Sunday, August 30, 2015

Canadian Online Vegan-Friendly Shopping

It used to be that all the online shopping options were USA based such as Vegan Essentials and Food Fight. (I've successfully ordered from both shops). It is great to have these options but with shipping costs, shipping times and customs fees it can be expensive and difficult, especially when dealing with perishable items. Canadians now have a few more options for online shopping to get those hard to find vegan friendly items. I have been a long time customer of Nice Shoes; Canada's Vegan Shoe Store. Nice Shoes has a fantastic selection of men's and women's shoes for all occasions. Plus they have belts, bags, purses, wallets, shoe care, socks and even some chocolates. Their shipping is fast, service friendly and a wonderful selection of items. Another place I frequently shop is, which is not a vegan store but has a large selection of vegan friendly food, personal care and household items, plus free shipping if you send $29.00.

Now onto my latest online shopping crush: Vegan Supply, which opened in May 2015 and is located in Vancouver, BC. (There is also an Eastern vegan online store, based in Toronto, that I have not shopped at: The V Word Market). Vegan Supply stocks all sort of items not normally available in Canada. My first experience dealing with the force behind Vegan Supply was ordering vegan items from Antony and Sons in December 2014, before they had their dedicated vegan company Vegan Supply. You can read more about it in my Calgary Vegan Cheese post. Fast forward to present day; I made a large and varied purchase of items in August 2015, pictured below.

Let's start with dessert first! I have long loved Cocomels; the original coconut milk caramels. I ordered an old favourite, 2 boxes of the sea salt naked Cocomels. I also tried the chocolate covered Cocomel with sea salt; divine! The caramels have a real buttery taste with a pleasant, but not over powering, coconut flavour. Dipping them in chocolate takes the taste up to another level.

Vegan Supply has a good selection of vegan meats and I opted for; Louisville Jerky, Viana Picknicker, and the Beyond Meat Beast Burger. The maple bacon flavoured jerky was the best I've had and it boasts 12 grams of protein per bag, gluten free and most important delicious! I've had the Viana Picknicker before while traveling in Europe, and itt is a great on the go snack similar to salami. Last but definitely not least, I finally tried the much praised Beast Burger. Outside Magazine recently wrote an article on this product titled "The Top-Secret Food that Will Change the Way You Eat" A quote fro the article; More protein than beef. More omegas than salmon. Tons of calcium, antioxidants, and vitamin B. In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides. The burger was truly the best store bought vegan burger I have ever tried. It had a great favour, texture and no odd after taste that I sometimes find with veggie burgers. For those concerned about gluten (not me I love gluten!) the burger is also gluten free. It grilled up well on the BBQ and my only regret is that I did not order more!

Now for the area in which Vegan Supply really excels; a robust variety of vegan cheese! I ordered cheese from; VtopianChao slices from Field RoastMiyoko's Kitchen and mac and cheese from Daiya. I have had Vtopian cheese on numerous occasions and it is always delicious  This time we got the Camembert which is a heavy creamy consistency with a slightly sweet cheese flavour. It spreads well and was used on bread and on top of perogies. I also purchased a Vtopian seitan cheese ball which is my favourite. It is a deletable hazelnut cheese wrapped in maple seitan. Perfect for parties or eating straight up on fresh bread. Up next is Chao slices, which are now my favourite vegan cheese slices! They have that more processed cheese slice taste, vs gourmet aged cheese, but that is not a bad thing. They worked very well in cheese sandwiches and grilled cheese. My favourite flavour was the Tomato Cayenne, but all were terrific. My overall favourite cheese pick was Miyoko's in Winter Truffle and Smoked Farmhouse. The winter truffle was the softest and had deep mushroom flavour. The smoked farmhouse was out of this world with a smoky, deep umami flavour and firmer texture. I love pairing good vegan cheese with an organic baguette or ciabatta bun from Ace Bakery, found locally at Superstore or Co-op.

Now the Daiya mac and cheese is not straight up cheese but the noodles come with a soft cheese pouch similar to velveeta.  Out of the two I ordered, I've only tried the Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie, and it was pretty good, although I've heard the Deluxe Cheddar Style is better so I will be ordering that kind next time. The noodles cooked up nicely (which surprised me a bit as they are gluten free) and the cheese pouch mixed in well. 

Vegan Supply is a terrific addition to the Canadian vegan community. My order was processed quickly, with great communication. When shipping perishables you need to purchase ice packs and choose the two day shipping options. This of course adds to the price but it is certainly much cheaper than a trip to the United States! I opted for UPS and the box arrived well packaged and still cool even in a heat wave. I recommend shipping to a location where you will be present to collect it. I shipped it to work and kept it in the fridge until the end of the day. Next time I will try out the cheaper expedited shipping option via Canada Post. 

Happy shopping!