With vegan businesses on the rise in Vancouver, Cera Rivers would rather see local plant-based entrepreneurs working together than driving each other out of business.
Rivers is the owner of Fairy Cakes, an East Van vegan cupcake shop that opened in March 2012. The previous year, seven vegan establishments opened in Metro Vancouver. One new vegan eatery has already started up this year, and another is on the way.
“I think the demand for vegan goods is definitely growing, and with that the amount of vegan businesses grow,” Rivers told the Georgia Straight by phone. “It’s wonderful, and we want to see them all prosper.”
On Monday (April 22), Rivers organized the first meeting of the Vancouver Vegan Business Association. According to her, the informal group arose from discussions in the community and is open to all vegan organizations in the region.
Held at Gorilla Food’s forthcoming second location in the Downtown Eastside, the meeting drew representatives of restaurants and shops—including Chomp Vegan Eatery, Eternal Abundance, Karmavore, and Nice Shoes—and the nonprofit groups Earthsave Canada and Elephant in the Room.
“We’re all working at a common goal,” Rivers said. “Yes, the more businesses that pop up, the more we kind of go, ‘Oh, we have competition now.’ There’s nasty competition, and there’s friendly competition. We can work together with our competitors, and not create that animosity. Competition is good for business, so we’d like to use it to our advantage to help everybody.”
According to Rivers, the association will be setting up an email list and a Facebook group for members. She noted entrepreneurs at the meeting discussed possibilities such as cross-promotion, joint purchases of supplies, sharing kitchen space, and hosting vegan markets.
Rivers is happy to have a forum in which to get to know her fellow vegan business owners, and share information and advice.
“We’re slowly toppling over that whole ‘vegan food is tasteless and it’s bland and gross’,” Rivers said, referring to a common misconception. “We’re all working toward spreading awareness and really sharing this vegan message, so that we all benefit from it.”