I've never been a big meat eater, just not my thing. I always preferred seconds of veggies or potatoes, which was probably a good thing as I was surrounded by them growing up on a fairly large vegetable farm on the Holland Marsh. At the same time, I've always been very much an animal lover and overly sensitive when it comes to their treatment, so again it's lucky I grew where I did, and not on a live stock farm. So it only seems natural that I might be drawn to a vegetarian life style.
My first foray into meatless living began about 1992. I was married and had 2 small boys. They, and their father, ate what you might call 'normal' food and I ate everything but meat. My intentions were good, but I must admit I was clueless about what I should be feeding myself in the way of protein. This vegetarian experiment ended in mid 1993 when I was expecting my third son. I knew that I was likely not getting all the nutrition I should be getting, and I didn't want my baby to suffer because of it.
This past fall, nearly 20 years later, the timing was right once again to see if I could follow a vegetarian diet successfully. All the hullabaloo about tainted beef from western Canada and horse meat secretly added to meatballs in the UK pushed me to my personal limit with the meat industry and my quickly waning trust in it. Since my last meatless adventure, so much has changed! The internet has opened has opened up unlimited access to recipes, restaurant listings, shopping, websites offering information, support and advice. Grocery stores now carry an ever expanding array of vegetarian and vegan food items. Restaurants are much more accommodating to meat free diners today. The chances of choosing to eat vegan or vegetarian in a healthy and flavourful way are much increased since my first dabble.
Enter Rawlicious Barrie. Located at 50 Dunlop St. E., which once housed a Second Cup location as you might recall, this small bee hive of activity is the hub of a constantly growing movement towards healthy eating in Barrie. The company website http://rawlicious.ca/canada/ says "Raw, vegan & organic restaurants helping you feel good about what you eat." and Rawlicious Barrie certainly is that.
Until recently, I had never been inside Rawlicious Barrie and only knew of it by name. While planning a culinary tour in the downtown area, Rawlicious Barrie's owner Jessica Valiant was quick to jump on board with the idea and extremely enthusiastic about spreading the word about her unique cuisine to more Barrie-ites. Her little eatery is decorated in warm Mediterranean tones, with modern meets cottagey, including tables and cupboards made from reclaimed furniture painted off white. From what I saw, her clientele is a happy mixture of obviously health conscious retirees, well informed young professionals and what my kids would call hipsters. And I must point out too that Jessica is probably one of the healthiest human beings I have ever seen!
On May 8th, Rawlicious Barrie was the second stop on a 4 restaurant food adventure through downtown Barrie. Some of the 15 food tourists had been in before, but most had not. Jessica quickly, knowledgeably and passionately explained her vision and her menu offerings to us, as I'm sure she does very often given that her cuisine is so new to many of us and perhaps even a little scary to some. Most of us were raised to believe that every meal has to be built around a steak or a porch chop, so it's an entirely new concept to many.
Jessica is a registered holistic nutritionist and sure knows her stuff! Before we were presented with our meal of zucchini 'noodles' with green pesto sauce, she explained how the noodles weren't pasta at all but spiralled vegetables made by using a very cool, unique machine called a spiralizer. Check it out at amazon.com or Jessica has them for sale too. What a great idea for those watching their carb intake too.
I have not yet had the opportunity to eat a full meal at Rawlicious Barrie, but I certainly intend to. I have already scanned the menu and I'm pretty sure I would try the pad thai and sample an organic beer, but I might have a really difficult time with the dessert menu decisions - carrot cake, cheese cake and key lime tart!
I cannot ever remember eating at a restaurant where the owner cares so much much about the well being of her customers. I'm not ready to embrace a full on raw food diet, nor am I a true vegan either, but it's good to know that there are options for diners in Barrie who want to pursue this way of life and be so well cared for and catered to by Jessica and her wonderful staff at Rawlicious Barrie.
Want to learn more? Here's a very informative interview with Jessica from GoodLife Magazine Want to really learn about Rawlicious Barrie? Drop in!