By Barbi Lazarus, Donor and Volunteer Resources Coordinator
For a lot of people making the journey from omnivore to vegan, the last animal product they stop eating is cheese. Numerous people have written about it’s addictive qualities and whether you believe that’s true or not, for whatever reason many people love the taste of cow’s cheese and keep eating it long after they’ve stopped eating meat or eggs.
Fortunately in today’s world, or at least in today’s Toronto, if giving up cheese pizza is your only obstacle to going vegan it’s a piece of cake (or a slice of pizza). This Saturday has apparently been declared Vegan Pizza Day (join the Facebook event here) and there is absolutely no shortage of places to go or order in from if you want to join in the fun and celebrate.
That’s because vegan pizza options have been growing in Toronto for years, and have especially exploded in the last 18 months.
It all started over a decade ago when Amato’s began selling vegan slices. Well before the days of Daiya Cheese, they simply omitted the cheese but not the flavour, and to this day they sell their vegan slice topped with peppers, mushrooms and olives.
Magic Oven is another great spot that’s been a staple in Toronto for years, offering a wide selection of vegan pizzas including ones topped with tandoori-spiced sweet potato, pineapple or magic pesto (not all at once of course!). Their menu offers not just vegan pizzas but also plenty of other vegetarian options like pastas and samosas, and they give TVA members 10% off too!
Next came Pizzaiolo, which for many years offered three vegan slices, also sans cheese. They were perhaps most famous for their unique pizza topped with potatoes and rosemary.
But a few years ago they started it all when they began offering Daiya’s dairy-free “cheese” on any pizza you chose to order! At the time they certainly had several locations, but now they’re practically on every other corner meaning no matter where you live in the city you are likely not far from a vegan pizza option.
Next we started hearing about independent, local pizzarias that were catching on, including Pizza By the Slice on Roncesvalles and Pizza Famosa in the Annex, both which offer vegan pizzas topped with Daiya Cheese (psst: Pizza by the Slice has vegan wings too!). Pizza Rustica near the entertainment district soon followed, with really unique items like a vegan Mexican pizza topped with not only Daiya Cheese but also avocado, veggie chorizo and corn!
Then something extraordinary happened: Mamma’s Pizza announced they too, were offering Daiya Cheese on any of their pizzas, as well as adding three vegan pizzas to their standard menu. Hold the phone! This was when we knew veganism was really taking off and going mainstream. A major chain like Mamma’s Pizza obviously saw the value in these offerings and felt there was a large enough demand in the consumer market. If you are looking for a classic pizza that tastes like “the real thing”, doused with “cheese” that’s stretchy and gooey, this is the place for you.
By this point, we thought it couldn’t get any better. It literally seemed that you would need to go no further than a few blocks to find yourself a place that sells vegan pizza. But then we heard another local restaurant North of Brooklyn was also beginning to offer Daiya-topped pizza.
And the latest? Just last week we confirmed that Panago Pizza, another major chain, is also giving customers the option to order pizzas not only with vegan cheese but also veggie pepperoni! Yes, you read that correctly. You can be vegan, and you can order yourself a pepperoni pizza.
It seems then if there’s anything at all challenging about taking part in Vegan Pizza Day this Saturday, it’s simply deciding where to order from!