The restaurant industry in Edmonton is constantly evolving and the vegan sector appears to be thriving too, with the addition of several new plant-based restaurants.
Opened over the weekend, Kanu Café on Jasper Avenue is the brainchild of celebrity chef Matthew Kenney, whose operations are 100 per cent plant-based. The café is his first restaurant in Canada.
“As long as we can source really good ingredients, there’s a passionate community for plant-based and we have partners who are dedicated to doing something amazing,” he said about choosing Edmonton.
“We discovered, surprisingly, there were a lot more vegan options here than we understood,” Kenney added. “It just felt like there was room in the market for something like this.”
Kanu Café joins recent additions such as Cinnaholic, a vegan cinnamon bun store, and Die Pie, a vegan pizza restaurant.
“What I’m seeing here is not inconsistent with what’s going on all over the world,” Kenney said.
“We opened a restaurant in Bogota, Colombia, which is traditionally not vegan-friendly at all. We’re also opening in Buenos Aires, which is steak-friendly, and the communities there are growing so fast because of the global movement toward accepting plants as an alternative meal.”
A recent Dalhousie University survey found roughly 10 per cent of Canadians are either vegan or vegetarian. While that number has likely been steady for the last decade, it seems the restaurant industry is now catching on.
A&W released a 100 per cent plant-based burger this past summer; it sold out within weeks. The fast food chain announced the plant-based burger will now be a permanent menu item on Oct. 1.
NAIT also recently opened a vegan campus food outlet and is offering students and staff plant-based meal options every day.
Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant has been in Edmonton for 15 years. Manager Maya Paramithi said many people are seeking vegan options as they would ethnic cuisines.
“Now being plant-based is so much easier,” she said. “It’s not that thing that’s weird anymore.”
“A family can just go and enjoy their meal without feeling like, ‘I don’t just want to eat bowls of salad. I don’t just want to eat chickpeas.’ Restaurants now are definitely more innovative in terms of their recipes.”
Sa-Auset Tauwieret is an omnivore and frequents Padmanadi one to three times per month.
“I will enjoy vegan, vegetarian food very regularly because I think it’s important to take a break from meat,” she said.
“I’ll do a Google search for vegetarian restaurants because, like I said, at least once a week we’re strictly eating vegetarian food all day.”