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Vegan café-market and catering company

The New Creative
by Cassandra Bernard

Kevin and Aurora MacLean (photo: Ann Winslow)A new vegan cafe-market and catering company is making the Island’s vegan community, and even some non-vegans, very happy by serving loads of delicious plant-based meals and treats. Located at the back of Back Alley Music in Charlottetown is the home of Stir it Up!

Owners Kevin and Aurora MacLean say the concept for Stir it Up! grew over the years before actually being born. Aurora’s sister, a vegan for all of her life, expressed the need for a vegan cafe in Charlottetown for over a decade. She is not alone in this quest, and more and more vegan options are popping up in the city every day.

Starting out as a vegan catering company and selling their products in local stores such as Rawsome Juice Bar and the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market, the couple decided it was time to open their own location. “We believe we’re quite literally stirring things up in the Charlottetown vegan community,” she says.

Aurora knows what it’s like to hold such beliefs close to heart and now appreciates all of the hard work her mother put into packing healthy lunches for her and her sister as a children. “Growing up, I was the child who brought avocado sprout sandwiches, cold pressed beet juice and veggies with homemade hummus for lunch,” she explains. “I’ve been exposed to phenomenal cooking my whole life, so it only makes sense that food is always on my mind.”

Kevin is originally from the Caribbean where food is celebrated each and every day. “Every occasion to eat is done with massive full flavoured foods and all your family and friends. Everyone collaborates together and bring dishes,” he says.

The extremely tasty menu at Stir it Up! includes everything from burgers and sandwiches, soups, salads and pastas to cookies and donuts (yes, donuts!). All ingredients are sourced locally, fresh and organic when possible. “We eat like that at home, so that part was really important to us,” Aurora says.

The couple plan to expand in the future, including filling their freezer with to-go meals, making it easier for busy vegans on the go. “We would love for people to be able to come in and grab frozen meals like pizza and lasagna and take it home to their families for a quick delicious dinner,” Aurora explains. They also hope to add a licensed patio in their back yard for people to have a cozy place to enjoy their food since the cafe is take-out only at this time. “Plus we just love summer and patios and it opens up the possibilities for way more food options when it’s not take-away.” Also, get ready for curry nights, inspired by Kev’s Caribbean background, at Stir it Up! “You haven’t lived until you’ve had an authentic Trinidadian curry meal,” he says.

The couple want to share their love for cooking with plant-based ingredients and to encourage others to try new cooking alternatives. “If you learn and practice cooking with plant-based alternatives for long enough and have a love for big flavours, cooking with plants can be exciting, delicious and healthy to boot,” Aurora says. “With events such as the vegan potlucks and groups like Veg PEI, we’re well on our way to great things in PEI.”

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