluntarily steal food from any other baby, right? So why do it to bees? Not only is that like, super not cool, but bees are essential to the eco-system. The more we mistreat them to produce honey, the more endangered they become. The more endangered they become, well, it’s goodbye planet.

As I said above, it’s truly a personal choice, but I personally feel that 1) Ingesting someone else’s vomit is gross, and 2) I wouldn’t steal food from any other species baby, so why do it to bees? (Even if they are ‘just bugs’)

If you could help keep kids getting food/nutrients they need, and help the earth, by doing something as simple as changing what you put in your tea, or on your toast, is it really even still a question of whether or not you should?


Like this article? Check out vegan tips, recipes and more on my Veg Life page!

Surprising Vegan Candy




I’ve decided to turn ‘Surprising Vegan _____’ into a series, since there’s too many things to place in just 1 collage.

So, this week we’ll be looking at Surprising Vegan Candy. These are candies that are vegan friendly (in Canada), even though they’re not marketed as being vegan. (Hence the ‘surprise’)

AterImber.com - The Veg Life - Vegan Tips - Surprising Vegan Candy Collage

From the top left clockwise, this collage includes:

  • Swedish Fish (Red 40, Yellow 5+6, and Blue 1)
  • Twizzlers
  • Jolly Ranchers (Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5+6)
  • JuJubes (Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5+6)
  • Super Nibs
  • Maynards Fuzzy Peaches (Yellow 5, Red 40)
  • Nerds
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Pixy Stix
  • Maynards Swedish Berries
  • Skittles Original
  • Maynards Sour Cherry Blasters (Contains Tartrazine [Yellow 5])
  • Rockets (Called Smarties in the US)
  • Pull N Peel
  • Airheads Originals (Red 40, Blue 1, Yellows 5+6)

Now, you may be wondering, why did I list Food Dyes next to some of the candy? Well, that’s because these food dyes aren’t vegan, since they’re tested on animals, and, Red 40 is made out of crushed cocchineal beetles. ‘But then, why list them on a vegan candy collage?!’ Well, I believe that this might be one of those ‘how far down the rabbit hole’ things. We all know it’s impossible to be 100% vegan already, and while that’s certainly not an excuse, I want to throw the choice to you. I’ve seen some vegan products that have the food dyes listed, so the choice is yours. It’s hard enough already to find ‘regular’ food that vegans can eat, don’t make it harder on yourself.

Eating some candy once in a while  won’t make the Vegan Police show up at your house and revoke your vegan card. Do I wish that these candies didn’t have the food dyes? Yes, of course. Am I guilty of still eating some of these candies on occasion? Yes, I am. While I do my best to completely avoid Red 40 (since, y’know it’s literally crushed beetles), I don’t agonize over the fact if I eat candy (whether intentionally or by accident) that have the other dyes in them. That doesn’t make me less vegan, and it won’t make you, either.

We don’t live in a society that caters to vegans, and, should you be in a pinch, or not able to make it to your favourite vegan store to stock up on ‘real’ vegan candy, it’s nice to know what ‘regular’ candy you can pick up without stressing about it, especially, say for Halloween, when you need to pick up a giant pack of candy for cheap (let’s face it, vegan candy is pretty expensive), these are regular candies that are sold in bulk, that you shouldn’t feel you need to completely get rid of.


Like what you read? Check out my Veg Life page for tips, reviews and more!

Store Crawl #1: Zehr’s




I’ve wanted to do these Store Crawls for a while, but there was always something more important/immediate that had to get done.

I’ve finally decided to stop putting it off, so welcome to the first Store Crawl!

Store Crawls are going to be articles where I take you through/list all the vegan offerings available at a non-vegan grocery store (No Frills, Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, etc.), in the hopes it helps you out should you need to buy something. Now, since these aren’t vegan-centric grocers, I’ll only be listing the premade stuff, that’s available more in a grab and go style, like the deli meats, cheeses, etc. Hopefully, this will help you should you ever find yourself away from your preferred grocery store so you aren’t scrambling for something, also this may help you with your day-to-day shopping.

Okay, so, without further ado, here’s the first Store Crawl:

I know Zehr’s is not in Toronto (I’ve yet to find one, anyway), so if you live outside of Toronto (say, New Market, or Barrie), this might be of more help to you. I’ll be posting other Store Crawls for stores that are actually in the city soon, so keep your eye out!

I’m starting with Zehr’s because I was just there this past weekend and figured, why not start with the one that’s fresh in my mind?

Here’s what I found:

Apparently, Zehr’s is owned by Loblaws, so they have a lot of vegan options, thankfully. They pretty much had all this stuff in one aisle, (I believe it was labelled the ‘Natural Foods’ aisle) which was super convenient for me, I didn’t have to run around the entire store!

Deli Section: (Next to the meat counter)

  • Yves Lunch Meats (Turk’y, Ham, Bologne, and pepperoni)
  • Yves Not-dogs
  • Daiya Shreds (Mozzerella and Cheddar, no slices or blocks)

Natural Foods Aisle

Fridge/Freezer:

  • Silk (I didn’t see Silk Almond, just the Soy, also didn’t see the Chocolate one, just Plain and Vanilla)
  • Earth Balance Butter
  • Veganaise
  • Daiya Yogurt
  • Daiya Pizza
  • Gardein Nuggets (7 Grain Crispy Tenders, Mandarin Orange Chick’N nuggets and the Fishless Filets)
  • Hilary’s Burgers (green box [which I believe is their original?], and I think there was a purple box [Spicy Thai] too)
  • Sol Burgers (Quinoa)
  • Nature’s Path Organic Buckwheat Blueberry Waffles (Gluten Free!)
  • Amy’s Kitchen Black Bean Vegetable Burrito (the green and blue wrapper one)
  • So Good Ice-cream (chocolate)

Shelf:

  • Almond Breeze
  • Rice Dream
  • Coconut Oil
  • Amy’s Kitchen Cans (Organic Alphabet Soup [my favourite!], Organic Lentil, Vegetable Soup, Organic Fire Roasted Southwestern Vegetable soup, and they had a black can, I’m not too sure which kind that one was)
  • Daiya Mac (Deluxe Cheddar and Deluxe Alfredo – they were $4.49!)
  • Nuts To You Organic Tahini Paste (and almond and other nut butters)
  • Skinny Pop White Cheddar Popcorn
  • Veggie Sticks
  • Love Beauty and Planet Shampoo (never seen/heard of this brand before, I bought a bottle, keep an eye out for the review!)

And there you have it! Most, if not all the vegan finds available at Zehr’s.

I did my best to keep all the proper brand names/flavours, as I felt it’d be more comprehensive to list the ‘official’ flavours, instead of just listing (as example) ‘Gardein nuggets’. I’m sure some of you would still understand what I meant if I did it in short-hand, but I thought it might just make it easier, especially if you’re wanting to find a certain product for the first time, or requesting it.

I hope you found this list helpful, and I look forward to doing more of them in the future.


Like this article? Check out more vegan related posts on my Veg Life page!

2nd Year Vega-versary

Two years. I can’t believe it’s already been two years of being vegan. I don’t even really know what to say. I could go cliché and say that if I could do it, you could too. Or I could go into detail about why I went vegan, but I feel like I’ve already covered that. I did have a post I wrote about my 1 Year Veganversary, but apparently I didn’t post it, and after re-reading it, it didn’t really say much except for, ‘wow! I can’t believe it!’ So, I’ll spare you. In case you’re wondering (although I’m pretty sure I’ve written this out somewhere else) here’s why I went vegan:

New Year’s Eve 2015, I decided to make my New Year’s Resolution to be vegetarian. There wasn’t really anything specific that triggered it, I just wanted to do something different that year. (Usually me and my family just made stupid resolutions, anyway) I was ‘successfully’ vegetarian until about June or July. By that time, it had gotten to be 40+ Celsius, and, me being the idiot I was, I was on the subway and didn’t eat breakfast or drink any water. Guess what happened next. I started getting dizzy and had black spots dancing at the edges of my vision. I got home okay, (luckily) and chugged some water. That incident didn’t do very well for quelling my mother’s concerns about it being an okay/healthy diet. And, while now I know why that happened, at the time I somewhat agreed with her. So, after that, I decided I’d be pollotarian (someone who only eats poultry), but was still curious about vegetarianism, and I had ended up stumbling across a Reddit thread that said something like, ‘If you want to go vegan, watch the following documentaris’. Being a curious person, I decided to check out the documentaries. The first one I watched, Vegucated I didn’t really like, because they were coming at veganism as an aid for weight-loss. A few months after that, I watched Earthlings, and well… let’s just say that one stuck. Even though I still didn’t really know anything about the products, or this or that, I just couldn’t continue non-vegan after that. It was pretty much an instant resolve to stop, which was a bit hard because I still lived with non-vegan family. So I started researching, anything that related to veganism, I read. That was back in Feb. 2016, and I’m still going.

I’ve learned so much within just the past two years, it’s crazy. It seems all that was so long ago!

I do still have some non-vegan items, and while I’m not proud I still have them, I’m not ashamed to say I’m not 100% vegan yet. (But, I mean, is that really a thing?)

During the first year I went vegan, I had focused on just switching over my diet, because while I wanted to immediately change everything overnight (… can you tell I’m an ethical vegan?) that was neither practical nor possible. I didn’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to allow me to switch over everything I own, so I decided the best place to start would be the kitchen, and I could continue to replace other aspects each year/couple months, once I found out more information, had the means to do so.

And, I’d like to say, if you’re thinking about going vegan, but think doing something like the above (not immediately getting rid of every non-vegan thing in your house) would mean you’re not a ‘true vegan’ – don’t even go there. You are 100% a true vegan as long as your heart is in it. Don’t worry too much about being perfect.

It’s not a cult. No Vegan Police are gonna show up and haul you off to jail. Relax. Change over in your own time, as long as you’re committed to doing so, you’ll get there eventually. And, by you even just thinking about changing already puts you on the right path. It’s about getting on the right path, not being dropped at the end of it. Life is a journey and all that crap.

Also, unless you were born with literally all the knowledge ever, you’re going to make some mistakes, or use something that you’d think would be fine (like, say, a plastic bag, or your phone) only to discover later that it’s actually not vegan. And that’s fine. You’re not gonna throw your phone off a bridge – that’s just not practical. There are, unfortunately, some items you use/have to use in today’s society that aren’t vegan.

That does not mean you are a lesser vegan, or aren’t a real one at all. It’s about trying.

Hell, the definition is even: Is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

So, again, relax. As long as you’re trying, and not eating straight up flesh you’re doing fine.

During this second year, I focused my efforts on beginning to switch non-food items, like toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, etc.). I even discovered some ‘hidden’ food items that weren’t vegan I was unknowingly eating. Lays plain (original) potato chips, for instance is made with pork enzymes, and food dyes such as Red #40 is made out of crushed cochineal beetles, and the others (Yellow #5, 6, Blue, etc) are tested on animals. Sad to discover, for sure – especially because Lays doesn’t have the information readily available on their website. The only reason why I even found it was because I was doing research for the vegan cookbook I’ve been working on, and stumbled upon a comment on some vegan forum somewhere. From there, I had e-mailed the parent company (Frito-Lay) about multiple products, and only after asking about it, was I linked to this list* that has all the chips that are made without pork enzymes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s disappointed to learn some of the plain chips contain enzymes.

Things like this always bring about the same question to me: how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

Obviously, pork enzymes is pretty bad, as well as food dyes tested on animals, but should I be expected to contact the parent company every time I’m faced with a situation that is a bit unknown? Of course, I contact the company as often as possible, so that I’m making the best decision, or, if I don’t know, and aren’t able to get an immediate response, (say, for example at a family gathering, where I wasn’t expecting to have said item called into question) I’ll always just pass. Or, if it’s something they bought/cooked ‘specifically for me’ I’ll research, call the company (stay on hold for as long as it takes), or (if I’m not able to get a response, or get an ‘I don’t know’), I’ll take the item home (if able) and continue researching until I get an answer.

It sucks to do that for sure, having to stop the fun of the party or make that person worry when they thought it was fine, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some of you reading this might think that’s rude and will say to just accept it, even if it’s questionably vegan, but I say: why would I put something in/on my body if I don’t know what’s in it, whether or not I was vegan? I don’t think I’ve ever done that, I’ve always asked what’s in something, not even just because I had an allergy, but because I honestly am confused why people would just accept something. There could be literally anything in that, and you don’t know. I’d much rather not eat/use it, and offend the person for a minute, (or, better yet, share the new information so they can avoid the mistake in the future) then have something that I use/is in my mouth when I find out it wasn’t vegan. It’s just… ‘safer’ to not accept it.

If they get offended (which, c’mon, really?) just apologize and tell them you appreciate the gesture, and (if it was a ‘hidden’ ingredient like the food dyes, or something else) tell them they were so close/on the right track! It’s not their fault companies don’t list everything on their packaging (going back to the Lays Original, no where on that bag does it say it contains pork enzymes), so please, please don’t get mad/upset at them for not knowing. Try to remember that not only is it not their fault, but also, would you have known that before you went vegan? No, so don’t go shaming them for not doing hours upon hours of research. Also, some items do say Cruelty-Free or Vegan and have the food dyes or honey, so they might’ve assumed (the same way I’m sure you do sometimes) that if it says vegan right on it, it’d be safe.

Going back to the how far down the rabbit hole thing, I really think it depends on the person. Same as how some vegans eat honey, while others don’t. (I don’t, in case you wondered) It’s all about perspective, and, while it might seem blatanly obvious to some, others either don’t see it that way (and never will), or, haven’t done enough research to know, so they eat/use it unknowingly.

Bottom line: It takes time to learn what’s vegan and what’s not, so don’t be ‘that guy’ and be an asshole because they don’t know something. Instead, why don’t you try helping them discover information. For example, if your non-vegan friends come over, get them to try some vegan food. Don’t force it down their throats, but maybe make it a rule: when you come to my house, you eat vegan. That’s a very reasonable request, and if any of your friends cause a fuss, then tell them they’re not welcome in your house. It’s not that hard. Or, (if you’re okay with it) tell them they can bring their own non-vegan dish (that’s already cooked, unless you don’t care about having non-vegan food ‘contaminate’ your kitchen). It’s your house, you can set the rules, and if they don’t like it, or (for some reason) aren’t comfortable with that, well, then maybe they shouldn’t come over?

You know, as a living, breathing vegan that you don’t need animal products to survive, so if they really can’t eat those 2 out of how-ever-many-meals-you-eat-in-a-lifetime vegan when they come over, then that’s definitely a problem. Also, don’t be afraid to bring subjects like this up with your friends. Don’t attack them, obviously, but ask them their views, and if they’d be okay with it. Present your point of view, and why it’s important to you, for example, to keep your kitchen vegan.

That said, again, it’s 100% up to you, what you’re comfortable with. No one can (or should) tell you what you’re okay with.

It’s been awesome so far, I’ve discovered so many new, amazing products. Nooch is now a staple in my kitchen, when only two years ago I didn’t even know it existed. Same with black salt, and a bunch of other products. I even went to my first vegan festival this past year! That was such an amazing experience, I’m definitely going again this summer. If you haven’t seen it, you can read my review of it here.

I’m super excited to discover even more vegan products in the coming years. I can’t wait to see what else they come out with!


*That list is just the Canadian one, this is the US one, and I haven’t been able to find one for other countries. I recommend getting in contact with them to see if there’s one available for you’re country. (I know usually, UK and Canadian products are produced pretty similar in the ways that they’re produced, so if you live in the UK, I’d suggest using the Canadian list if there isn’t a UK one)


Want to learn more about veganism? Check out The Veg Life, for awesome recipes, product reviews and more!

Surviving Canadian Winters




I decided to write this article because in my first year of going vegan, I Googled this very topic and guess what came up? Nothing. Well, not nothing nothing – there were some articles that were about ‘surviving winter’ but they didn’t do anything. Apparently, no vegans in Canada wanted to pass this oh-so-important wisdom down so I was basically on my own.

You may be wondering: why such worry about making it to the store? That’s a good question. Having to rely on public transit is not always the easiest during winter. Between the closures/detours due to weather and some routes not being driven altogether, you don’t really want to go through that on top of the freezing weather.

My top two suggestions for making these stock-up trips:

  1. Stretch multiple trips out over the fall months (Sept.-Nov.) and try to remember this has to last you until you’re able to walk outside again (around/after Feb.)
  2. Get these before it’s too cold to leave your house. Trust me, you really don’t want to go out in the middle of December when it’s -40C because you forgot bread.

So, for my fellow Canadian-vegans, when the snow banks are 4ft. tall and your door locks are frozen shut, fear not! I’m here to make those last trips to the store easier for you.

Obviously, you don’t need to get everything on this list. This is just a list of foods you may want to stock up on for the colder months. If nothing else, these should (hopefully) lessen your worry about getting through winter, even if they’re not exactly ‘essentials’. Also, who wants to get a hot chocolate craving only to find they’re out?

I recommend checking out my Vegan Staples list first, since that lists all the food essentials*, then come back here to see what else from this list you might want to stock up on.

Pantry

  • Hot Chocolate (I like Castle Kitchen’s Classic Caramel)
  • Marshmallows (Dandies)
  • Mr. Noodles (Mushroom and Vegetable)
  • Daiya Mac N Cheese (Alfredo Style, Cheddar, White Cheddar with Veggies)
  • Gravy (I like Road’s End Savoury Herb)
  • Mashed Potato Flakes (if you don’t/can’t lug a whole bag of potatoes home)
  • Kraft Peanut Butter with Chocolate (yes, it’s vegan, and it’s amazing)
  • Hummus/Salad Dressing/Some type of spread so you don’t eat dry sandwiches all winter
  • Shake N Bake/Bread Crumbs
  • VeganEgg
  • Winter Holiday baking supplies (cocoa powder, flour, sugar, egg replacer/applesauce, etc.)

Cans: (Check out my Surprising Vegan Soup post for more!)

  • Amy’s Alphabet Soup (my favourite!)
  • Amy’s Organic Vegetable Barley
  • Amy’s Fire Roasted Southerwestern Vegetable
  • Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable
  • Habitant Garden Style Vegetable Soup
  • Hunt’s Manwich Original Sloppy Joe

Snacks:

  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers (Triscuits, Vegetable Thins, Ritz, Premium Plus)
  • Cookies
  • Popcorn Kernels (and ketchup powder!) or Skinny Pop
  • Chocolate (chips, bars)
  • Licorice (Twizzlers as a stir-stick in hot chocolate = amazing)

Freezer

  • Butter/Margrine 6 months
  • Seitan 1yr
  • Tofu** (can give it a ‘chewier’ texture, drain and place in Ziplock) 3-5 months
  • Daiya Products (cheese blocks/pizza) 6 months
  • Tofurky Products (sausages/deli slices/pizza/pizza pockets) 1yr
  • Gardein Products (7 Grain Crispy Tenders, Mandarin Orange Chick’N, Pizza Pockets, etc.) 6 months
  • Field Roast Products (burgers, sausages, deli slices, etc.) 1yr
  • Yves Products (pepperoni, deli slices, ground round) 1-3 months
  • Fries (smiley/crinkle/straight-cut)
  • Hash Browns
  • Taquitos (Starlight Beef are good)
  • Burritos (Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable and Bean and Rice are good)
  • Perogies
  • Tortillas (place parchment in between to prevent tearing) 6-8 months
  • Ice-cream (I know it’s gonna be cold, but some days…)

*I don’t yet have a non-food essentials list, but I’m working on it! I’ll be posting it hopefully sometime next year, but I’m hoping you don’t really need me to tell you to stock up on non-food essentials (toilet paper).

**Tofu may change from white to a yellow or amber colour. Don’t freak out, it’s still perfectly safe to eat. Let it thaw and cook as usual.

Keep in mind, that some of these items are heavy, so you might want to buy one of those shopping carts on wheels, or bring a luggage that has wheels on it with you and fill that up – instead of making eighty-seven little trips to the store. (But hey, if that’s your thing, you go right ahead).

As stated above, this isn’t really an essentials list, so don’t feel like you have to buy everything on here. This list isn’t a be-all, end-all of winter stock up foods. These are just (hopefully) enough to get you thinking in terms of, ‘What will I be craving three months from now when I’ve been stuck inside all day?’

Also, keep in mind that winter not only brings cold, but also holidays. So, you may need to add some holiday specific items to your list as well. Usually, I try to plan in advanced what I’ll be making, but I know that’s not always plausible.

If all else fails, you can always get groceries delivered.