People can sometimes be dismissive about vegan food — but add “dessert” to the conversation and everything changes.
That’s what Hayley Ingman, co-founder and chair of Earthsave Whistler, discovered when she started planning the Devilishly Decadent Vegan Dessert Challenge. “The other day I took posters to people who are not vegan and they said, ‘oh vegan dessert!’ Their faces lit up,” she said. “You don’t usually get that with vegan, but with dessert…”
As part of the event, chefs from seven Whistler restaurants have created a vegan dessert that will be on their menus from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14. During that time, locals are encouraged to try each of the treats and cast their votes in three categories: “most decadent,” “most creative” and “best overall.”
The goal, Ignman said, is to show people just how tasty food without animal products in it can be. “When people think of vegan they think of kale and quinoa — not that that’s not delicious,” she said. “I think it’s just getting people to open their eyes to the opportunities with vegan food and starting a conversation.”
Participating restaurants include Stonesedge Kitchen, Alta Bistro, Cure Lounge at Nita Lake Lodge, Milestones, Olives Community Market, The Green Moustache and Cinnamon Bear Bar & Grille. The list of treats they’re making are elaborate and run the gamut from “bitter chocolate lava cake with caramel sauce” to “vegan pumpkin spice crème brulee” and “s’mores vegan cheesecake in a jar,” to name just a few.
While restaurants like the Green Moustache and even Alta Bistro might have been obvious participants (Ingman said she had had an amazing vegan dessert at the latter during a Christmas party at the restaurant), she said she was happy to see more mainstream restaurants enthusiastically jump on board too.
“Milestones and Cinnamon Bear, they responded to my email and they were both really keen — Cure Lounge too,” she said. “I was really excited it didn’t take a lot to get those guys on board.”
While she purposely picked the shoulder season — when restaurants are less busy — for the event, she discovered that a lot of chefs are on holidays in November. “We had some restaurants say, ‘we would’ve done it, but our chef’s away!’ I didn’t expect everyone to jump on it,” she said.
Still, visiting seven restaurants in two weeks is a daunting task. To that end, Ingman said a group from Earthsave is planning a vegan dessert crawl to tackle a few in one night.
“Even if you’re not vegan, we want people to come and try it,” she said. “This is something everybody can enjoy.”
To check out the desserts on offer and learn more about how to vote for your favourites visit earthsavewhistler.com/vegandessertchallenge.
As part of World Vegan Month — which takes place in November — Earthsave is also screening the film Eating You Alive at the Whistler Public Library on Tuesday (Nov. 1) at 7 p.m. The film examines the link between food and health.