Vancouver food influencer Erin Ireland might be a committed vegan, but she's fairly certain not all of her customers are. Late last year, Ireland took her popular baked goods brand from a commissary kitchen to a production facility and cafe storefront in East Vancouver, and the exponential growth means more opportunities for the independent business owner to prove that delicious baking can easily be made entirely plant-based.
Open for business for a few months now, To Live For is located on Nanaimo Street, just north of 1st Avenue in a part of the city that is undergoing a lot of growth and redevelopment.
From the big window facing Grant Street, passers-by can get a peek at the team of bakers who are working with an unprecedented number of plant-based products that have come to market to create tantalizing croissants, cookies, and other treats, including eye-catching cakes covered in sprinkles or even unicorn horns.
It's all pretty magical, but it's also a testament to how far vegan food has come in recent years - even in the years since Ireland herself switched over to a fully plant-based diet.
The bakeshop doesn't scream "vegan" by design, explains Ireland, who suspects that any number of her guests pop in simply because they're in search of a coffee and scone or breakfast sandwich, but there are some hints, like the massive photo of a cow and calf on one wall, and the sign on the sidewalk that simply reads "The future of baking is plant-based."
Longtime followers of Ireland on social media know the Vancouverite and mom of two is passionate about animals and has long used her platform to share her love of living creatures, and how delicious it is to cook plant-based meals and treats. It was that love - an emphasis on life and positivity - that prompted a name change from her brand's original moniker, To Die For, which was initially tied to her omnivore food blog of places and dishes so good they were "to die for."
Ireland has put her heart and soul into her bakery - its one and only location, she affirms without hesitation - and is constantly looking for ways to keep the menu exciting for customers and her team. To that end, you can pop in to find all sorts of rotating specials at To Live For, from things like a Coconut Hibiscus Latte to a caramel and chocolate cupcake or a S'mores croissant cafe staff will warm up for you to ensure maximum gooey-ness. Additionally, To Live For likes to collaborate with or host other plant-based local businesses, as well as support causes, including animal rights and Indigenous organizations through several charitable initiatives.
The culinary creativity comes thanks to a talented team of bakers who work 'round the clock to keep the cafe stocked and to fill orders for wholesale customers who stock the brand's signature banana bread (which didn't start out vegan) and a few other treats, as well as special cake orders. Ireland credits her French-trained pastry chef who heads up the baking team for the success of their high-quality treats that deploy dairy and egg substitutes and have many a customer marvelling that the eats are totally plant-based.
To Live For is located at 1508 Nanaimo St and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Follow @tolivefor.bakery on Instagram for the latest news from the bakery cafe and to see the current specials on the menu.
Video: A visit to vegan bakery cafe To Live For in Vancouver
@forkingawesomevia Would you even know these were vegan? #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #plantbased 🎙️@LindsayWR ♬ Feather - Sped Up - Sabrina Carpenter