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Melissa Balfour's idea of a fancy dinner doesn't include veggie burgers. But that's often the only choice on the menu for Balfour, a vegetarian for 14 years and a vegan since earlier last year, when she goes out to local restaurants to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.
She's trying to change that. And maybe make New Westminster a culinary destination for vegans from all over.
Already her inquiries have inspired two local restaurants to expand their menu options for vegans.
"All you have to do as an individual is ask," says Balfour. "It's relatively easy to have a meat-free meal."
And with the growing awareness about food allergies and healthier eating, it's in restauranteurs' best interests to create vegan dishes.
To highlight New Westminster's vegan potential, Balfour recently organized a four-hour bike tour that included stops at a half dozen vegan-friendly establishments including Coming Home café, Pacific Breeze Winery and Karmavore vegan specialty shop on Columbia Street. The tour sold out its 10 spots before she even had a chance to put up posters advertising it.
That success is inspiring her to organize more such events, and emboldening her to approach even more restaurants.
"It's a fun way to be involved with food activism," says Balfour. "We have so much in this city to offer vegans."
For more about about Balfour's vegan project, go to www.thehungrytaurus.com.
Creamy Cashew Artichoke Dip
1 cup Cashews
1 can Artichokes
1 Garlic Glove
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Tahini
½ cup of non dairy milk
pinch of salt
Mix of dried herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, marjoram about a tbsp full.
½ cup of Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
Soak cashews in water for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain cashews and add them to a food processor. Pulse into cashews are finely ground and “creamy”. Add artichokes and garlic clove. Plus until well mixed. Add the olive oil, tahini, non dairy milk, salt, herbs and pulse again until all is mixed.
Pour mixture into an oven proof bowl. Fold in Daiya Mozzarella shreds. Bake in the oven for half an hour and enjoy! Scoop up the dip with a lovely baguette or tortilla chips.