Vegan restaurants bring crunchy variety to Edmonton’s food scene

Consumers may line up for cheese made from cashews because it’s trendy. Or there may truly be a plant-based movement afoot. Either way, more dining options for vegans are sprouting up in Edmonton.

By the end of the summer, three well-known, non-meat brands are due to open. The Green Moustache and Copper Branch are chains from B.C. and Quebec respectively that are devoted to whole, plant-based and organic foods.

Come August, American celebrity chef Matthew Kenney launches Kanu, an upscale experience in the Mayfair on Jasper, an apartment and retail complex that also houses Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon bun chain that saw lineups around the block when it opened two months ago.

On a larger scale, after recently hosting a plant-based conference, NAIT is looking at a host of plant-based eating options on campus — a move that could impact thousands of students.

All this buzz about eschewing meat in favour of plants begs the question: are more people becoming vegans? Or are garden greens simply enjoying their day in the sun?

Statistics don’t support a widespread move away from animal products. A recent study by Dalhousie University notes only 2.3 per cent of Canadians call themselves vegan (which means that they don’t eat any animal products, including honey). Some 7.1 per cent of Canadians embrace vegetarianism. Those numbers haven’t changed in about a decade.

Perhaps the most telling statistic in the Dalhousie study is that 43 per cent of folks surveyed want to incorporate more plant-based food in their diet, which may point to the true market potential — the omnivore with a yen for fibre.

When Die Pie, a plant-based pizzeria on Jasper Avenue, opened its doors last August, it was because the co-owners were raised vegetarian and thought Edmonton needed more options for good food without animal protein. Chef and co-owner Neil Royale, who is now a vegan, says his restaurant attracts folks like him. But he also says lots of people are simply interested in eating healthy, and Die Pie is a tasty option.

“We call ourselves plant-based because sometimes people have a negative feeling about the word ‘vegan.’ That represents to them some people who are pushing their view on you. We don’t push anything on the customer,” says Royale.

Dietitian Nick Creelman, who organized a three-day conference in May at NAIT on plant-based eating, says part of the challenge of introducing vegan food is that people generally don’t trust what’s

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Lifestyle


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