Eating with omnivores

I spent most of Saturday with a group of foodie friends from school — first shopping at Toronto’s spectacular St. Lawrence Market, then making, eating and sharing delicious food. I generally find that people who self-describe as “foodies”, in the traditional sense, tend not to be very vegan friendly. Often, I notice a subtle attitude to the effect that vegetarian food can be good, but is somehow inferior in taste to cuisine centred around animal products. (Note: this is not a specific commentary on any of my friends – it’s simply a general observation!)

At any rate, when dining with non-veg friends, especially those of the foodie variety, I feel that it is my mission to show them that vegan (and raw) food is complex, inventive and yes, dare I say it, better than traditional fare. And there’s no better way to do so than with a raw dessert. So I wowed my omnivorous foodie friends with a strawberry-topped raw vegan cheesecake!

The vegans ate roasted asparagus, zucchini and portabello mushrooms, with fresh organic greens, wild leeks, broccollini and a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.

I am realizing that for the past few years, I have tended to seek out and spend time mainly with veg friends. I socialized frequently with friends from the vegetarian association in Ottawa, with which I was involved, and friends from work, who mostly ate the same way that I do (I used to work in politics, and for an animal protection organization – lots of veg folks). But when I moved to Toronto and became immersed in the new world of law school, I made a lot more non-veg friends. Andnone of them have ever even heard of eating raw! It has been fun to share my style of cuisine with a new group of people, but at the same time I’ve had to step a little outside my comfort zone while participating in some social dining situations. For instance, I’ve eaten at restaurants I would never choose myself in a million years, such as a Korean BBQ joint. (Thankfully, they had some straight-up veggies and rice. Thank you, Asian cuisine, for your veg-friendliness.) For the vegans out there, especially those of you who eat a lot of raw food, do you find it difficult to share meals with non-veg folks? How do you cope?

I hope a fabulous weekend was had by all. I’ll leave you with some photos of the goods at the St. Lawrence Market, including Cruda Cafe’s raw goodies! Although we didn’t eat there this time, I’m glad to see that Cruda’s menu has grown immensely since the last time I was there, and equally happy that the place was insanely busy. Raw food is good food πŸ™‚

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10 Comments to “Eating with omnivores”

  1. All the food looks fab! I love sharing my veggie food with my SAD eating friends too!

    Cafe Cruda… I’m coming to Toronto this summer – I must go there, and we must meet up – raw foodie party with us, Nelly and Lisa ! πŸ™‚

  2. omg love the pics!!!

    cruda is in st. lawrence and kensington market? i have only heard of the one located in st. lawrence market! and i have been meaning to go on my lunch break one day…and after seeing these beautiful pictures and wild coconuts i am definitely going this week!

    thanks for sharing this post by the way…it is pretty difficult to dine with SAD eating friends and family…but i have no choice because everyone i know eats a very SAD diet! a lot of the people i know are also foodies…my boyfriend’s aunt is the chef at rodneys by bay…she’s a major foodie, so is his entire family…ok enough babbling…hope you had a lovely weekend girl!!!

    =)

    • Oops, that’s a total typo — only in St. Lawrence market! I will fix it πŸ™‚ But yes, definitely check out Cruda.

      Neat that your aunt works at Rodney’s — I know Rodney! A lawyer friend of mine conducts all his business out of Rodney’s other location. They have been super nice about making me vegan food too, including an entire massive platter of raw veggies and balsamic dressing.

  3. awesome pictures camille! i seriously need a new lens for my camera. organic coconuts, pretty cool. i’ve lived in toronto three years (minus the summers, save for this current summer) and i have not been to st. lawrence market once. i know, i know…

    i dont have any veg foodie friends (and only really a couple conventional foodie friends), so it’s very tough. also most of my peers are at the eat-takeout-sushi-for-dinner age (18-22). the most veg friend i can think of is the kind who are super into cheesy nachos, vegetarian poutine, and butter cookies. it doesn’t help that i honestly can’t have any dairy (and was never into it anyway, growing up). i usually have to settle for something like hummus and pita, rather than focus on actual vegetables. it doesn’t help that i can’t have most wheat either. hahaha. because i’m at an age wherein people choose cheap over quality, one trip to a raw vegan restaurant with me will be something of a novelty that is fun once in a long while for them.

    long story short – i need a coping mechanism, because i currently don’t have one. i confess it makes me feel isolated at times, but i feel that i’ve been coping with it extremely well. i usually carry my own snacks to places and look up the menu before i go, and think of substitutions and such to make, ahead of time. i have tried to get people interested by whipping up something (mostly raw) vegan that is delicious or having them try vegan desserts. i introduced tempeh and coconut milk ice cream to my ex-boyfriend and he went nuts over both. but at the end of the day, they will choose the meat and dairy over the veg. because teriyaki beef tastes “better” and is more “worth it” in terms of cost.

    i can relate to some of the things you wrote… my coworkers in a former workplace thought what i bring for lunch was beyond strange (usually lots of kale and avocado). they say the word ‘vegan’ like it’s completely foreign, but understandably so. i wouldnt be surprised if they thought i had a severe eating disorder and paranoia about my body image.

    a comment about the (often all-you-can-eat) korean barbeque – i hate this preconception that exists in toronto that korean food = bbq, because that’s simply not representative of korean food. toronto has some of the most terrible east asian cuisine i’ve seen and i don’t touch most asian restaurants (save for a couple really good ones in koreatown) even though i have cravings for what i ate growing up. for koreans, meat is a special thing to eat, as it is expensive back home. almost everyone eat their weight in pickled and fermented napa cabbage — rice and kimchi is like bread and butter. there’s a lot of tofu, stews, and much, much more fish than red meat.

    unrelated note – i notice you’re wearing a ring on your left middle finger. what does that signify?

    • I totally feel the same way as you about a lot of those issues, Jenny. I have become defined by my lunches, which also consist mostly of kale, and it can be difficult to become fully engaged in social situations that focus on SAD food.

      Mmm, kimchi. You’re so lucky you got to eat that all the time growing up!

      Oh, and the ring signifies nothing in particular — that simply happens to be the only finger it fits on πŸ™‚ It’s a neat ring though – it belongs to my mom, technically, and it was made from an American quarter, by an old bf of hers. I love it!

  4. Wow, that cake looks amazing, so perfect! And these pictures are gorgeous. I agree, I spend a lot of time with my veggie friendly, or veggie friends. I am lucky because my best friend is a vegan, so is my mother in law and my sis is almost vegan. I do tend to not want to spend time with those who are more close minded about my lifestyle. But, I don’t want that energy in my life anyway. πŸ™‚

  5. Um, that cake? Needs a home…IN MA BELLY! πŸ™‚ Looks so good! I understand the spending more time with like-minded people (i.e. veggies). It’s easier but it’s also fun to expose the non-veggies to world of vegetarianism, veganism, and a raw. There’s so much to explore people! But I had to learn this myself so I understand. Your pics look great and those walnuts, how cool!

  6. beautiful post with wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing – I’ve also added your blog to my list of fave raw food sites on my blog πŸ™‚

  7. Hi! I came across your blog by checking out your award-winning cake on Sweetly Raw – Congrats!

    I love your blog, it’s awesome and loaded with delicious-looking food. Very inspiring! I’m starting a big cross-Canada road trip in two days and will be in Toronto around June 3rd-5th and will be popping back in a couple of days later before continuing East. I was wondering if we could hang out! Living in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan for a while made it really hard to eat raw (I’m vegan, low raw), and even harder to find raw vegan enthusiasts! So it’d be super awesome if we could meet up! Maybe you could show me some neat shops, markets and restaurants, or we could cook something up together at your place. Let me know if you’re interested! =)

    Oh, have you heard of the Simply Raw Healthy Lifestyles Festival happening on June 19th in Ottawa? You should check it out! I’m definitely going to be there for the whole day.

    I’ve got a food blog called UnReFiNeD: http://www.nocrapdiet.wordpress.com in case you want to check it out. Ciao!

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