This past weekend, my boyfriend (Sam) and I headed to Toronto to attend the Buy Good Feel Good Show. This event was organized by a friend of ours whose goal is to bring together a community of social entrepreneurs, consumers and retailers who share common values and who believe that business is not just about maximizing profits. Business should rather be about engaging in ethical business practices that are environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive and empowering to workers all around the world.
It was quite incredible to meet so many people who believe so strongly in ethical business practices and sustainability. Some of the wonderful brands that inspired me the most were :
- Baolyfe: A brand that makes fashionable jewelry and accessories from natural and recycled materials, while empowering Kenyan artisans.
- Chic Made Consciously: A brand working with artists in Bali to create edgy fashion accessories using recycled tires.
- OilBlends: A Toronto company that creates high quality skincare products using natural and organic ingredients.
- Little by Little: A brand creating ethically sourced and beautifully designed products, empowering Haitian parents in Haiti with a job and a stable income to keep them out of poverty.
Apart from being inspired by the incredible socially conscious brands attending the show, Sam and I got to indulge in some amazing vegan dishes.
Living in Montreal, there are a few vegan restaurants that I personally really enjoy going to, like Panthère Verte, ChuChai, and Aux Vivres, but I do find that the Montreal vegan food scene is still relatively limited compared to that of other cities. That is why, every time I get to go to Toronto, I am suuuuuper excited to try new vegan restaurants. This time, I was really craving vegan fast food a.k.a. salty, decadent and rich dishes.
Following a few Toronto vegan foodies, I had heard that one of the best places for this type of food is Hogtown Vegan... so ... of course, Sam and I had to stop there during our short stay in the city.
After the opening night of the Buy Good Feel Good Expo, we headed on Bloor Street to treat ourselves to:
(1) FRIES SUPREMACY. Just imagine some hot, crispy fries topped with a creamy “cheese” sauce, fake bacon bits, a generous drizzle of sunflower sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh green onions. Heaven. Nothing to add.
(2) Buffalo and BBQ “WINGS”. They are made with soy protein, coated with a crispy batter and two flavour-packed sauces. Alongside the wings came a creamy chipotle ranch dipping sauce which added an awesome punch of flavour to every bite. P.S. We were not completely unhealthy – notice the carrots and celery on the photo: 1 portion of veggies.
(3) SOUTHERN COMBO. Time for confession: I have never had sautéed collard greens nor vegan mac and cheese (which for many new vegans is one of the first traditional dish they try to replicate). Anyways, my favorite part of the dish was… the fake chicken; the batter was very crunchy and flavourful and it went superbly well with the goey, creamy mac and cheese. To me, the collard greens were not a huuuge success. I just found they lacked a bit of flavour, but with a bit of the house-made BBQ sauce the dish came with, they were still tasty.
(4) DEEP FRIED OREOS & COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM. When this dish arrived to our table, I have to admit, Sam and I looked at each other and just thought, “what have we done.” This thought of slight guilt completely vanished when we bit into our first Oreo. It was absolutely divine – many might say it is not a very complex or difficult dish to execute, but my reply is, you don’t always need complex desserts. Sometimes, all your belly wants is to indulge in something sweet, fried, rich, and crunchy. This dish had it all.
All in all, Hogtown Vegan did not disappoint – I think it is the perfect spot to satisfy your craving for classic “veganized” comfort food dishes that are packed with flavour.
Two other vegan restaurants I would recommend are:
- Live Organic, a restaurant with a focus on offering healthy, plant-based, well balanced and flavourful dishes. My personal recommendation would be the tasty Pulled Burdock Burrito (burdock, guacamole, sweet potatoes, tempeh, kimchi, spinach, BBQ sauce, brown rice tortilla).
- Grasshopper, which is actually my favorite vegan restaurant. They make the most delicious “chick-un” nuggets with creamy BBQ sauce and serve the world’s greatest kimchi fries in my opinion (their fries are fried in sesame oil, which really puts the dish on another level). This restaurant is a must if you live in or are visiting Toronto and are looking for a plant-based restaurant that has a great variety of dishes on the menu, ranging from healthy, bright and fresh to more decadent comfort food dishes.