It's funny. With all the Torontomania of the last few years, the endless neurotic crunch of overdevelopment and seemingly intentional relocation of the suburbs into the city, I find myself increasingly bored to shit with the predictability of things downtown and have been driven to exploring in the other direction, actually going into the burbs to see what's still worth finding - who knew? And being rewarded with the discovery of some great thrift, antique and record stores that may not be doing shit-hot but are comparatively unmolested and still kicking a few years since all the ones in the city have either been pushed out by condos and sky-high rents, or become stupidly fetishized and overblown for what they are (seriously, every jackass with two Captain & Tennille LPs to rub together acting like they're sitting on a goldmine? It's getting a little fucking old). Anyway, that's another rant.
Long story short, we stumbled on the holy grail of cheap vegan groceries, just 15 minutes away. Grants, an EPIC Chinese grocery store on Dixie Road in Mississauga:
What the shit this all has to do with Ulysses S Grant, I don't know. He helped abolish slavery and now he is abolishing me from slavery to Whole Foods and new age ripoff health food chains? I think that's it. Honestly, most Chinese grocery stores have a lot of this stuff, but this one beats the hell out of even the ones in Chinatown.
It's HUGE! If you're into switching up your veggies, take Korabi (aka Kohlrabi), celery root or Jicama for a spin. There's a way wider variety of greens than you'd usually get too. The catch is, everything here is really, really cheap. Which is how it should be. If meat is historically the commodity, then vegan food by default should be cheap. Needless to say, as of the last few years, it's just become another greenwashed ripoff, a specialty food which then ends up costing more. I mean, as a vegan, I'm glad that mainstream companies have had to cater to it (see: Soymilk made by milk companies or veggie burgers made by meat companies), that's a good sign of where consumer demand is at. When I was growing up, you'd be lucky to find tofu dogs at a grocery store. Now you can get any vegan version of anything, which makes it a lot easier for the average uninitiated person to make the transition or try it out. You just don't need to stay there. I don't go out of my way to eat much soy these days, or glutenous fake meats. But once in a while, like when you stumble on this...
...you kinda need to go to town on it!
Most of the foods here have only a few ingredients, compared to western style fake meats. I spent the summer of 2000 in Hong Kong while studying Chinese in school, and I was quickly dispossessed of the idea that tofu was an exclusively vegetarian thing. It's really just cheap protein, and will often have shredded pork in it or anything else in it. Note to vegan travelers to China - find the Buddhist places. That's the only shit that's 100% on-purpose animal free (and garlic and onion-free too - you know it incites the senses, you dirty dog). I lucked out and found one place down the street from the dorm I was in, and just went there every day all summer. Let me tell you, friend - there were some farts.
All these vegan goodies, and nary a stick insect-lookin' yuppie chick with a yoga mat in sight! Whaaaaat? Explore your local Chinatown!
Happy Fart Date, Yang Gui Zi.