Vegan/vegetarian round-up: Eat the Dishes, Copper Branch among the new options in Vancouver

From cookbooks to meetups, there's more for people on a plant-based diet to love

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      When the folks at Blue Heron Creamery, Vancouver’s first stand-alone vegan “cheese” shop, aren’t fighting the Canadian Food Inspection Agency over the word cheese, they’re busy running Soil (2408 Main Street), a recent addition to the city’s vegan-dining scene.

      Soil’s focus is on minimizing food waste. The cozy nook does that by emphasizing techniques like fermentation and preservation while working directly with farmers to use seconds and imperfect/ “ugly” produce.

      As a result, the menu is always changing. Examples of what you might find there for brunch, lunch, or dinner include a dish called Raw Toast. Made with nuts, seeds, and sun-dried tomato, the raw bread is served with a dill-and-preserved-lemon cultured cashew “cheese” (just playing it safe here with the quotation marks) and a vegan “tuna” made from chickpeas, artichoke, and young jackfruit.

      The vegan dishes at Soil are made with imperfect produce to reduce food waste.

      With constantly changing ingredients, Soil has to be creative; here’s an example of just how innovative the kitchen gets. A past dish featured a celeriac gnocchi with watercress, gold-beet fondue, fennel confit, crispy sage, and a sage-and-walnut pesto. Another had turmeric-and-saffron-roasted cauliflower, lima-bean-and-sunchoke puree, artichoke tea-braised chard, chard emulsion, toasted hazelnut, pomegranate, and chermoula.

      The space is also open for events, particularly those focused on focused on food justice and food security.

      Port Moody’s NOBLE Jerky, a vegan soy-based, non-GMO meat alternative, is now on the menu at Salt Tasting Room and the Irish Heather, on a charcuterie plate with vegan nut cheese.

      Vegan eatery Copper Branch is soon coming to Vancouver with dishes like collard wraps.
      Copper Branch/Instagram.

      Copper Branch, a fast-casual vegan spot that launched in Montreal, is soon coming to Yaletown. Its diverse menu features vegan burgers, power bowls, chilis, burritos, nachos, smoothies, all-day breakfasts, poutine, buffalo wings, and more. The chain is also aggressively expanding to other parts of Canada, the U.S., and France. 

      The serving containers for the vegan soups and hot chocolates at Eat the Dishes are edible.

      New Vancouver food stand Eat the Dishes stays true to its namesake: its vessels for vegan soups and hot chocolates are edible, made out of bread. Founder Marissa Bergeron used to work for an international airline and got to know street all over the world.

      “Unfortunately, the common theme was one I could no longer stomach: waste,” Bergeron says on her website. “I felt guilty throwing plastic, Styrofoam, and cardboard away only minutes after it was handed to me. Something had to change. Eat the Dishes was created to showcase that street food can be high flavour, yet low waste.”

      Check its website for upcoming market and event dates.

      Vegetarians and vegans looking to connect with like-minded folk elsewhere need only check out Meetup, which has listings for a slew of related gatherings.

      There, you can find groups like Socially Active Vancouver Vegans and Vegetarians; Vancouver Vegan Sisterhood; Vancouver Vegan conservatives; Modern Vegan Family, Don’t Forget Fido; and more.

      Meanwhile, in what’s perfect timing with Health Canada updating the Canada Food Guide to reflect the benefits of plant-based diets, two recently released cookbooks by local creatives are geared to vegetarians.

      The Recipe Box: YVR goes plant-based with its vegetarian edition.
      The Recipe Box: YVR.

      The second version of the Recipe Box: YVR contains 65 vegetarian and vegan recipes from leading Vancouver chefs and restaurants.

      The Recipe Box is just that: an actual physical object containing recipes printed on glossy cards, each with a colour photo on the other side. The embossed wooden box itself comes in two styles: ash or walnut. 

      Participating eateries include MeeT, Turf, Calabash Caribbean Bistro, Jam Cafe, Edible Canada at the Market, Chicha, Anh and Chi, Botanist, and Hawksworth. There are recipes for everything from cocktails to ramen to desserts.

      Top Chef Canada finalist Mark Singson shares his recipe for Pickled Apple Toasts with Sunflower Butter, Yeasts and Fried Shallots; Aleph Eatery provides recipes for Turmeric Cauliflower, Enoki Mushroom Shawarma, and Coconut Chocolate Tart.

      Designed and developed by Vancouver self-taught photographer Sofia Kuan, the Recipe Box YVR Vegetarian Edition goes for $65.

      The Foodie cookbook series has put a vegetarian spin on its latest edition, with The Plant-Based Foodie—Vancouver. Previous books have focused on the North Shore, East Van, and Gastown.

      The Plant-Based Foodie has dozens of recipes for vegetarian cooks.
      The Foodie Books.

      Brad Hill, the series’ creator, photographer, editor, publisher, and “delivery guy”, turned his focus to vegetarian restaurants after transitioning to a plant-based diet himself.

      He shares recipes from 27 eateries, such as the Acorn, the Arbor, Buddha-Full, Say Hello! Sweets, Virtuous Pie, and the Naam, along with stories by Chris Dagenais. Heirloom offers a recipe for tiramisu; Lotus Seed Restaurant provides the recipe for its Lemongrass Thai Curry; Green Moustache Organic Café shares a how-to of its Kitchari Bowl.

      The hard-cover Plant-Based Foodie—Vancouver is $39.95.