Welcome to the Vegging Out website. It is designed as a means of providing much of the infomation available in a book I wrote that is currently awaiting publication. It was felt that it was important that the information be made available to you now, rather than waiting for it to appear in print.
This website is a work in progress, with chapters being added on an ongoing basis. Due to its volume it couldn't be presented in its entirety from the start, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this yet.... I hope you enjoy it, and that it provides a wealth of information to you. Thank you.
Vegging Out In Alberta, or, in the immortal words of Bart Simpson, Don't Have A Cow Man.
Writing a book such as this is always an exercise in self-restraint as well as being a trip down memory lane, the lane having its beginnings in 1977, when I first moved to Calgary. Much has changed since then, although there were vegetarian restaurants here back then too, along with natural food stores, the Vegetarian Society, and more.
Today of course, there are so many options for the vegetarian, along with a variety of vegetarian diets too, from the 'traditional' lacto-ovo vegetarian, to the vegan and raw foodist diets, and a few variations on these as well. This site is intended to promote these diets, though at this point in time, the raw foods options are still quite limited. I have contacts for those who are behind this rapidly growing lifestyle choice though, so those who are interested are encouraged to get in touch with them, both as consumers and adherents, and those in the foods industry that are looking to expand their horizons.
Where there are vegetarian options there are often going to be vegan ones but one needs to be careful and not assume this to be the case. When this was written there were good selecions to be had but as with most restaurants menus do change, and with that, ingredients carried and used. Do not hesitate to ask the server or even the chef as to whether there are any animal products used in their dishes, being specific of course. Some curry bases use shrimp or anchovy paste for instance, or a 'fish sauce' can be found in some asian dishes, particularly Thai and/or Vietnamese ones.
East Indian cultures don't consider dairy products to be an issue as far as vegetarianism is concerned but eggs are considered 'meat'. Thus you can expect to find egg based dishes in the meat section especially if served in a buffet setting.
Calgary and Edmonton, as the major centres of Alberta naturally have the best selections for vegetarian dining and products including food stores, markets and organisations, to name a few. That doesn't mean that one cannot find options elsewhere, especially if one is looking for fresh produce. For those living or venturing forth into outlying areas or towns and cities, there are many foods available in the casual establishments, such as restaurant chains, including fast food places. There are in fact, some amazing choices to be had, ranging from 'Veggie' Pepperoni Pizzas at Panagos, to the recently introduced vegetarian sandwich at KFC. For the burger fans Harveys' veggie burger is vegan, as is the one at Burger King, with A & W serving a Moneys veggie burger pattie.
As well, throughout Alberta there are vegetarian diner clubs forming all the time, to make it easier for people to get together with like-minded individuals, especially where such diets are rare, and thus food selection at stores, etc. The 7th Day Adventist Assemblies are an excellent source of information for such clubs, as well as foods, with a trailer making its rounds to virtually every corner of Alberta, laden with foods to satisfy both the vegan and vegetarian palate. Contact them directly at the nearest Assembly, or via their central bookmobile phone. Their toll-free phone number is 1-800-661-8131. They will be more than happy to assist you in finding diners clubs, and providing vegetarian foods as well.
What I thrill over however, is that there is this sense of adventure when one sets out to try a new venue, or discovers one for the first time, learning of them by word of mouth or through friends, etc. More than that however, is that there seems to be this unspoken camaraderie that seems to exist among vegetarians, a quiet acceptance within and for one another.
I came to know some amazing people in the course of writing this tome, people who set out to take their lives and their beliefs a step or two further by starting a business that embraced what they do in their day to day living. This includes stores not involved in foods, but are animal friendly in the products they sell, such as Krickets in Calgary. Each member of the family that runs it is vegetarian, and their idea was to open a store that reflected their views. Of course, there is also Earth's General Store, the dream realised by one Michael Kalmanovitch, who created a store and information source for so many aspects of vegetarian ethic, from diet to environment, to activism and more.
The book has a chapter dedicated to some of the people behind the scenes in the vegetarian landscape here in Alberta; perhaps at some point the website will incorporate them too. But it will have a section highlighting organisations that are on the cutting edge of vegetarian consciousness, including vegetarian societies, animal advocacy organisations, and health and wellness groups. Honest.
To wrap up this introduction, I want to encourage people to visit these places, let them know where you heard about them and get to know the places and the people behind them. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned through communication, and those who live their vegetarianism through their businesses, along with those who have committed to presenting veggie fare for us as well as for the open-minded and interested, each have something to impart, through the foods served and products sold. Those establishments that are strictly vegetarian deserve our support as do those who are taking a chance by providing veg food in a market that as yet is still predominantly animal oriented. The more it is shown to them that vegetarianism is here to stay, the more they will include it, add more to their menu(s) and, who knows, down the road may decide it is best to serve nothing but vegetarian food.
I would love to hear comments and suggestions, a heads-up on places not yet noted-it changes all the time...
I want to acknowledge here all the people I met and interviewed for the book, many of them awaiting their eventual inclusion onto the site.
Thank you all....