By: Jessica Percy Campbell (@veganvacationista)
From November 20th to 21st, over 8000 people gathered at Vancouver’s yearly Planted Expo convention. At Canada’s largest plant-based event, ticket-holders were treated to samples from over 200 innovative vendors featuring everything from cashew cheese to carrot-based salmon. Event-goers also gathered to listen to world-famous speakers such as Rich Roll, vegan ultra-marathon runner extraordinaire. Best of all, a percentage of the event proceeds went to Vancouver Island’s beloved A Home For Hooves Farm Sanctuary, who have recently welcomed over 100 new farm animals to their loving home for pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys, and more.
Event organizer Stephen Mirkavich could hardly contain his enthusiasm while explaining how we are about to witness a “decade of adoption” of plant-based products. In his view, many people are warming up to the idea of eating more plants not only for their health but also to confront climate change and animal injustice.
Of course, it’s no secret that plant-based living is already quite popular in our province. Naturally, there were tons of local BC vendors showcasing what they had to offer at Planted Expo. For our Tasting Victoria readers, we have compiled some of the top BC brands and where to find them in Victoria.
It might come as no surprise that plant-based salmon is hard to come by. That’s why it was so exciting to see Victoria’s own Save Da Sea doing so well at Planted Expo. Made from sustainable ingredients such as marinated carrot, this thinly sliced delicacy is a strong source of Omega 3. This veggie salmon is a wonderful addition to a poke bowl or can be served on a lox bagel with vegan cream cheese. Save Da Sea recently won the Rising Star category at the 2021 BC Food & Beverage Awards. Well earned!
This product is available at the Very Good Butchers, Lifestyle Markets or Whole Foods.
Speaking of our local heroes, the Very Good Butchers had one of the most popular stands at the event, serving up delicious vegan meatballs to the hungry crowd. Their sister brand, the Very Good Cheese Co. (formally known as Cultured Nut, also based out of Victoria), was a big hit as well. People were raving over their artisan cashew-based cheeses such as the GOUD AF*, which is their genius version of a classic smoked gouda.
When in downtown Victoria, check out all the deli items that the Very Good Butchers restaurant has to offer (new location at 515 Chatham St.). Some popular items are their “stuffed holiday beast” or the “ribz”. Their famous veggie burgers and sausages can be found all over town, including at Fairway Market, Zero Waste Emporium, Lifestyle Markets, and many more.
This Buddhist business from Richmond, BC has been making big waves in the vegan scene. Serving up some of the best soy-based meats and seafood on the market, one of their most popular items is their chicken drumsticks. The texture and taste are spot-on and they even come on a little wooden stick. Best marinated in a homemade BBQ sauce and then baked or air fried, serve some of these drumsticks at your next potluck event and you can thank us later. The Happy Veggie World “shrimp” is pretty amazing as well.
Available at Fairway Market on Quadra or at Thanh Ky Grocery.
Next up, we have Planted Expo’s product of the year. You’ve heard of oat milk, soy milk, and almond milk, but have you heard of buckwheat milk? This new Vancouver company is all about it. Their allergen-friendly products took Planted Expo by storm, as enthusiastic team members educated everyone on the environmental benefits of growing buckwheat. For example, buckwheat takes much less water to grow than other crops like soy, oats, or almond. Who knew? As an added bonus, their Strawberry Sass gelato is delicious and healthy.
Look out for BUCK gelato at Market on Yates and select Thrifty’s in Victoria.
Looking to impress your friends with some fancy artisan cheeses for your next dairy-free charcuterie board? Look no further than Vancouver’s greatest new vegan cheese companies. Blue Heron’s cashew and coconut-based products were super popular at Planted Expo and for good reason. They have a decadent Herb and Garlic cheese wheel, which is perfect for spreading on crackers or bagels. For the more refined palate, they also offer a carefully-aged blue cheese, the Cormorant, as well as the lighter Bleuet Cumulus (perfect for crumbling on salads).
Blue Heron cheese is available at Save On Foods.
Nina’s Pierogies is a small but mighty local company from Langley, BC Try their homemade plant-based options such as Vegan Cheddar, Butternut Squash and Sage, or Mediterranean pierogies (chickpea, onion, tomato, roasted peppers). Best enjoyed boiled and then fried with vegan butter, veggie bacon, and onion; top these off with dairy-free sour cream. Warm pierogies are extra wonderful on a dreary day. Bonus: many of their products are gluten-free as well.
You can pick up Nina’s Pierogies at Belle General, For Good Measure, and The Local General Store.
Overall, 2021 Planted Expo was a major hit, and it was inspiring to see so much support for local businesses after such a tough couple of years. With so many fantastic BC vendors, we simply couldn’t mention them all, but be sure to keep an eye out for Black Sheep Vegan Cheeze, Spread-em Kitchen, and Plant-Based Komo Comfort Foods too!