On Sunday my partner and I visited the East African Restaurant to try out their all-you-can-eat vegetarian (actually, vegan) Ethiopian buffet. We were going for a long hike after, and wanted something that would give us a lasting source of energy.
For $8.99 per person, you really can’t go wrong. The buffet features a half dozen hot dishes, mostly lentils and vegetables in sauce ranging from mild to very spicy, as well as a few cold options. There was no shortage of injera. I filled my plate twice.
Only one of the options at the buffet is on the restaurant’s usual vegetarian platter, and I’ll admit that I missed the other two. But there were new options I’d never tried, including spiced zucchini, which was delicious.
The buffet runs seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. While NCVA members have a 10 per cent discount here, it does not apply to the buffet. But if you’re looking to fill up on the cheap, this is a good way to do it. We followed our meal with a two hour hike on some of Gatineau Park’s toughest trails, and were still satiated five hours later.
NCVA membership just got sweeter, when Ottawa’s beloved Auntie Loo announced that she wanted to show NCVA members some love with a 10 per cent discount. The discount applies to anything purchased at her store front (507 Bronson Avenue) or ordered, except for wedding cakes.
Auntie Loo is a great example of a home-grown, vegan business. She even recently won “Best Bakery” recognition in Capital XPress, as voted by readers. Here’s a story we published about her in our most recent newsletter, Capital Veg News:
Made locally, with love, at Auntie Loos
By Pamela Eadie
There’s nothing quite like fresh, made with love baked goods. And nobody knows that better than Amanda Lunan, more commonly known as Ottawa’s “Auntie Loo.”
While her baked goods have been available at Ottawa area natural food stores for several years now, Auntie Loo opened her storefront one year ago, much to the delight of vegans and cupcake enthusiasts. It was the culmination of many years of hard work and perseverance.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was in a band and working at a coffee shop. I would make these cakes for my friends, and someone told me I could make a lot of money selling them,” Auntie Loo explains.
“But I figured nobody would want my crappy cake.”
Was she ever wrong. The same friend talked her into selling her creations at a Ladyfest Craft sale in 2004. She was a hit. Inspired, she completed a small business diploma program at Algonquin College, and joined the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which gives young people a salary while they get their business started.
She baked her heart out while renting space at a bakery that was closed overnight. Fellow vegan baking aficionado, Brad Campeau of B.Goods cookies, mentored her. She built a loyal following through LadyFest and other events, and by having her goods in health food stores.
But then the Youth Entrepreneurship Program ran out, and she was at a crossroads. “It was do or die,” she says. With help from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, she was able to find and rent her own retail location, on Bronson Avenue.
She’s also expanded her wedding cake business, with help from her “right hand man” Kate Veinot. Auntie Loos currently has two part time employees, and two volunteer pastry students from Algonquin College.
Her repertoire of treats is constantly changing with the seasons, but the one constant is that they’re always vegan. There are also soy-free and gluten-free options. Treats include a wide variety of cupcakes, squares, pastries, brownies, and cakes. She caters special events and welcomes special orders.
“I never expected a response from the community like this. It’s been awesome,” Auntie Loo says. “People like to come in and see where the food is coming from. It’s important to me to be really transparent.” Auntie Loos uses organic products whenever possible, and works with and purchases from small local businesses.
Most of her clients are not vegan, but, “when they’re buying a cupcake from me, they’re not buying one that has animal products. Most people who come in don’t care. They just like that it tastes good.”
Her love of animals has inspired her along the way. “I really love animals. The reason I went vegetarian was because a cow truck passed me on the highway when I was five years old. That’s when I realized how meat was made,” she says. She’s been vegan for more than 10 years.
These days, she’s at the forefront of Ottawa’s burgeoning vegan community. “It’s my contribution,” she says. “I just think it’s important that people make informed choices.”
The NCVA is small, but mighty: In 2009 and 2010 we put on two Veg Fest events at Ottawa’s Glebe Community Centre, which attracted a combined 4,000 attendees! Pretty amazing for a tiny, 100% volunteer-run organization.
Each Veg Fest (title sponsored by The Table Vegetarian Restaurant: http://www.thetablerestaurant.com) featured roughly 30 exhibitors, three food demonstrators, and three guest speakers. A silent auction raised funds for the NCVA. Other sponsors have included ZenKitchen, Green Earth Vegetarian Restaurant, Rainbow Natural Foods, and Market Organics.
Our guest speakers have included high profile names including Brenda Davis, RD (www.brendadavisrd.com), Jae Steele (www.getitripe.com), Gene Baur (www.farmsanctuary.org), and Dr. Michael Greger (www.drgreger.org).
We are currently sorting out the details for Veg Fest ’11. Stay tuned for more information!
The past couple of years have seen an impressive growth in vegan products, services, and restaurants in the Ottawa region. In this blog, we hope to provide a one-stop resource of all things veg in the nation’s capital.
The National Capital Vegetarian Association (NCVA) is a non-profit, membership-based organization committed to educating the public about the health benefits of eating plant-based foods, and improving the social infrastructure in support of this lifestyle.
The NCVA is working to create an environment within which everyone has the knowledge and ability to take control of their own health, prevent health problems from occurring, and live healthier lifestyles overall.
The NCVA offers a range of social events, participates at fairs and expos, produces educational resources, and works with businesses to make life easier for you.
It is funded solely by donations and partnerships and operated entirely by volunteers.
Disclaimer: We will make every effort to ensure we provide accurate information, but this blog for informational purposes only. The NCVA does not explicitly endorse specific products or services, nor is it responsible for guaranteeing their vegan-ness. Always use your own discretion!