It’s a blistering cold February day, but Veg-In YYC is heating up in preparation for their lunch rush. Veg-In YYC is a new vegan and vegetarian take-out cafe offering a unique blend of meatless meals from samosa poutine to naan flatbreads, with a variety of toppings like potato, cauliflower and house sauce.
Owner Sehra Bindal moved to Canada from India roughly 22 years ago and founded the restaurant after realizing veganism needed more outlets in the city. Bindal has been a vegetarian for most of her life and has owned other restaurants in the past. She says she’s thankful to be in Calgary and describes the city as an amazing place for her business.
“People are so receptive and so supportive to small businesses — I’m very happy. I have met amazing people, and Calgary, people are very tolerant. They will wait in the lunch rush and they are so kind. They never get mad and I love them,” says Bindal.
According to Bindal many people in India are vegans, but don’t identify with the diet because it is not unusual to eat a plant-based diet there.
Bindal recently closed Veg-In YYC’s doors to reconfigure the menu and create new items that are uniquely hers.
“Vegetarians already have lots of options, so I learnt more. I was learning and I’m still learning,”says Bindal. “It’s less of a business and more of a passion because my husband supports it a lot, so I’m very thankful for his support.”
One challenge that’s come with opening her restaurant, is finding the right staff members who understand her passion for food and the readiness to alter and come up with new ideas for the menu.
Veg-In YYC employee Ace Zen has been working for Bindal since the restaurant’s establishment. Zen says she enjoys working at Veg-In YYC and that her palate has been broadened since she began working at the restaurant, “she really educates us on what everything that she makes [is] — so it’s a really nice relationship. She’s still like a teacher so I learn a lot of things about healthy foods.”
Samosas are Bindal’s guilty pleasure and she integrates them into her menu because they can be put on anything from burgers, to flatbread or on wraps. Out of all of the samosa items on the menu, Bindal says her favourite is the samosa poutine.
“A samosa is just a samosa, but then the sauce that we make here, it’s like a butter chicken sauce but it’s a coconut based sauce, there’s no butter, there’s no chicken,” Bindal says.
Veg-In YYC will be participating in the 2017 poutine week taking place in April around Calgary.
- By Anna Junker and Logan Peters