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This is a standard muffin recipe that I like to play around with a lot.  I had no sugar in the house but did have two large squeeze bottles of agave from Costco (which by the way is the best deal in town for the stuff-2 x 480 ml bottles for $9!). These muffins are filled with sweet lemon flavour with bursts of tangy berries in every bite while hearty spelt flour gives them weight and packs them full of fibre.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 cup of berries (i used a frozen blend of blueberries, raspberries and marionberries)

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 F

Mix together all dry ingredients plus the lemon zest in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix together non-dairy milk, lemon juice, agave, oil and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just to blend.  Add the berries and then spoon into a lightly greased muffin tin and bake for 22-25 minutes, depending on size of muffins.

Makes 6 extra large or 10 regular sized muffins.

~The Vegan Project

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The Vegan Project’s newest contributor, Jenny Duffy, discusses the cost of being vegan…

I am Cheap

I am an accountant and I like to pinch pennies. I am the person at the table calculating the exact tip. I know precisely where every dollar of my paycheque goes. I have an excel spreadsheet which tracks my spending and calculates my excess cashflow and ending bank balance on a daily basis. In the words of Snoop Dog, I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.

My current weekly budget for food (pet and human), toiletries, gas, and entertainment is $240. So when I began to eat vegan, I could hear my wallet shriek in terror in anticipation of the beating it was about to receive.

Fatties Eat Cheap

Our society rewards unhealthy eating with ridiculously low prices. Starving? Got some pocket shrapnel? Go to McDonald’s for their Dollar Menu. Or try Burger King’s Value Menu. Both restaurants feature bargain basement prices for the factory killing floor food.

If you are eating in a restaurant and ask for the chicken or meat to be removed from a salad or pasta, you still have to pay full price. If you go to a fast food chain, the healthier menu items are about 400% higher in price, as a salad will run you at least $4.50, while a hamburger will cost just over a dollar. Bend over healthy eaters; Ronald is gonna work you over every time you pull up to the drive thru.

Eat in, Save Your Money!

If you eat at home and make your own food, your bankroll gets somewhat of a reprieve as store-bought food made with love is always cheaper than restaurant food. Why? That Cactus Club/Earls/Moxies/Joeys is sitting on prime real estate, and those space-aged toilets and 20 foot mirrors in the nightclub-slash-bathroom don’t come cheap. More importantly, they need to pay the 15 scantily clad hostesses at the front a decent living wage.

I’ll say it again: making your own food saves money.

All Grocers Are Not The Same

Of course, it depends on where you shop. If you are a Fancy Pants McGee and you shop at Urban Fare/Choices/Generic Overpriced Yuppie Food Retailer you can bend over again, for you are getting screwed. Organic apples don’t cost $4.99 a pound. The store is located in an area with excessive rent/lease costs, so these costs are built into the prices. Yaletown apples cost more than East Vancouver apples. And chances are they were grown within the same region, possibly by the same producers.

If you opt for a small Chinese/Korean/Japanese grocery store that stocks local organic produce grown in the Fraser Valley, or you shop in Superstore’s Organic Section, then you can save a lot of money. Local organic produce is a godsend that we as Vancouverites are uniquely blessed with.

In between these two extremes lie a wide range of shops that cater to vegetarians, vegans, organics (people who eat only organic. There was no term for this so I coined one. Yep, I’m that guy.) and other counter culture food-hipsters.

In the Boardroom

Ethical consumers represent a relatively untapped niche to corporate douche bags everywhere.  The vegan food market is relatively new when compared to the mature processed non-vegan food industry. If vegan eating follows the same arc as organic eating, there is a lot of money to be made by producing vegan food.

Vegans are a captive market because we have to seek out places that stock specialty items like tempeh or Daiya cheddar replacement. Additionally, we are willing to pay a higher price for these products because there aren’t many alternatives. There is no No-Name vegan beer sausage. If we find a producer that makes a product we like, we generally stick with it because there isn’t much competition.

I have a dream

I have a dream.  I dream of a time when vegan and vegetarian foods are popular enough that they are at the same price point as crap food. $0.99 for a bag of gourmet organic vegan popcorn? I hope I live to see the day.

Until that day comes, I’ve got to do some leg work and find places close to home that stock vegan products…

*Courtesy of Jenny Duffy

~The Vegan Project

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There are a couple of amazing events happening in Vancouver this weekend.

Saturday, September 25th – Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals 2010 from 1pm to 3pm beginning at the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown.  Donate to the Karmavore Vegan Shop’s team here.

A video from Vancouver’s Walk for Farm Animals 2009:

For more information on Farm Sanctuary, visit their website.

Sunday, September 26th – Gimme Shelter – Everyday Choices with Gene Baur, Eleanor Boyle, Rex Weyler at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre at 181 Roundhouse Muse (Davie & Pacific), Vancouver.

Everyday we make choices that affect our health, environment and the animals we raise for food.  Sustainability, compassion, factory farming, free range, and organic are just some of the topics that will be discussed. Learn how to make a difference for a healthier lifestyle and make more informed choices about what you’re eating and how you view your food.

Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary, Eleanor Boyle on Sustainable Food, Attainable Health, and Rex Weyler of Greenpeace will be speaking.

Canapes and wine will be served, and there will be live musical performances by local artists Fera Group and Evan Kennedy.

Let’s bring our community together to create a stronger force for our future and our planet. Together we can make a difference!

100% of proceeds are being donated to Farm Sanctuary and Liberation, BC.  LIMITED SEATING, get your tickets today here.

See you there!

~The Vegan Project

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Let me start off by saying that while this review may not be glowing, it will not slam, nor be unkind.  I will describe my experience at Cafe Deux Soleils as unbiasedly as I can, and of course with a sense of humour.

After doing a 6am Bikram’s Yoga class this morning I strolled down The Drive, marveling at how little is open at 8 in the morning.  This didn’t matter, though, because I was headed to Cafe Deux Soleils (which I knew would be open) for their tasty tofu scramble I’d enjoyed several times before.

I arrived at their door at 8:19 to a sign that read “Not open till 8:30, Sorry”.  I peeked in and noticed a couple of employees behind the counter doing their thing, so I opened my book and waited.  At 8:27am I put my face up to the glass door and caught the eye of one of the staff.  She looked at her phone, then back at me, shrugged and mouthed, ‘Sorry’.  Yes, I rolled my eyes at this, but if they must be sticklers then they must.

Two minutes later, the same employee opened the door for me, without even making eye contact, while shoving the large stone door stop across the floor with her foot and slamming it into the door.  I went right up to the counter, ready to order with my money out.  The cook then had to alert the other staff member (that just let me in) of my presence.

Listen, I thought, I hate your job, too, and don’t work early mornings for this very reason!  You work in the SERVICE industry.  You are not allowed to be cranky!  Just because  you work on Commercial Drive, where there is a general complacency toward good service (other guilty establishments shall remain nameless for now) does not give you the right to be miserable in my presence.  I’m sorry if my eagerness to spend money at your business bothers you, but slap on a smile and do your job!

I then proceeded to ask if they put butter on the toast.  She informed me that no, it’s margarine.  I ask if it’s vegan, she doesn’t know, but thinks so.

Sigh.

I asked if she could check the container or ask the cook.  Perfect – it’s vegan.  I drop a lonely loonie into her tip jar and take a seat.  The meal comes rather quickly and is plunked down on my table.  I did not take a picture because it honestly wasn’t much to look at, but, as usual, it was tasty (aside from the short black hair in the hash browns, which I removed and turned a blind eye to, after deciding not to deal with that one).

I finished up, grabbed my things and departed with a faint ‘have a nice day” from the cook.

I’m not recommending that you don’t go to this restaurant. In fact, I’ll probably go back for their tofu scramble and the neat spoken word events they often hold.  Just take this as a warning to beware of the surly counter staff in the mornings 😉

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Bandidas Taqueria has been a favourite of The Vegan Project for a while now, so we figured it was time to let you guys in on one of the best places in Vancouver to find a hearty vegan brunch.

Located near the corner of Commercial Drive and 12th in Vancouver, Bandidas is a quaint little Mexican restaurant that serves tacos (on yummy house made corn tortillas), burritos, tortilla soup, and delicious brunch items including bennies served on corn muffins.

One of the other rad things about Bandidas aside from their numerous vegan brunch, lunch, and dinner options (they have non-vegan stuff, too), is the fact that they’re licensed, so naturally we ordered mimosas with our brunches.

Bridget chose the Breakfast Burrito (the vegan option has butternut squash and tofu instead of eggs) for $7, adding guacamole for $1.  The burrito is HUGE (see pic) and stuffed with pinto beans, fresh salsa, Daiya cheese, and their house made vegan sour cream, so she opted not to add the side of hash and cabbage salad (they added the veggie bacon by mistake).

Bandidas Breakfast Burrito

Jessica ordered Alan’s Breakfast, $11, and added some veggie breakfast sausage for $2, and opted for the butternut squash/tofu combo instead of eggs on top.  It’s basically a Mexican salad served with two corn tortillas for stuffing at your leisure. It was delicious but quite a lot of food, so ordering that side of potatoes was not the best idea.

Bandidas Alan's Breakfast with Veggie Sausage

Aside from a few service hiccups (forgetting guacamole and adding extra veg bacon) we were extremely satisfied with our brunch at Bandidas and will continue to recommend it to our fellow vegan (and non-vegan) brunch connoisseurs.

Another thing we like about Bandidas is their commitment to sustainability.  They only offer local beer and wine, use compostable to-go packaging, and are completely car-free, meaning that they use bikes and a cargo trailer to transport supplies.  We also noticed a sign on their door saying that the staff would soon be taking a 90% bike powered trip together.  Neat!

Bandidas Taqueria

2781 Commercial Drive

Vancouver

Brunch daily til 3pm

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today i think i experienced my first real non-vegan temptation since starting this challenge.  when you don’t surround yourself with dairy products it’s easy to forget about them.

i was at a barbecue and seemed to be doing fine with my veggie burger while everyone else was eating their hot dogs and hamburgers, although i felt a slight pang for some melted cheese.  someone even brought some veggie sushi and tofu, which was great!  and of course good ol nacho chips, guacamole, and salsa are vegan (and my personal ‘junk food’ fav)!

i was surprised to learn that a couple of people at the barbecue had also recently decided to try a meat free diet, one had even tried veganism after reading the book ‘Skinny Bitch’.  i keep hearing about this book, but haven’t read it yet.

then… the desserts came out.  Dairy Queen ice cream cake (the devil), chocolate chips cookies, mini cupcakes, berry tarts, those one-bite brownies… not a single sweet treat i could have:(  need to get me some good vegan chocolate for these occasions. or get bridget to make some of her fabulous vegan pistachio rose water cookies…jessica

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so, the day was off to a great start as some of you may have read on our twitter this morn.  strolled down to The drive organics (this is a plug cause it’s where we get most of our groceries and my cousin works there, and they rock!) and picked up some vitasoy and ingredients for tomato rosemary scones.  scarfed four down and then hopped on my bike for a day of painting and errand running.  though i did not pack a lunch, i was fortunate enough to find several vegan options along the way.  we happen to live in a very vegan-friendly city!  met the boyfriend for lunch at Nuba on hastings and cambie.  had a bowl of the daily vegan soup, and a salad, and ordered jay (the boyfriend) a garden falafel (jay is not a vegan but he is having a cholesterol-free september due to a heavy beef injection during a recent stint in alberta)  tada!

stumbled across the wednesday farmer’s market at the train station for some snacks along the way…

finished the day of with a bowl of budgie burrito’s tortilla soup (also within minutes of my studio)…i love this city!

lots of love to all the non-humans out there…bridget xo

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