**UPDATE April 2022**
Sadly, Vegandale is no more 🙁
Bar Vegandale and the Imperative will be closing and the Danish Bakery has new owners.
Vegandale Toronto is complicated. The term Vegandale has a lot of people confused about what it is actually about so let me try to explain it in simple terms. Vegandale is both a business and an area of Toronto….kind of. I think we need to dig a little deeper though so let’s get to it shall we.
What is Vegandale?
On the official website it is stated that Vegandale is “…a mecca for the ethically minded, with the best vegan food, goods, and services co-existing on one city block.” The area that they are speaking of is located on Queen St W, between Dufferin and Brock.
So, with these words one could assume that Vegandale is a physical location within Toronto, a district similar to Chinatown, Little Italy, or the Financial District right? Well, it isn’t really, because it is not an official district of Toronto.
Okay, so if it’s not a district of Toronto then what is it? To answer this we need to look into the shops that are located on Vegandales website, which are:
Originally there were 5 business fronts and that is a lot of vegan places to all be situated within one city block and it didn’t happen by accident. All of the shops listed above are owned by the same company – the 5700 . The term Vegandale began in 2016 with the opening of the Las Angelas resto, Dommie’s, which is now located at 1346 Queen West. Since then it expanded to five storefronts and has caused some controversy along the way. The 5700 also took over Toronto’s Vegan Food and Drink festival in 2018 and rebranded it now The Vegandale Festival.
Vegandale Toronto Controversy
After the opening of Doomie’s, the 5700 opened two more shops, The Imperative and Mythology Diner in 2017 with no big splash behind it. But the controversy came along in early 2018 when the 5700 announced that they wanted to open five new shops to the block. They also had a media release that stated “Toronto’s fastest growing vegan company, the 5700 Inc., is transforming Parkdale into Vegandale”. This ruffled some feathers within the Parkdale community (an official district) and the unrest was building. There were also claims made that the 5700 didn’t prioritize the welfare of the neighbourhood and could be accelerating gentrification in the area.
Later, the 5700 came out and officially clarified that they were only referencing the five businesses that they operate when they made that claim and that they were not looking to rebrand the neighbourhood at large. Some still felt that this was the company’s true aim however. People were also upset about the in-your-face branding that these companies would utilize with their “aggressive slogans”. Other’s claimed that people were only upset because they have a bias against vegans and if it were another group opening up shops there wouldn’t be the same uproar. The controversy continues with the opening of Parkdale Pizza because some were suspicious that this was yet another company owned by the 5700. It didn’t matter that they displayed anti Vegandale slogans and in fact is not a vegan restaurant.
Vegandale – A summary
To be clear, Vegandale is a brand. It is a brand that is operated by a company called the 5700. This company owns and operates 3 shops on Queen West and a food festival. It is not a district of Toronto, although I’m sure they would like it to be, and it is not one single shop.
I personally really like the idea of a district of Toronto that has a focus on plant based stores/events and tip my hat to the 5700’s effort on this. Would I want this district to takeover the place of another, older one and to be run by one company? No, not ideally. But maybe it’s a start. Maybe Vegandale doesn’t have to takeover Parkdale but can co-exist and become a subsection. Also, maybe more establishments that support plant based living can open their doors and offer some more variety. What are your thoughts? Do you like the idea of a plant based community located in one area of Toronto? Leave a comment below and let us know.
** Recent News** I attended the 2021 Vegandale Food Festival and it was amazing! Here is a small video I made for my Instagram page.