Vancouver Vegan Business Association brings together plant-based entrepreneurs

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      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.”


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      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:08am

      I'm glad to see this movement spreading across the whole lower mainland ... although, I work downtown & quite surprisingly, there is a real lack of good, creative, tasty vegan-friendly establishments (aside from just ordering from a regular menu "sans meat") ... seems Commercial Drive won the jackpot on this.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 10:52am

      Seven new vegan establishments last year!?! That is really impressive. At this rate of increase, we could reach a tipping point for the general public. Glad to see the vegan businesses are able to work together, too.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 12:33pm

      Great to see the healthy, compassionate demand for eco-conscious plant-based offerings growing in a big city like Vancouver. And vegan enterprises engaging in mutual aid can only enhance this important movement ... a good example of the ethics inherent in practising a vegan lifestyle, and an inspiration!


      Apr 24, 2013 at 1:42pm

      The high rent rates in downtown may be a reason why small scale vegan businesses refrain from choosing those locations.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 1:42pm

      I just got cupcakes at Fairy Cakes over the weekend--they were amazing! And since Nice Shoes was next door, I stopped in and got a new cookbook.


      Apr 24, 2013 at 5:22pm

      Get Fairy Cakes' cheesecake! It is AMAZING! =)


      Apr 29, 2013 at 4:52am

      The word you're looking for is "coopetition" - a collaborative competition, that grows the (vegan) pie rather than competing to have a bigger slice of the pie. Great stuff!