Since going vegetarian and subsequently vegan in 2011 I haven’t really had too many cravings for non-vegan food. I very much went into the lifestyle with the intention to eat whole-foods, grains, legumes, and tons of vegetables. Not only did I notice an immediate change in mood, but also a change in my body. It took me about a year to completely kick dairy from my diet, but that actually happened to be the most noticeable change.
Previous to going vegan I, like most young girls, struggled with body image issues. I had horrible eating habits. I would starve myself all day, and binge eat junk food at night. I was constantly tired, sluggish, and oh so moody. Once I switched over to a whole-foods plant based diet those things completely changed. I felt light after eating instead of weighed down, and that made me want to continue to eat this way. I was really strict at first only eating fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and tofu.
I didn’t really want or desire junk food anymore. But then I discovered a Toronto vegan staple, and all of that changed. Well, okay, not really. But I am no longer as strict as I was in the beginning.
The Hogtown Vegan is a staple restaurant in the city. Beloved by vegans and non-vegans alike. They serve up comfort food classics like philly cheesesteaks, poutine, nachos, cheeseburgers and fries, and my personal favourite: mac and cheese.
I’ve had plenty of vegan mac and cheese since I cut dairy from my diet, but the majority of it was just ok. Hogtown’s mac and cheese is great because it doesn’t taste any different from the creamy, dreamy mac and cheese I remember from my childhood.
Unlike cashew or potato-based vegan cheeses (yes, that’s a thing) it’s smooth and velvety, and doesn’t have an overbearing waxy or starchy mouth feel. I’ve eaten a lot of vegan mac and cheese around Toronto over the past 6+ years, from Doomies, to The Beet, to Bobby Sue’s and it’s hands down my favourite of them all.
But one thing about Hogtown is that unless you go in the middle of the week during the day, it’s going to be jammed. Getting a table on a Friday or Saturday is like pulling teeth. There’s long wait lines, and because of this I usually just end up ordering my food to go. Things have gotten better since they opened their second location on College Street, but even still being a student only working part-time, spending $8 a week on vegan mac and cheese is just not fiscally responsible.
Luckily, I have an in. One of my friends used to work at Hogtown and knows all of their secret recipes. He was kind enough to send me an ingredients list that I can now move forward with and try to attempt to re-create my favourite comfort-food treat a la Binging With Babish. So join me on Facebook Live this coming Thursday March 29 as I take the ingredients list and go grocery shopping to buy everything I need to re-create the dish. Then head over to my YouTube channel to find the recipe.