Food for Thought: MY POV on Vegetarianism and a review of Vegan Pudding & Co

A great pudding cup.

Bet you can’t tell it’s vegan. 
It is just plain good.
For January 1stand Chinese New Year, I usually go meat free.  I like the idea of starting the year without kill something and having blood on your hands.  Granted, I’m sure the meat at the grocery store was killed many days ago.
Personally, it’s not a big deal to have additional vegetarian/vegan meals here or there throughout the year.  Sometimes it’s just nice to mix it up and there are so many tasty meat free dishes out there, such as:
  • deep fried tofu with spicy salt
  • chana masala
  • mujadarah
  • falafel

As a result, it amuses greatly when people make a huge fuss about going meatless.  They need things like healthy reasons, ideology and hashtags like #meatlessmonday to justify their eating choices. 
I get it – in the USA and Canada, vegetarian eating is just not part of the norm.  In contrast, due to religious and economic reasons, going meatless is just part of the routine in many Asian countries. 
Also, it doesn’t help when the American food industry thinks in order to cater to vegetarians you need to process veggies so they don’t taste like themselves but instead to taste like meat. 
This is a fail waiting to happen for those who want to embark on their meat free journey.  Faux meat never tastes good because it can never replicate the real deal.  The crappy tasting fake meat just ends up turning people off being vegetarian.
Thankfully I think more people are starting to understand going meatless can be painless and delicious.  The key is to cook veggies, grains, and lentils to their potential and not try to turn them into something they are not.

 

 
So when I spotted a little tucked away shop selling vegan pudding, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a faux meat disaster waiting to happen or a hidden gem.
I was optimistically leaning towards hidden gem when I realized there was an Asian theme with the flavours available and the Vegan Pudding & Co’s owner is Japanese.
Traditionally pudding contains cream/milk and eggs, which help with taste, consistency and texture; basically why good puddings are thick, creamy, and silky.  Over the course of 4 weeks, I tried 3 of the flavours available: original, green tea and roasted black sesame.
With the original I got the caramel sauce as well.  Digging in, the consistency of the pudding was pretty stiff.  I would argue the vegan pudding is more soft set custard flan than thick-ish liquid-y pudding. 
 
With the first bite, I got a strong taste of creamy coconut, which was quite enjoyable.  After a while, the coconut flavour becomes less in your face.  The original vegan pudding is just sweet without any other complexities.  The only thing I found a bit off putting was there was peculiar aftertaste.  It reminds me of coconut water and creates a watery finish to the bite of pudding. 

 

 
 The sweet caramel sauce that I upgraded for, did hide that odd aftertaste somewhat so as long as my pudding had some of the caramel sauce I was happy. 
Overall I was pleased with the vegan pudding and impressed that even with the absence of milk and eggs, the pudding was somewhat rich and smooth.

 

 
On my next visit, I opted for the matcha flavour without sauce.  The matcha had the exact same consistency and texture as the original.  In terms of taste, that strong coconut presence is still there but is augmented with a subtle hint of green tea.   The matcha flavour also diminished the odd aftertaste. 

 

 
Lastly, the roasted black sesame was my favourite out of the three flavours I tried. The charcoal coloured pudding still had that strong initial hit of coconut but it was temper with an equal strong hit of black sesame seed.  This pudding had the most complex flavour, nutty, sweet and aromatic, with a smoother finish.
I understand the vegan aspect is a big selling point for them in health conscious Vancouver but is it really necessarily if the product is just yummy?  Vegan Pudding & Co creates a tasty, rich, silky, Asian flavoured custards without assists from dairy and egg products.  They are a nice sweet to add to lunch or as just a snack. 
Vegan Pudding & Co.
422 Richards Street
Vancouver, BC
Instagram:vegan_pudding_co
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