One of the first things that nearly every American asks me about or rather comments on is how medical is “way cheaper” in Canada. I’m going to burst that bubble for you right here right now. Our taxes are higher, hospital and clinic waits are longer and private medical bills are gigantic– never mind asking about the cost of prescriptions. What does this matter to Veganism you ask? This fact pretty much paints a picture of what it’s really like to be Canadian – lowest of the low on the free trade totem pole but somehow we’ve managed to make everyone believe we’ve got it going on.
I’m going to let you know a few key details to back up my claims. I’m from Vancouver, lived in Calgary and Halifax, stayed in almost all Provinces and major cities, drove 3 weeks clear across Canada. I have traveled to about 50% of America’s states and live in Pittsburgh, PA as a Vegan Fitness Pro. With that being said, here are the five undeniable ways that traveling and living in the United States as a Vegan kicks ass over Canada.
1. You don’t have to cook all your own protein from scratch
You can find plant-based food (for better or for worse) almost anywhere in America. From Giant Eagle in Pennsylvania to Whole Foods in California to Publix in Florida and every Traders Joes in between, most states seem to have a “regular” grocer that has a frozen and refrigerated aisle with at least a small showing of vegan and vegetarian items from microwaveable to baked goods to ethnic all-in-one dishes. You’ll actually never starve if you’re near a decent amount of infrastructure. In Canada, you’re lucky if you can smuggle a few Tofurky products out of Safeway or Save-On-Foods. You can visit a specialty health food type grocer and spend 25% more than the products are actually worth if you want variety beyond Yves veggie ground rounds or sub-par tempeh.
In America we have access to large-scale vegan food manufacturers from all over the continent as well as overseas. Gardein, MorningStar, Beyond, Nates, Soymage and a host of small time guys I’ve never heard of. There are soy, wheat and vegetable based proteins a Canadian could never try in the Motherland because choices are limited to one or two producers. I find myself procuring items I’d never consider eating just to see how they taste. Pushing my shopping cart in a frenzy, like a kid in a Stevia-based candy shop skipping down the frozen food aisle going “look look look” to my poor underwhelmed husband. Not that I’m a huge supporter but take a look at what Wal-Mart USA sells for Vegan goods HERE.
3. Consideration of diet restrictions
While this isn’t as widespread as it could be, certain states are absolutely fabulous at putting together menu options for Vegans, Vegetarians and Gluten Intolerant folks. I’m tipping my hat in the particular direction of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York. If you don’t see something on the menu odds are restaurants will accommodate any request for a creative one-off meal sans flesh. Even in large Canadian cities like Calgary, Alberta herbivorous diners will continuously suffer through meals of lettuce and vinegar while Omni’s gnaw on the gigantic array of bovine and poultry available. Long story short, there’s more culture and creativity where food prep is concerned. I’ll go one step further to let you know that there is an actual dog patio at an Omni restaurant in Pittsburgh with a full two page vegan menu. Read ’em and weep Canadian Food Inspection Agency, there is a fair and wonderful workaround for this stuff, lets be creative.
4. Actual Vegan Restaurants
Apparenlty it’s fun for Canadian restaurants to sign up for Yelp and click the Vegan and Vegetarian option descriptors for sport. All to once again offer lettuce and vinegar or pizza as plant-based options to unassuming Canuck patrons. Neat, I’m sure that doesn’t get old at all, right? While this still does happen in the US the odds that a diner will find dedicated or partially dedicated plant powered kitchens, that actually design macronutrient based menu items including protein, are far higher.
Holy mother of mothers just like Netflix in Canada being a useless shadow of Netflix US, so is Amazon north of 49. Where the flag is star-spangled, consumers can have delivered bulk amounts of vegan supplements, kitchen staples, and medicinals at a fraction of the cost all while sitting in their offices and actually getting work done instead of running to 10 different stores to hunt down cruelty-free items. Shoppers could save at least 5 hours per week and $500 per month buying on Amazon.com. Just don’t get too carried away buying a 50-pound bag of vital wheat gluten as a reasonable kitchen necessity. Hail Seitan?
It’s not that Canada isn’t awesome because believe me there are people and places there that will knock your socks off. However, when it comes to accessing the basics as a health conscious person who takes matters of nutrition and quality food very seriously there is simply no matching the good old U.S. of A. Some folks might brag on Canada’s freedoms, politeness and overall better quality of life but this Vegan has to disagree in all categories. If you’re relocating to the US as a plant powered person you will have absolutely no reason to ever eat anything but the best food available ever again.