Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with the help of friends throughout the internet world, has posted The PPK 100 over on the PPK blog this week. Get on over there and check it out! I haven’t blogged here in over a year but that post really exemplifies why I had started this blog in the first place. Someone doing something positive to promote veganism. And even beyond that, Isa is promoting 99 other people/blogs/bakeries/businesses that were out and about in 2012 spreading the good word Vegan in the best way possible. In an age of increasing use of social media as a way of promoting oneself what a nice reprieve to see someone celebrating contributions from all over.
Every year’s Vegan MoFo alerts me to a number of new/established blogs I immediately become obsessed with, but I think this year’s was extra-special. You might know that one half (if you don’t count Buhbah) of us VOTMers is Canadian, and I am particularly fond of French Canada since I spent thirteen years in French Immersion. Tragically, my French isn’t anywhere near it should be, but after visiting my little sister, who is a resident of Montréal, and applying for a couple of jobs in the city that gave rise to Leonard Cohen, I’m pretty stoked on Montréal, and French.
The author of Vegan à Montréal, Babette, is a native Quebecer whose French language blog is full of vegan recipe reviews, vegan food, guides to the vegan goodness to be found in Montréal, and much more. Luckily for us, Babette is also fluent in English, and graciously answered some questions about her blog and vegan life in French Canada.
VOTM: When and why did you start your blog?
Babette: I started my blog two years ago, in October of 2009. I had been reading vegan blogs for a couple of years, and these blogs were mostly written by Americans and other English-speaking people. There were very few vegan blogs from Montreal and elsewhere in Québec, and most of them were in English. I thought I could create a French blog that could be used as a reference for aspiring vegans who speak French. It sometimes can be a hassle, when it is at all possible, to look up information in English, and I feel this might discourage people who want to embrace veganism. I didn’t want to publish a blog without pictures, so as soon as I got a digital camera, I started Vegan à Montréal. At first, it was really mostly to help people know veganism, but as time passed, I came to enjoy writing my blog more and more. Sometimes I even feel like I am a little obsessed with it.
VOTM: What is it like being a vegan in Montreal? How has the vegan scene evolved?
Montreal is great for vegans. Since 1997, we have an all-vegan restaurant called Aux Vivres, and a couple of other vegan restaurants have opened since then. Unfortunately, most of them are located downtown or in the Plateau (Montreal’s trendy neighbourhood)… I wish they were spread all over the city, or just around the corner of my house, but hey, I am not going to complain! We also have a lot of vegetarian places, and they all offer vegan options. Other than that, there are standard restaurants that offer decent vegan options, but there are also places where you have to settle for a green salad or pasta with tomato sauce. Nothing’s perfect.
And I have to mention the opening of Viva Vegan a couple of years ago. This online store carries all sorts of vegan goodies (pizzas, cheeses, candies, beauty products, marshmallows, etc.), and last winter, they opened a physical store in the city. How cool is that! They even have a selection of baked goods like vegan croissants, vegan cupcakes, vegan baklavas, etc. The vegan scene has been evolving in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Montrealers.
VOTM: Since your blog is written in French, where do the majority of your readers come from? Have you made any connections through the French-speaking blogging world?
Most of my readers come from Quebec. But there are also French readers in other parts of the country, as well as readers from France. A few people also told me they read my blog to practice their French. Many people have started their own vegan or vegetarian blog since I started mine, and I hope it sets a trend. I wish there were so many vegan blogs in French that it’d be hard to keep track of them.
VOTM: Why are you vegan? Are you involved in any vegan outreach activities (other than the blog, of course)?
I’m vegan for the ethical reasons—the environment, the animals, etc. I remember when I was 17, I thought being vegan could absolutely not be healthy, even though I had been vegetarian for a couple of years and was open to new information. That’s when I got a computer and Internet access—well, that was more than 10 years ago! I started posting in a vegetarian forum, and there was some guy there who had just turned vegan and he pointed to websites where people could learn the reasons behind veganism. I read about factory farming and learned, among other things, that the hens and cows who produced the eggs and milk I was consuming were not ethically treated, and were eventually killed and transformed into meat. Most importantly, I saw how veganism was totally healthy, and this just confirmed that I had to be vegan, that there was nothing crazy about it. Less than one or two weeks later, I was vegan, and I never turned back. Veganism defines who I am and it really became an integral part of my identity.
As for activism, I go to protests a couple of times a year and I also do outreach activities with animal rights organizations.
VOTM: What is your favourite vegan restaurant option in Montreal?
I would have to say Aux Vivres—they make killer sandwiches like the BLT. Their brunches are wonderful. So are their desserts. I love it! I’m also a big fan of La Panthère verte, an all vegan sandwich joint. I really like their tempeh sandwich and they also sell homemade vegan kefir. And Viva Vegan sells great sandwiches, grilled-cheeze sandwiches, pizza rolls and wonderful pastries. I can’t go there without sampling something.
Thank you so much, Babette!
And with that, happy holidays and thank you for reading our wee blog. We look forward to bring you some exciting content in 2012. 2011 was an amazing year for veganism, and it can only get better. We want to remind you guys that we are dying to hear about your small- or large-scale vegan advocacy/projects where you live! Please email us at email@example.com so we can feature you and inspire vegans everywhere.
As the end of the year approaches and holidays abound it is never too late to send your friends a little something to say you are thinking of them. A little something vegan, possibly handmade. I present a list of things I would enjoy should Sinterklass stuff them in a shoe for me.
The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. Two lovely people wrote a damn fine cookbook. The pumpkin ice cream is the best. And you can’t go wrong with homemade bacon bits.
Vegan Dish has a selection of vegan stamped mugs and bowls to enjoy this winter in the cold. Have some lapsang souchong in a bright blue mug to warm your day.
The good folks at Tattoed Geek have a plethora of soy candles and lip balms to stuff your stockings with. Treewool has the beautiful garland scarf that I have been eyeing all fall. You can’t go wrong with organic bamboo.
Vegan Pie in the Sky from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Best dessert book of 2011 for all your pie needs. Pumpkin cheesecake is good any day of the year.
You saw Buhbah’s picks, here’s mine! Buy local, handmade, vegan, etc. Some might say we’ve entered “last-minute” as it pertains to gift-buying for the holidays, but I say psshaw. Bake your hard-working postal worker some cookies and hope for the best.
This wonderful gift pack from Food for Lovers Queso (we love Chris and Crystal!) is essential. Your lucky recipient gets a jar of the best vegan queso, either a felt ornament from our very own Panda With Cookie or a queso cozy, and a personalized gift card. Open to US-only, sadly, but I know I have lots of American friends staring blankly at the tortilla chips in their cupboards.
I love My Zoetrope, it is no secret. I fell in love with artist Michelle Cavigliano’s colourful illustrations last year, and this year I am really excited to have her 2012 Calendar sitting on my desk, awaiting 2011 to bite the dust. Because aren’t we all waiting for 2011 to bite the dust?
I am by no means a perfume girl, but I can think of handful of crazy friends who would love this fascinating Grandpa’s Pipe-scented roll-on perfume oil from LondonCity.
The next two picks come from local (to me) businesses run by incredible people I have had the privilege to either work with, eat with, or write about.
Nice Shoes is Vancouver’s first vegan shoe store, run by a wonderful vegan couple. And I have been thinking about, saving up, not saving up enough and then going broke, and then thinking about again these boots for years.
Karmavore Vegan Shop has the ubiquitous Peppermint Chocolate Vitasoy in stock. Enough said. Non-Canadians, you are in luck—Karmavore ships worldwide!
This beautiful necklace makes me feel pretty emotional because it would have been the perfect gift for an inspiring bird-loving person I knew and loved and who passed away a couple of years ago. I’m sure many people would appreciate its uniqueness.
And because it always comes back to cats (Buhbah just jumped on my lap), who needs Santa cards when you can have trampoline kitties? The scrappyrat Etsy shop donates some of its proceeds to various worthy animal causes.
Part 1: Buhbah’s Picks
Happy holidays. Buy your cat some shit! Here is my Buhbah-Approved™ wish list for every cat, person with a cat, person who lives near a cat, person who acknowledges that cats exist, or dog on your list.
1. Arkham Horror: Listen up. The humans will play it, and when there are at least five monsters on the board and other random stuff, you can strut in adorably pretending to be Cthulhu and knock everything over. They’ll thing it’s hilarious and they’ll get mad, but in a “you don’t even KNOW how cute you are” way. Whenever they fish tiles and such out of the various bags, pretend to think it’s a treat. They’ll oooh and ahhh at your adorability and give you a real treat. BONUS: Those. Boxes. Are. Amazing.
2. The Buhbah: Y’all know I wouldn’t allow my namesake to sell a product if my buddy Panders didn’t know how to make the best damn catnip carrot there ever was.
3. A Buhbah Ornament: Fine, you can get the Panda to custom design your own cat’s face on an ornament, but we all know who’s the cutest of them all. Hello, look at my fang.
4. Mixmaster Cat Scratcher: Holy shit.
5. Hammer Pants: They’re on my list. They should be on your list. I google-imaged “cat wearing hammer pants” and a pic of the Biebs showed up. WHAT! Clearly more cats need hammer pants.
6. Teal Cat dolls, shirts, and cards: Someone named Isa along with friends is raising lots of money for my feline brethren. Props. Even though I’ve never seen a teal cat, I acknowledge that they might exist. I am still waiting for my bow tie.
Stayed tuned for Gabrielle’s picks tomorrow. They will be more in line with Vegans on the Move and maybe less so with hammer pants and catnip.
I wouldn’t say I’m adverse to raw food—I eat a lot of it without trying (especially in the summer), and I’ve had some damn tasty uncooked food. It’s just that over the years—working at a vegan magazine, having lots of encounters with vegans online, having been to several underwhelming and occasionally straight up preachy raw restaurants, I’ve developed a bit of a cynicism toward those who tell me I’m not treating my body right when I opt to steam, roast, and fry my vegetables. I am famously more than a little bit over the gazillions of recipes on blogs for date ballz. Fortunately, I am still interested in vegans enthusiastic about raw foods, and always willing to learn some new techniques even if I’m not planning on dishing out a thousand dollars for a Vita-Mix and a dehydrator anytime soon (though, for the record, I am not above receiving a free Vita-Mix).
My small island doesn’t appear to host many more vegans than myself and a handful of extremely kind raw foodists. Chris and Jim of Rawsome Living Foods first came on my radar when they offered a raw class a couple of years ago after travelling to Japan. I attended, and was blown away by the delicious Japanese-inspired raw menu we created: miso soup with marinated shiitakes, teriyaki vegetables, raw sushi rolls, and probably something else! Since then, the company has grown. They’ve held many cooking classes and have even hosted apprentices, they host a “not-a-cafe” cafe in the summer, they sell their homegrown wheatgrass and some other raw goodies at the Salt Spring Saturday Market, and Chris offers lifestyle coaching. They even offer a personal chef service, which one of our fellow workshop attendees raved about.
Despite his trepidation, I dragged my boyfriend to a “Make It and Take It” workshop at Rawsome this past Sunday. At $25/person and resulting in a four course raw meal to take home, I couldn’t resist, despite the fact that it was cold, raining, and we had a six pack of beer in the fridge to undo all of the health benefits of our rawsome meal to drink while watching the hockey game. But we ended up having a blast.
Our meal consistent of a chocolate milkshake (dates, cacao, banana, homemade almond milk, vanilla), the best kale chips I’ve ever tasted (kale dehydrated in a vegan Caesar dressing), sunflower seed-based burgers in a lettuce “bun” with sprouts and amazing dehydrated heirloom tomatoes, and an insanely decadent chocolate “cake” with chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis. Chris and Jim are enthusiastic, friendly, helpful and not at all preachy instructors, and the workshop was a nice blend of hands-on technique and information. Full disclosure: we had a second dinner around 11pm, but we always do that!
Now, I know that none of you readers live on my little island (if you do, HI! Let’s hang out!), but if you check out Rawsome’s website you can find some interesting information and recipes in the newsletters. Moreover, I encourage you to find someone in your area offering vegan cooking workshops and go support them.
Thanks Jim and Chris for being such fun and inspiring vegans on the move!
Vegans on the Move is pleased to share the newest project collaboration of fun and awesome from Celine Steen and Tami Noyes. They are the bakers extraordinaire and cookbook authors who blog at Have Cake Will Travel and Vegan Appetite, respectively. They have started Vegan Muffins on the Move, a monthly vegan muffin project which anyone can join.
Every month they will be posting a vegan muffin recipe and invite people to use that recipe or their own to bake a batch of muffins to take to their co-workers or local library or gym or any place they frequent but may not usually take baked goods. You are invited to post and comment on their blog and your own to help spread the word. This month’s featured muffin is the cinnacrunch muffin from Tami’s American Vegan Kitchen. I finally made these muffins this past weekend and urge you not to wait as long as I did to bake these up. They are most delicious and cinnamon-y and perfect for the season.
Follow them on their new blog devoted to Vegan Muffins on the Move and take part each month!
Panda and I have both been busy this week, but Sim has been even busier. Everyone’s favourite staunch, moustached cat has been planning a 2012 campaign trail. A small hiccup occurred last weekend when poor Sim was the victim if an evil car collision to his head, allegedly (so says Buhbah) driven by the annoying bark-machine Sim shares residence with. Do not worry, Internet, Sim is healing up nicely and has only a couple of small scars on his face to show for it.
Sim’s autobiography is due out just in time for the holidays. You should like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
The flood in my house is mostly a thing of the past, and Buhbah has been doing a whole lot of this in my office:
But Panda’s efforts (while Buhbah slumbers) don’t stop there. Panda had the brilliant idea to take custom cat face orders for your own personalized cat ornament. In true VOTM style, she is donating 10% of all cat ornament and zine orders to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, who assist cats that are looking for homes.
As if any feline-respecting person can resist. Contact Panda Cookie today and make sure your cat makes his/her appearance on your holiday tree!