Cat cafe owner dishes on vegan options for the holidays

Christmas celebrations often come with family traditions of festive meals. But some of the can’t-miss dishes can’t be enjoyed by everyone. That's where the founder of VegaBoo Cat Haven cafe may be able to help.

Saskatchewan's first cat cafe has entirely vegan menu

VeganBoo Cat Haven owner Alex Baylak says there are lots of options for making your Christmas dinner vegan-friendly this year. (cbc)

Christmas celebrations often come with family traditions of festive meals. But some of the can't-miss dishes can't be enjoyed by everyone.

That's where Alex Baylak may be able to help. She's the founder of VegaBoo Cat Haven cafe, Saskatchewan's first cat cafe. Her cat cafe also happens to have an entirely vegan menu.

The name VegaBoo comes from a combining the word vegan with the name of Baylak's cat Boo.

She spoke with Shauna Powers from CBC Radio One's Saskatchewan Weekend on how you can create festive meals everyone can enjoy — including vegetarians and vegans.

VegaBoo Cat Haven is Saskatchewan's first cat cafe to open its doors. (Samanda Brace/CBC)

"Christmas does revolve a lot around food, so it's really nice to kind of bring my own spin onto it," said Baylak.

Baylak said for the traditional Christmas turkey, there are lots of options to make something everyone can eat.

"There's actually an option called Tofurky that you can actually buy or it's something you can kind of make yourself," said Baylak.

Creative cooks can also change it up from tradition, and choose to have something like a casserole as the star of the show for Christmas dinner.

"There's so many options with casseroles. That's kind of the great thing about it is you can kind of make it your own, and there's so many things depending on your preferences," said Baylak.

Baylak's own family is Ukrainian, so she has created vegan versions of Ukrainian classics for her family's holiday meal. 

Baylak said since her family is Ukrainian, she often incorporates vegan versions of the classic dishes into her holiday meal. (Submitted by Alex Baylak)

Vegan substitutes

But you don't have to toy with tradition for all your dishes. Baylak said there are substitutes for things like milk, butter and eggs that can make many dishes vegan.

For butter, vegan margarine is an easy option. For eggs, Baylak says aquafaba does a fantastic job as a replacement.

"That's basically the liquid that comes out of chickpea cans and stuff," said Baylak, adding that it can come as a powder as well.

For milk, there's always the dairy alternatives like almond, coconut or soy milk.

When it comes to dessert, you can use many of these substitutes to make your traditional pies vegan.

Baylak also recommends coconut cream to bring vegan-friendly richness to creamy Christmas desserts.

Baylak says there are lots of substitutes that can be used to make vegan desserts like these. (Submitted by Alex Baylak)

Baylak recommends research for the wary

For even the most petrified cook, Baylak said the internet is a wonderful thing for finding user-friendly recipes.

"Vegan is something that's becoming more and more accessible. It's something that's becoming trending, so there's more and more recipes out there, which is nice," she said.

"Just using the resources that you have available to you makes it a lot easier to kind of find those alternatives and prepare something for your family."

With files from CBC Radio One's Saskatchewan Weekend