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The Vegan Project recently had the opportunity to try Provence restaurant’s new Meatless Mardi set menu, which we learned will be featured every Tuesday at the restaurant’s two locations – Provence Marinaside at the end of Davie Street in Yaletown, and Provence Mediterranean Grill at 4473 West 10th in Point Grey.  The menu will change from week to week, depending on availability of local ingredients.

Chef and Proprietor, Alessandra Quaglia, was intrigued by the challenge of creating a healthier menu that would also be more eco-friendly after realizing the effect of emissions from animal processing plants far outweighs that of cars, in addition to noticing a growing trend among peers and customers toward meatless dining options.

“Vegetarians have been saying it for so long and I think its time we really listen. I’m actually making it my own personal challenge to cut out meat starting two days a week, working up to five days. I’ll still need my meat fix on the other two days! Meatless Mardi is our way of providing those who want to go meatless with a tasty, interesting alternative,” Alessandra said.

The menu is three vegetarian courses, which can be modified slightly for vegan folks, and costs $25 per person.  Guests can also opt for the accompanying wine flight – two ounces each for the first two courses and a one ounce dessert wine – for an additional $15.

First Course

Fennel Carpaccio with Fennel Seed and Lemon Marinated Carrots and Chickpea Crouton

First Course - Fennel Carpaccio

This course was flavourful and fresh, with the fennel, lemon, and drizzle of balsamic mingling nicely in our mouths.  We were a little upset that there wasn’t more of the amazing chickpea crouton (pictured on top), because it was perhaps the most delicious rendition of hummus we’ve ever tasted (and we’re self-proclaimed experts).

Second Course

House Made Open Ravioli with Artichokes and Tomato Pesto Coulis

Second Course - House Made Ravioli

This course was as flavourful as the first, and featured a sprinkling of vegan Daiya cheese (the vegetarian version has goat cheese).  It’s always a treat to get vegan house made pasta and this one was excellent.  We could taste the spinach flavour, which is often lost in other spinach based pastas.

Third Course

Pear Tart with Chocolate Soy Gelato

Third Course - Pear Tart

This generous dessert left our bellies full after our meal.  Alessandra managed to make a wonderful vegan pastry, which is quite a challenge for anyone, let alone someone new to vegan dessert making.  The soy gelato was equally delightful.

It’s always a treat to find new vegan dining options in Vancouver, and to see some of the finer restaurants in the city embracing the growing demand for meatless dining options.  The service was excellent and we were impressed by Alessandra’s eagerness to dive in and explore the world of vegetarian and vegan cooking.  Aside from the Meatless Mardi menu, both Provence locations offer many meatless dining options, such as their popular antipasti selections.

We’re excited to try some of the other menus they come up with in the coming Meatless Mardis, and at only $25 for three courses, there’s no excuse not to go back for more!

Thanks Alessandra and the team at Provence!

Provence Chef/Proprietor Alessandra Quaglia and The Vegan Project

~The Vegan Project

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This week, Granville Magazine Online asked The Vegan Project’s very own Jessica Grajczyk to write a vegan Thanksgiving themed article.  I tested the meal out on two carnivores a few days ago and they were more than pleased!  Check it out here: Thanksgiving without the turkey.

And now in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a few things I am most grateful for…

1) My beautiful cats – all four of them! They are healthy and happy and safe.

2) Jay, my loving boyfriend and new roommate (and also the fact that we have not killed each other yet…)

3) My besties since grade 8, Jen and Jessica, and partners on this amazing vegan journey.

4) My Mom, Aunts and Baba. My culinary experience began in the kitchen with them.

5) Vancouver, my hometown.  For being so beautiful and inching towards a greener image, making my plight easier.

6) The Vegan Project and all its supporters.  This community would not exist without you.

7) Animals.  I love them all and they continue to inspire me everyday.  They have purpose and spirit and there is so much that I learn from them.  I just watch the crows that return home to their wetlands from a day at the shore, together and on time everyday, to remind myself that everyone is experiencing this life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~The Vegan Project

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Born and raised in a small town in Sasktachewan, Janine grew up in a farming family and is no stranger to the production and processing of animals.  Her family farmed Herford cattle and pigs for several years and grew 90% off their own produce in their garden.  Anything store bought was considered a luxury for the years while they farmed.  She was involved in every process of farming from a very young age. From working the land to planting of crops such as grain and hay to feed the animals, to medicating and castration of the cattle, delivering calves, feeding the (sometimes very dangerous) pigs, and of course the slaughter of the animals.  Even at the tender age of 6, you can understand who it is that ended up in your casserole for dinner and how they got there.  Growing up, meat was not something you just eat – it is a way of life, your livelihood, what buys Christmas presents.  Being a vegan was something that was unheard of until Janine left her small town at age 17.  She knew she was destined for something greater than becoming a breeder herself, and left to go pursue her dreams in the great beyond and find a place to fit in.

After many years of traveling, exploring & growing she finally found her place in Vancouver.  A place where the folks from back home would describe as full of freaks, hippies, various racial slurs, and faggots – she knew she was home at last!  This was a place not only diverse in ethnicity, beliefs and lifestyles but also diverse in cuisine!  Having an adventurous palate, Janine was delighted to explore things like dim sum, pho, matar paneer, bi bim bap and so much more.

Now Vancouver is home for Janine and she spends her time with her talented and charming boyfriend Jesse, hanging out with her cute-as-ever dog Rambo, and working on her business, Fresh Out, which is a members only pop-up fashion sale.  This fashionable business woman now is ironically returning to her roots so to speak and is taking more and more of an interest in where her food comes from and how it was produced.  For so long she took her food from her childhood for granted – most people don’t have a freezer full of homegrown organic meat and vegetables.  Many cannot afford to buy organic and have to eat commercially produced and processed foods.  Being a big believer in ‘you are what you eat’ Janine has decided to get back to basics and have a healthier diet.  She and Jesse now have a small garden plot and buy organic whenever possible.  And now the ultimate challenge – the Vegan Project….

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Puttering through the kitchen looking for something to make for lunch so I don’t have to venture out on this dreary Vancouver afternoon…

Decided to cook some long grain brown rice.  Have some left over veggies and a can of artichokes to  throw on top.  Need a sauce….

This is what I came up with and it is SO GOOD!

1/2 cup cashews

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup water

4 cloves garlic

1 cup or more of fresh spinach

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (raw un-sulphered)

1 teaspoon raw vegan parm (found at karmavore, nutritional yeast would sub fine though)

Lots of cracked pepper

Generous pinch of sea salt

Blend until nice and creamy. Simple, delicious and raw!  I’m drizzling it on top of brown rice, canned artichokes, yellow pepper, cucumber and more chopped spinach. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for little extra Vitamin B1 or Thiamine, natural mood booster. Enjoy!

Love,

The Vegan Project

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Snoop has a special place in our hearts at The Vegan Project.  He was probably the very first hip hop artist, or artist in general that we really got into in our adolescent years.  My friend gave me his first CD, Doggystyle, as a birthday gift and I loved and played that CD so hard the plastic case practically disintegrated.

This is why, when Snoop miraculously made his way across the Canadian border again for his March 7th show at the Commodore (fav venue), Bridget and I did everything in our power to see him.  I ended up meeting ‘Tom the Ticket Guy’ outside the venue and paid him $160 cash for two tickets.

As predicted, once inside we were greeted with a haze of weed smoke billowing from a crowd of white boys doing the crip walk and girls in tight jeans, corsets and stripper heels.

A good four hours after the doors had opened, Snoop slithered onstage after a video montage of his oscar-worthy film appearances.  I’m not gonna lie, we were really excited to see him in all his skinny glory with his diamond encrusted microphone.

After he did several medleys of his greatest hits, with a few new tracks (which will never top his Doggystyle days) thrown in, we were fully satisfied with our mildly overpriced, intimate Snoop Doggy Dog experience.  But after inhaling all that smoke, we definitely had a case of the munchies.

What better way to end our night than with a gourmet veggie dog at our new fav hot dog place – Dougie Dog!  All of the specialty dogs on the menu can be made with veggie wieners.  Bridget had the Downward Dog – with tomato, onion, spinach and avocado (minus the feta cheese), and I had the Chicago Dog with mustard, onion, tomato, neon green relish, pickle, Chicago sport peppers, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.  YUM!  The dogs are all $6.95 and worth every penny.  The guy behind the counter even came out to explain the special ingredients in our dogs, just like a fine dining restaurant!  Dougie Dog also boasts ‘Vancouver’s largest selection of Root Beer’.

Old school Snoop Dog, and Dougie Dog, both highly recommended by The Vegan Project.

Dougie Dog –  1011 Granville Street, Vancouver

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It has been a long, hard, cheese-less September, and we survived!  we laughed, we cried, we lamented, and now we are delighted to share with you our Best of Vegan September list.

Best Vegan Restaurant Overall

Nuba – we love you for your vegan soup of the day, your Najib’s special, and your diversity (we can bring our non-vegan friends to dine on your organic, free range meat)

Best Samosas

Sweet Cherubim

Best Vegan Treat

Sweet Cherubim Chocolate Macaroon

Best Tastes Like Chicken

Campagnolo Crispy Ceci (or as Bridget calls them kentucky fried chickpeas) for having that addictive KFC flavour.

Best Soy Latte Deal

Continental Coffee – we challenge you to beat 160z for less than $4

Best Late Night Drunken Eats

Falafel Town (on Granville near Davie).  Close second Fritz veggie poutine (on Davie near Granville), don’t forget to bring your own vegan cheese.

Best Vegan Benny

Bandidas Taqueria (on Commercial near 12th)

Best Yet to Try Restaurant

3G on Cambie – our little vegan cousin Brooke swears by their vegan lobster

Bridget’s Best Vegan Moment

Turned down an audition for a McDonald’s commercial where she would have had to eat a Big Mac.

Jessica’s Best Vegan Moment

Resisting the temptation of 10 pizzas laid out on the counter at Jay’s house, including the BEST VEGGIE PIZZA IN VANCOUVER.  “Maybe I’ll just pick off the cheese.  That would be okay right?  I can call Martini’s to see if there’s dairy in the dough…”

Jen’s Best Vegan Moment

Dinner at Nuba since living in White Rock does not afford such luxurious vegan options.

Best Baba Moment

Baba: “So for dessert, we’ll have some vegan ice cream.  There’s no dairy in it”

Bridget: “Really?”

Baba:  “Yeah, I checked the label, there’s no milk.  Only yoghurt.”

Bridget:  “But Baba…”

Best Clueless Server Moment

Jessica:  “Can I get some non-dairy dip with my fries please?”

Server:  “Yeah it comes with garlic mayo.”

Jessica:  “Yeah but mayo is made with eggs.”

Server: “Right.”

Best Vegan Invention

Bridget’s ‘cream’ of cauliflower soup.

Big thanks to all our readers, supporters, and haters alike.  For those who do not know, we will be launching a website soon, featuring videos of our vegan exploits.  In the meantime we will continue to blog and tweet our little hearts out.

We’re taking bets on who you think will be the first of us to fall off the vegan train.  All fingers are pointing to Jessica and her well-known, torrid affair with cheese.  Throughout all of this we will continue to maintain a vegan kitchen.

Stay tuned for more exciting developments from the Vegan Project.

Love  Bridget, Jessica, and Jen

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it’s been a while since i’ve written, i know.  been pretty busy with the final touches of our website splash page and helping the boyfriend move.  contrary to my vegan counterparts, who have both felt that they’ve lost weight this past month, i feel that i’ve gained a couple pounds, or at least lost some muscle tone.  i attribute this to the lack of yoga in my schedule lately (no correlation, just sheer laziness) and a greater devotion to food and eating and consuming more than i normally do.  i have never had a huge connection to food and can often times take it, or leave it.  i’ve found that this month has brought more focus to what i ingest and i’ve had to be more mindful of my dietary requirements, thus consuming more calories (i think anyways. as jess mentioned, we don’t have a scale so this is all speculation).  i have pledged to myself to get back on the yoga train for october to nip this in the bud-though i’m sure the consensus among most would be that i could use a few extra pounds 😉  

ahh, now that that’s out of the way i wanted to share a bit of vegan wisdom that i have picked up along the way, the first being the title of this post…

1) blurring the meal lines-i struggled so much at first with the loss of eggs in the a.m. but never missed them any other time of day.  once i let go of the cultural aspects of dining, what to have and at what point in the day, a weight was lifted.  i began to have a protein, carb, and lotsa veggies whenever i sat down to eat and eventually breakfast transformed into simply the first meal of the day.  nothing more, and free of preconceived notions of what that meal should be.  samosas, soups and beans are some of my favourite morning nibbles now.

2)no cream – creamy-dairy has a an indescribable sumptuous texture, flavour and lasting memory.  how can a dairy loving vegan duplicate this blessed food group?  easy!  blend, blend, blend!  the food processor is a vegan’s third arm.  so many foods, once blended become ‘creamy’.  nuts, seeds, artichokes, avocado, a simple marinara put in the blender, tofu, just to name a few.

3) yay falafel!-i’d like to pay homage to that lovely little deep-fried chickpea nugget.  falafel is fantastic and has definitely contributed to my vegan success.  in fact, i’ve found middle eastern cuisine in general to be quite conducive to the vegan lifestyle.  try it and love it today 🙂

4) getting some help from supplements-now i don’t take pills, but i do lean on nutritional powder mixes, effervescent vitamin pouches and all natural electrolyte drinks for a boost in energy, vitamins minerals and essential nutrients.  some may poo-poo this and prefer to get all their essentials from food, and to them i raise my vitamin water and toast them and their efforts…i need a little help from my friends 😉

5) stay cool-what i mean by this is just that.  i have been blessed with incredible support from friends, co-workers and strangers and been able to engage in exciting and thought-provoking discussions regarding vegan food, the vegan lifestyle, animal rights and ethics.  i have also been met with ignorant f**** that for some reason or another take my eating choices personally and have an inability or  blatant disregard to examine where their food comes from, or at the very least, understand the vegan side of the fence.  i’ve remained cool, remembering to pick my battles.  i suspect that  as we become more aware as a society of the negative effects of the meat industry on the environment and our bodies, that some of them may have a change of heart.  and maybe one day they will look at a farm animal as an equal with it’s own intrinsic rights and not an object to be utilized.  i give credit of that last sentence to my cousin brooke, innately vegan, defending animal rights every day with a vengeance! xo

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