El Segundo and The Bakery, Sechelt - Vegan Options

We decided to take a little jaunt after Christmas, up the Sunshine Coast to Powell River, over to Comox, down to Victoria and then back home. We left Aldergrove at 5:30 am on Monday morning because there were no reservations available on the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale ferry and we wanted to get onto the 7:30 sailing. We did so but only after driving through torrential rain on the North Shore and the associated pooling water. 

First stop after Langdale was Gibson's Landing. I grew up watching The Beachcombers but this was the first time I have ever stood in front of Molly's Reach (only buzzed through Gibsons a couple of times in the past).
We took a little walk on the pier (almost  entirely by ourselves at 9ish on Boxing Day). This fellow was surprisingly unimpressed with us.
We got to Sechelt a little faster than we expected but our host at the Driftwood Inn was happy to check us in even though it was only 10:30ish. I think we might have been the only guests! The motel was right on the beach and was clean and comfortable despite the very noisy heating unit ( turned it off in the middle of the night).
After a little walk on the beach and under some if not a lot of blue sky, we started to think about something to eat. Surprisingly, I had 4 places on my list in Sechelt that had respectable vegan options (plus a couple of bakeries) but only one was open on Boxing Day!
So we ended up at El Segundo, a sort of fusion Mexican place. It was busy at just after noon but we were able to get a table for 2 right away.
We started with Brocco Tacos and a Kale Caesars Salad. The tacos were surprising! The broccoli must have been dusted with rice flour or cornstarch and deep fried as they were nicely crispy. Complete with corn, cabbage , some lettuce and sauce, we realized later that we could have used some hot sauce on these dishes but these were very good tacos!. The Caesar Salad was tasty also.
Next up was a Yam and Black Bean Burrito. Complete with dirty rice, vegan chipotle mayo, guac, salsa, cabbage and herbs, this burrito was a tasty meal all by itself. We chose truffle tots as a side which came with vegan cheese and a vegan garlic aioli! Really tasty and no one got carried away with the truffle!
El Segundo is a nicely festive place and the staff are friendly and helpful. We pretty well exhausted the vegan choices other than a couple of other starters and soups. Still, they were there for us when the other vegan forward places were closed.
Food                          4 out of 5
Vegan choices           3 out of 5
Comfort                     4 out of 5
Service                      4 out of 5
Value                         4 out of 5

Early Tuesday morning, I was out on my walk and surprised to see that The Bakery was already open and folks were inside getting their coffee and pastries.
I don't usually eat early in the morning but I was curious to see what they offered and sure enough, there were a few vegan items in their bakery case!
I sat down to try an Oatmeal and something Cookie (sorry) that was full of coconut, dates and some dried fruit and nuts. Very good! And excellent coffee as well! My intention was to bring some home for Mharie to try but next thing I knew, I had eaten the whole thing.
So I got her a vegan Chocolate Oatmeal Bar which was ridiculously rich and could keep you alive for days if you were lost in the woods!
Sorry to not have a better interior photo to post. I thought I had taken one that showed the whole room. A beautiful and warm little place to have coffee, and open at 6:30 every morning. They also have vegan lunchtime choices like wraps and daily soups. Friendly folks too! 
Food                              4 out of 5
Vegan choices               4 out of 5
Comfort                         4 out of 5
Service                          4 out of 5
Value                             4 out of 5

Kozak Homemade Ukranian Food - Vegan Options

Some cuisines lend themselves more to being veganized than others. Ukrainian food (at least the North American version) has its bones in plants and it is easy enough to use all plants to get the complete authentic experience. Kozak has been on my list to try since long before I went plant-based and I'm wondering what took us so long to finally get here!

Located on 6th Street near 5th Avenue in New West, this is one of 3 Kozak restaurants in Metro Vancouver. Sorry for the fuzzy picture! I usually take like 400 photos so that I have at least one that is good but this? We arrived at 1ish and were able to find a place to sit. This is more of a deli / take-out place but there are a few window seats and a table along one wall ( seating for 7 or 8 altogether?).
How can you not start a Ukrainian meal without borscht? And a wonderful fairly dense piece of rye bread? You can't. A little side dish had a couple of slices of raw garlic in salt. We did our best to rub the garlic on the bread and enjoyed it with the rich and chunky soup. Very good!
Next up were the Latkes (potato pancakes) with mushrooms. These arrived hot and crispy, They were a little bit on the greasy side but I would be disappointed if they weren't. Served with a horseradish sauce which I assume contained beet in some form. This was also delicious!
We ordered 3 Holobsti (cabbage rolls) and 2 Varyneki (pierogi). The cabbage rolls were excellent and came with a mushroom filling, with rice, cabbage, onions and carrots. The tomato sauce was also very good and rich. We ordered the pierogi fried and filled with potato and dill. My late brother-in-law used to make the best pierogi in the world so it is hard for me to compare but these were quite good.
Lastly, we tried 3 Sour Cherry Filled Pierogi and called it dessert! I love cherries so this was a light and tasty finish to our meal. The dough was excellent which is always the clincher with pierogi!
I think that we worked most of our way through the vegan options on their menu. There are still many bakery items to explore! We were well looked after even though this is not really a full-service restaurant and the staff were helpful on the vegan details. I feel like a lot of their customers are regulars that have found their place! 
Food                        4 out of 5
Vegan options         4 out of 5
Comfort                   4 out of 5
Service                    4 out of 5
Value                       4 out of 5

CC's Donuts and Robyn's Cookies - Vegan Treats

Tempting you with this post about these treats a week before Christmas is possibly not helpful as it is a little last minute for your planning. Still, I would suggest that after you read this, you throw caution to the winds and immediately place an order at CC's Donuts and I'll bet something good happens. While that is true for CC's Donuts, I'm just not sure about the availability of Robyn's Special Holiday Cookies. It may be that the window of opportunity for this holiday has passed.

We're getting pretty used to ordering specialty foods from commissary kitchens and even private kitchens but while I like to start my posts with a location photo I'm not going to post a picture of a private residence. Here is the box top from our order. I will try to carefully peel these stickers to add to my lap top which is now certified fully vegan!
First of all, the donuts! These are baked donuts that are generously coated with cinnamon sugar. They are cakey but lite. I love that the cinnamon sugar has some texture. They are perfect for tearing apart or messy biting where you get sugar all over your face. I never had this kind of donut as a kid but somehow they are reminiscent of something from my childhood. Wonderful! Keep up with availability on Instagram at donutsbycc.
And now the cookies! They describe them as sparkly & sugary, super soft & very yummy molasses ginger holiday cookies. I couldn't say it better myself although I would like to point out that they should not just be for the holidays! I have no specific website to direct you to although in this case they were available in a collaboration with Donuts by CC. Lets hope that is the case in the future as well as these were amazing cookies and I want them to be a part of my life.
Just one final note and that is that CC's donuts are often available at Moodswing Coffee on Front Street in New West. Moodswing seems to have some other vegan items  on their menu and has made it to my list!
Food                        5 out of 5
Vegan Options        5 out of 5 
Comfort                   NA
Service                    5 out of 5 (they were ready on time!)
Value                       5 out of 5 (4 donuts and 6 cookies for $20)

Nafas Kitchen Ltd. - Vegan Mediterranean

Hey! We've been here before! We placed our order online, paid, got our pick-up time and entered the address into our navigation.  Before you knew it we were at 1205 East Hastings, the commissary kitchen where we had picked up from Vankoshary several months ago.

This time we were picking up from Nafas Kitchen Ltd which prepares vegan cuisine of the Mediterranean variety!
We started with a couple of classic Mediterranean dips, such as this Muhamara. This is a rich and substantial puree of red bell pepper, walnut and pomegranate. Delicious!
We are big fans of Baba Ganouj and this was a very good version. It was nicely chunky and a little smokey. This is a light and healthy dip that can make you feel a little less guilty at snack time!
We ordered a couple of wraps. This was the Falafel Wrap. Pretty tasty falafel. I found it crumbly but it worked well and this was actually Mharie's favourite. The pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and tahini made it a tasty meal all by itself.
Next was a Mushroom Shawarma Wrap. The mushrooms work so well in this typically meat-filled wrap. The oyster mushrooms are cooked with shawarma spices and they play really well together. With garlic paste, pomegranate molasses, and all the veggies again, this is another nice meal all by itself. My only criticism is that the photos on the website show grill marks and I was all excited about that. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering why I didn't just grill it at home.
Masakhan Bowl
Finally, we ordered the Masakhan Bowl. I could have done better in moving everything from the delivery container to our plate but you get the idea. This seemed like a lot of food for just over $11 and it was very enjoyable. We're eating a lot of soy curls these days and these were flavoured subtly with cumin, cinnamon, garlic and pomegranate molasses. One of the highlights for me was the garlic sauce (I've seen it called tuom), of which there was a container on the side. It is a powerful garlic addition and requires some self-control.
Altogether, we were very happy with our food from Nafas Kitchen. We paid $60 altogether including taxes and tips and we got 2 solid meals for 2. We were disappointed that some things on the menu were not available but there is that whole supply chain thing going on and at least we knew in advance. We met Nafa briefly (she might just be a one-woman show at the moment) when we picked up our order and she is clearly anxious that people enjoy her food. We think that they will!
Food                    4 out of 5
Vegan options      5 out of 5
Comfort               Not applicable 
Service                5 out of 5 (right on time but not prepared in advance and sitting)
Value                   4 out of 5

Vegan Fried Chick'un - Fraser Street

As you may have noticed, our eats policy is that not every vegan meal has to be super healthy although many are. Many vegans like a lot of the same things that omnivores do but are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the planet or animal rights or whatever other reason led them down the plant based path. I didn't give up fried chicken because I didn't like it, so if someone is making it without all the harm, I am down to give it a try!

Located on Fraser street near East 43rd (sorry for the fuzzy photo. Not sure what happened there) we showed up at 1ish on Saturday and sat at one of 3 tables (like a lot places, much of their business tends to be take out these days.). Also, like a lot of places, they seem to be short of this and that so our menu choices were slightly (but not critically) limited.
We decided to start with their Classic Poutine. I bitch, any chance I get, about poutine being called "Canada's National Dish" but on a vegan menu, its a little less offensive! This was not bad! Mharie liked the fries as they had some crispiness going on and the gravy was good too! The cheese needed to be a little meltier and I'm not sure what the solution is to that problem. Some  vegan cheeses don't melt well. We tested some leftover in the microwave oven at home and this cheese melted very well but the microwave destroyed the fries of course. Should they have a broiler to run this under for a few seconds?
Next up was the Buffalo Jalapeno Crispy Chick'un Sandwich. Again, you can see from the photo that un melty cheese is a problem. And again I ask, might a broiler be the answer? Or even a toaster oven? I was alarmed that this arrived looking not very Buffalo but I was wrong about that! It was plenty spicy! With some pickles (ordered extra) and the jalapenos, it turned out to be a pretty good sandwich! The bun and the chick'un were both quite good! Nicely done! Just try to work on the melting cheese thing!
Another interesting thing that we ordered was Pol's Original Pulled Chick'un Sandwich. Described as a cold Filipino style soy free chick'un salad sandwich. I'm not sure who Pol is, what makes it Filipino style or what the chick'un is made of but it is a really good sandwich! Creamy with vegan mayo and a little crunchy lettuce, this is another nice one, you guys!
We also tried the Butter Chick'un Crispy Wrap. This was tasty enough and even a littler spicy but we have had more buttery vegan butter chick'un. Still a pretty good wrap with a little crispy and a little spicy!
Finally, we had a Strawberry Oatmilk Shake. Really, this was more of a smoothie but that was OK with us. A few frozen strawberries and some nice body made this thick and rich!
We're pretty sure that Vegan Chick'un is connected to Tera V Burger on West 4th (?). They have some menu items in common as well as they share lack of a bathroom for customers. As we ran across the road to Dairy Queen, we remembered running up the road to Starbucks from Tera V. Not great, but what are you going to do? The staff here were friendly enough although product knowledge was questionable. They were good enough to deliver our food to our table which we didn't expect. Not a bad place if you're a vegan craving fried chick'un! BTW, our order came to $60 +/- (including tax/tips) but we ordered way too much and had leftovers for another full meal!
Food                         3 1/2 out of 5
Vegan Options          5 out of 5
Comfort                     3 1/2 out of 5
Service                      3 1/2 out of 5
Value                         4 out of 5

Bandra Cafe - Vegan Options

There are enough menu items marked vegan at Bandra Cafe that people who don't want to eat animals or animal products can dine in without being content with french fries or salad! A lot of Indian food is vegetarian but omitting butter and cheese ( to make things vegan) is not as easy as one might assume. It takes an effort to make Indian food vegan! So we finally made it to Bandra and enjoyed the owner's friendliness and the whimsical decor of this casual eatery.

Located at the west end of Strawberry Hills Shopping Centre (Scott Road and 72nd Ave., Surrey), we arrived Saturday at 1ish and were able to get a table right away. It was not long before the owner (or one of the partners) checked on us to make sure we were being looked after (which we were). He told us a little about Bandra (at our prompting), a part of greater Mumbai and where this project originated.
We started with Elco Pani Puri. We have had this Indian treat before but this is the Bandra street food version. It's sort of a fun dish as you first crack the top of the pastry balls and then add filling and sauce. A little bit spicy or a little bit sweet and a little messy, depending on how you assemble it, this is a light tasty way to start a meal.
Next up was Khanda Bhajiya which was the second dish to come on this little cart that I photographed so poorly. It does show again, some whimsey in that a dish would have been fine but if you can use something with wheels, why not? These were crispy and substantial considering they are basically vegetable fritters. They came with a nice chutney and some sweet tamarind sauce. Very nice!
The Salt and Pepper Wings are made from soya chaap which is ridiculously like chicken. The texture and tear-apart quality made us question whether we were being bad vegans! Hot, crispy and salty is what we had hoped for and what was served! After lunch, we went next door to the Chula Freshco and got soya chaap, which surprisingly comes in a can in brine, as it warrants further exploration.
I think that this is Dal Khichdi (our menu with the vegan items marked is different in the restaurant than the online version). It was similar to the curried lentils that I practically live on at home from day to day but with some serious upgrading. Served with papadam, some fried onions and coriander, it was a warming and satisfying dish.
Some wall art, old photographs as well as tables set up for chess and other games, make this a place you might want to hang around. They have a pretty impressive coffee and baked goods menu as well. This is certainly one of our new favourite places for plant-based eats!
Food                      4 1/2 out of 5
Vegan options       4 1/2 out of 5
Comfort                 4 1/2 out of 5
Service                  4 1/2 out of 5
Value                     4 1/2 out of 5

Vegetarian or Vegan? Some Random Thoughts

I watched a YouTube video about I can't remember what vegan topic (possibly of the athletic variety) and I was struck by the fact that almost all of the experts interviewed referred to how long they had been vegan and in most cases, how long they had been vegetarian before that. Most started as vegetarians and later became vegan. What is that about?

It makes sense that many people become vegetarians because they object to killing animals. Of course, many had become vegetarian for their health, their pocketbook, or the planet as well (the most significant thing that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to become vegetarian or better, vegan), but often it is the killing of animals that is the great motivation. Paul McCartney said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. Or maybe if we had to kill our own dinner, we would move along from eating animals.

Gradually people realize that vegetarianism is just a first step. As I learned more and more about factory farming which produces more than 95% of our dairy and eggs, I realized that I could not support it anymore. The cruelty in those places is in many cases but not all, shocking and disgusting. I realized that no animals should have to suffer and die so that I could eat my grilled cheese sandwiches. So I am forgoing my beloved Taleggio and Manchego so that cows don't have to be made pregnant just so they will produce milk. I am not eating any more fried eggs so that no chickens have to spend their lives in cages and then be ground up into mink feed when they are past their egg-laying prime (No kidding. My first chicken-catching job as a teenager, involved old hens, an industrial grinder and a dumpster). You can certainly learn the details yourself and have no need to accept my dronings on. Look for Earthling Ed on YouTube to start with. Of course, there are farmers who care very much for their animals, but in the end, they kill them long before their natural lives would normally end. They have to do this to make the economics work!

In another direction, the number of vegans is slowly climbing year by year (you can add me in 2022 for example!). We are still not enough to be held responsible for the environmental damage caused in the name of avocados and almonds. Amazingly, many non-vegan people (more than 90% of the population) eat these things! If anything, vegans, who are typically more environmentally conscious than most, are more likely to avoid them ( Personally, I prefer oat milk to almond!). Piers Morgan, a well-known anti-vegan, is an idiot about this. But I digress...

I would like to make a fuss about restaurant menus for a moment. I see that more and more restaurants are including and identifying vegan items on their menus, which is great. I love that! My list of places to visit and blog about grows longer every day! However, consider that less than 1 % of the world's population has celiac disease and another half to 1% have gluten intolerance. Meanwhile, a minimum of 6% of all people are lactose intolerant and in some populations such as South East Asians, it is close to 100%. About 5% of the world's population is vegan but the number is growing. Yet, what dietary restriction gets the most attention on restaurant menus? It is certainly the gluten-free thing. This is not because we are so considerate of people with Celiac disease (although we certainly should be) but because such a large percentage of people think that a gluten-free diet is good for them and will help them lose weight. It certainly is not good for them! Ask your doctor! We are so stupid for fad diets when we think they will help us look like movie stars! Restaurants, pay attention here! Emphasize your vegan options for the sake of the planet and the world in which your children and grandchildren will have to live! Don't be swayed by pseudo-scientific fad diets.

Another menu problem I see is that many places don't seem to understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian. Vegans do not consume any animal products including dairy and eggs, while vegetarians often will eat these things. Menus can get very confusing. A Chinese restaurant may label a noodle dish with no meat as vegetarian but it may actually be vegan! Rest assured that vegetarians will not avoid a vegan dish but vegans will avoid a vegetarian dish! Besides, most vegetarians are thinking about becoming vegan, aren't they? In reality, making vegetarian choices is a good start...but its just a start!

Restaurants need to recognize that veganism will continue to be a more and more important part of their business. By the way, the best thing that you, as an individual, can do for the environment and to mitigate climate change is to eat more plants and fewer animal products. I know, I know! I already mentioned that, but it is important! It stands to reason that this would include restaurant owners and what they chose to serve! In the foodie community (I am specifically talking about bloggers now), I don't see much of a shift away from meat (and frankly, it took me a long time but now I am all self-righteous AF about it!) and certain kinds of cuisine are more meat-centric than others (and I don't just mean steak houses). Again, give some thought to the kind of world your children and grandchildren will have to live in! Have you noticed how fucked up the weather is? Scroll forward 20 years and imagine what we are looking at! 

I know that I kind of swerved all over the place about this but my point is: Try to move to a more plant-based and cruelty-free life and you food bloggers and restauranteurs, do the same because you have some influence! Check out YouTubes Vegan Twosome (of metro Vancouver)  if you need an example of how it can be fun and fulfilling it can be!! I hope your consciences move you to do at least a little (to start with)!

Vegetarian good

Vegan better!

About Us

Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...