Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Desperately Seeking Soycream

Earlier this week I went to Kensington Market at lunch to pick up some supplies and I decided to arm myself against the heat with some sort of frozen treat. Fingers crossed I headed to Hibuscus where I held out hope that they had ice cream cones so I could sample what Colleen has described as not only the best ice cream she has had but the most delicious thing she has ever eaten. Period. To my expectation and thus dissapointment, they didn't have cones so I would have had to stay in and I didn't have the time so head hung I headed to Essence of Life to search for a single serving soy treat.

After both winning and losing an internal debate over whether I should just get an entire box of Tofutti Cuties, I settled on the aptly branded So Delicious Vanilla and Almonds frozen treat on a stick.

I normally don't enjoy hard chocolate coatings but this was quite good and the almonds were a very nice addition. I was also impressed by it's low melting speed - one of my main complaints with many frozen soy deserts is their too fast melting.

How nice would it be if regular convienience stores carried these so cravings could be satisfied outside of the vegan holy land? Perhaps a petition will convince Hibiscus to carry cones? I do plan on bringing my own cone next week and seeing if they will fill it for me. Alternatively, Lisa should keep a fresh batch of Renee Loux Unerkoffler's Perfect Chocolate Mousse on hand ready
for delivery straight to my belly via the mouth train.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Worldwide Vegan Bakesale in Guelph, ON - June 27, 2009

Vegan Bake Sale as part of the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale
Hosted by the Vegetarians & Vegans of Guelph
Saturday June 27 8am - 3pm
All proceeds go to Ruby Ranch Pig Sanctuary

We're going to have a very special guest at the bake sale... he's cute, pink & was rescued off the back of a truck on it's way to the slaughterhouse...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TVA does the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

On Saturday, June 20, I and co-RCers/podcasters John and Liam hosted our very own "chapter" of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. We were a little worried that no one would come and we'd be FORCED to eat all the delicious donated goodies - Toronto was being plagued by big rains that day and we weren't sure that anyone would have the wherewithal to get outside in that mess. However, by 11:55 am (the sale ran from noon-2 pm), there was already a lineup of eager vegan baking aficionados ready to dig in.

There were all kinds of amazing-looking goodies of which I personally only got to try a couple because I didn't want to deprive the brave souls who came out into the weather to support the event. I will say that the truffles Sara made (check out her new vegan blog here) were absolutely phenomenal.

There were also lemon bars, banana bread (gluten-free and "regular"), ginger cookies, three different kinds of cupcake, raw cheezecakes from Living Sweets, cake, caramel pecan bars, and three kinds of truffles (two which were chocolaty, one of which was nut-free; and the other which was savoury - coated in a light dusting of cumin for a totally unique flavour).

By the time we got some pictures taken of this impressive spread, much of it had already been hidden away in happy vegans' bellies! We raised a couple hundred dollars for TVA with this event, but raising money wasn't really our main goal. Rather, what we really wanted to do was show people how kick-ass vegan baking can be (and to get potential participants excited for the upcoming Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, which will be held in early October.)

I think we had some success with getting people to think about the deliciousness of vegan fare, for several Baldwin Village business owners came out to support us and were really pleased at the tastiness of everything and wanted to know how to bake without eggs and dairy - which, of course, we were happy to explain. :)

Besides showing the world how amazing vegan baking can be, we also hosted this event to help foster community, for we feel that there aren't enough social opportunities for vegetarians and vegans to meet and mingle. The big event of the year is, of course, the annual vegetarian food fair TVA puts on, but we'd like to increase everyone's opportunities for getting together and talking tofurkey. So check the TVA website events listing and listen to the Toronto Vegetarian Podcast for information on other upcoming events!

Speaking of fostering community, we got to meet some great vegan peeps at this event. We met Sara and Peter (Sara being the unstoppable truffle-maker mentioned above and all-around enjoyer of vegan goodies).

We also got to meet Hellenic and Deepal, who have been vegan for 4 months now and were really excited to discover just how amazing life post-dairy and eggs can be. They bought so many treats, we had to package them up in an empty cake box for them! Hopefully they didn't eat them too quickly and give themselves belly aches.

All photos in this post were taken by Sara Rodrigues and Angela del Buono, except for the terribly too dark photo of Sara and Peter, which was taken by me, Colleen of the TVP, on Sara's camera.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Vitamin D Info

Recently on the Toronto Vegetarian Podcast there has been a lot of discussion about Vitamin D. One of our podcast listeners (Hi Michelle!) who is in her final year of med school at Harvard (Congrats, Michelle!) had the below information to add to the discussion. There were lots of good points made in her email and I'd thought I'd post it here for anyone looking for more info.

Thanks for listening to the podcast Michelle and for providing us with the below info.


What are the types of vitamin D supplements?

-- Vitamin D2 is ergocalciferol (yes, as you mentioned, the vegan one made from a component of fungi) - the brand name in the U.S. is Drisdol, brand names in Canada are both Drisdol® and Ostoforte®.

-- Vitamin D3 is cholecalciferol (the one made from lanolin, a sheep’s wool derivative)– Canadian brand name is D-Vi-Sol®; U.S. has many brand names.

-- Calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D) is used mainly for patients with liver disease.

-- Calcitriol (1,25-cholecalciferol) (the numbers just indicate the places on the vitamin D molecule that have the hydroxylations) is used mainly for patient with kidney failure.

Why can I only find D3 (and not D2) in stores?

The only form of vitamin D commonly found over-the-counter in the US (and, from your podcast, it sounds like Canada, as well) is D3. In the US, a prescription is required for D2. A personal comment – because D2 is usually a prescribed supplement, there is a chance that the “D2” you’re buying over-the-counter is actually mislabeled (for either innocent reasons, or because someone knows they can make a buck) D3 or something other than vitamin D entirely. Before giving up on D2 and moving to a non-vegan D3, you may want to ask your doctor for a prescription for D2. Just a thought.

What are the differences between the four types of vitamin D above?

Let’s start with how naturally-occurring “vitamin D” works in the body. A precursor molecule is converted to D3 in the skin by the sun, hence taking D3 bypasses the need for the sun (D2 is pretty similar to D3 molecularly). To become active, vitamin D3 must be hydroxylated (a chemical reaction/change) in two places on the molecule. The liver takes care of the first one, and the kidney takes care of the next. People who have normal liver and kidneys can take either vitamin D2 or D3 supplements. When significant kidney or liver problems are the cause of vitamin D deficiency, those people need a different supplement that is already hydroxylated (Calcidiol for liver problems and Calcitriol for kidney failure).

Is D3 “more potent” or “more effective” than D2? (i.e. do I need to take a non-vegan D3 supplement to make sure that I’m healthy?)

The main thing to remember is that different people absorb vitamin D at different rates. If you don’t have problems you’re your digestive tract and can generally absorb things fine, you still may need a bit more or less vitamin D supplement to get to healthy blood levels. This can be achieved by adjusting doses of either D2 or D3. Basically, if a dose isn’t working for you, take more. If you have normally-functioning kidneys, liver and other organs (it seems like you podcasters do) then you should be able to deal just fine with either D2 or D3 just fine after they’re absorbed. The evidence about whether D3 is the same or different than D2 in humans comes from 4 main studies. Three of the studies showed that D3 was “more potent” than D2 – however all three studies used very high doses of both (i.e. much different than you would be taking at home). All three also showed that D2 increased blood vitamin D levels, even if not as much as D3 at the same very high doses. The study that had the best design (according to rigorous academic and research standards) and used a 1000 IU dose (i.e. a normal daily maintenance dose) of both for comparison showed no difference between D2 and D3.

How much vitamin D should I – someone who is vitamin D deficient, but otherwise “normal” – be taking?

With all of the new discoveries about the importance of vitamin D for preventing cancer, keeping the immune system working, the cardiovascular system healthy, et cetera, the recommended daily doses are currently being revised upward. The previous recommendation was 400 IU per day, but this is only to prevent severe deficiency diseases like rickets or osteomalacia. It is thought that much more is needed for cancer prevention and immune system (etc.) function. What we are currently learning at Harvard Medical School is that 1000 IU is likely a better baseline daily dose, and that either taking a larger daily dose (like 2,000 IU per day) or even getting very large dose injections of vitamin D weekly are needed to bring vitamin D blood tests into the normal range. The “normal range” is also being revised upward. This means that the new “low-normal” will no longer be 75 nmol/L, but will be change to a larger number (sorry, yes this means that you’re even more deficient that you thought!).

All this to say – get your vitamin D and stay a healthy, happy vegan!

I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for the great podcast – I am looking forward to listening to some more of them!

All the best,


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living Sweets

This afternoon, Chris stopped by the Resource Centre to introduce us to his fabulous line of raw vegan cheesecakes.

This is a slice of the raspberry flavour. He also brought a slice of the lemon but it disappeared before I could snap a photo. The RC crew and our guest were blown away by the creamy texture of these raw treats.

This is how you will soon find Living Sweets for sale at health food stores around Toronto. Currently, slices are available at Noah's on Bloor (at Spadina).
There are six flavours in the line: Chocolate Mint, Blueberry, Raspberry, Lemon, Matcha and Coconut Banana.
The living sweets website is now up. Check them out at www.livingsweets.ca

Monday, June 1, 2009

Calling all TVA Bakers...and those who enjoy eating.

As you may have heard, Vegan baked goods are taking over the world from June 20th-28th.

The Toronto Vegetarian Association is participating in this worldwide extraveganza with a bake sale on June 20th. Check out the site to see where else in the world vegans will be hosting sweet celebrations (from Nigeria to New Zealand) or listen to the interview that John and Liam did with the event's creator.

On June 20th, we are asking TVA members to join us by baking up some delicious treats or by bringing their pocket change to exchange for decadent vegan delights.
The bake sale will take place in front of Vegetarian Haven (17 Baldwin st) from 12-2pm.

If you are interested in baking, please send us an email with what you'd like to prepare. We will post the list of contributions on the sidebar of this blog. We would appreciate hearing from you by June 13th.

Muffins from Vegan Brunch

If you are using a recipe from a cookbook that is available at the TVA resource centre let us know. That way, people who are interested in recreating your delicious delights at home could head up to the resource centre and grab their own resources to support their journey toward vegan baking supremacy.

If you just want to come and eat, plan to come early, and bring friends. Vegan treats seem to attract crowds.