LOCAL FLAVOUR: Vegan delights
If Jennifer Jamal ever gets hungry enough to eat the shoes she sells at Karmavore, she can do so with a clear conscience. That's because everything in her New Westminster boutique is vegan, meaning nothing is made with animal or dairy products, no leather in the hiking boots, handbags or belts sold upstairs, no meat, eggs, gelatin, milk or honey in the food sold downstairs.
Jamal has been a committed vegan for about five years. She says she stopped eating meat after being disturbed by a video about livestock factory farming she'd seen on the internet. As she further educated herself, she started cutting dairy, eggs and fish from her diet as well.
Quitting meat cold tofurkey wasn't easy, admits Jamal. She sought guidance from a nutritionist to help balance her new diet and find new sources of protein. Family and friends at first had difficulty adjusting to her new regime. And finding vegan products at the supermarket and shopping mall was nearly impossible.
She says she spent a lot of time shopping online. It was time consuming and expensive. And if she was struggling, she surmised others must be enduring the same challenges. That's when Jamal, and her husband Salim, a longtime vegan, had an idea to start their own business selling vegan products.
At first they operated only online. But when an opportunity to open a small storefront in Sapperton presented itself, the Burnaby residents decided to move their wares from the back room to bright display shelves.
In December, Karmavore moved to new digs at 610 Columbia St. The exposed brick walls, lacquered timbers and reclaimed wood floors give the place a funky, urban vibe. The 2500 square feet of space on two floors give them ten times the area to fill with an ever-expanding line of vegan products like cat food imported from Italy.
"Customers come in and shriek 'I've never seen this before!'" says Jamal. "It's a good day here when we get a lot of that kind of feedback."
A small take-out deli has also just been added on the food floor to tickle vegan tastebuds, or those just curious about veganism, with a selection of cakes, raw cheesecake, soft-serve ice and even flakey croissants fresh from the oven.
Jamal smiles at the decadence of it all.
"I don't feel like I'm so deprived any more."
Coconut, Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
1/4 block (2-3 ounces) creamed coconut (I use all organic ingredients)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 red onions, chopped
1/4 pumpkin or sweet potato, cubed
1 cup red lentils
Celtic sea salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups veggie stock
large bunch silver beet or baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1. In a large saucepan, dissolve the creamed coconut with some filtered water until melted. Throw in the garlic, onions, pumpkin/sweet potato, and lentils with a pinch Celtic sea salt and stir until coated.
2. Add in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer on a medium flame for about 40 minutes until the lentils are cooked through. The soup should be quite thick and the vegetables should have broken down. You could mash further with a stick blender, but it is often not necessary.
3. Now stir in greens, and squeeze in the desired amount of fresh grated ginger. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the greens are just wilted and cooked.
Serve with a grain ball and garnish with some flat leaf parsley. Yum!