By James Belford – The Brock Press
The restaurant business does not always cater to the growing markets of vegans and vegetarians. While most restaurants serve dishes without animal products, Rise Above is the only 100 percent plant-based restaurant in the Niagara Region.
Located at 120 St. Paul Street, Rise Above strives to serve a burgeoning group of vegans and vegetarians, while also aiming to introduce people to the delicious world of vegan cooking.
To call Rise Above a restaurant is an oversimplification. Every Thursday, the storefront transforms into a bakery making scrumptious vegan doughnuts, cakes and other treats. The business is also a notable café that serves a wide variety of coffee and offers catering services for special events. Special orders are available upon request, and most dishes can be made gluten-free.
Many of the meals substitute ingredients of conventional favourites with vegan alternatives, creating dishes like vegan grilled cheese, burritos and vegan macaroni and cheese. Rise Above incorporates meals from a wide variety of ethnicities, such as Indian, Italian and Mexican in order to become a truly cosmopolitan restaurant.
Rise Above is not only a restaurant, bakery and café– it is also a hub for community events. The last Saturday night of every month is a lively dance night.
The business aims to benefit the world and the Niagara community. The most notable way in which Rise Above accomplishes this is by serving 100 percent cruelty-free products. Food from Rise Above uses no animal products, meaning that fewer animals are subject to the conditions of factory farming.
Only using ethically sourced plant-based ingredients ensures that their food is not responsible for animals spending their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of sunlight, and opportunities to engage in natural behaviour. By not using animal products, Rise Above also helps to reduce environmental degradation, since animal agriculture is responsible for at least 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Rise Above gives back to the community by partnering with Food not Bombs, an action group of OPIRG Brock. Rise Above donates food to Food not Bombs who then serves free vegan meals to the community. Food Not Bombs protests the governmental spending of millions of dollars on military weapons, while many in Canada go hungry. Food not Bombs and Rise Above help to alleviate poverty in the Niagara region and end violence. Rise Above in general is greatly involved in supporting the local community through these initiatives and many more.
Rise Above was founded in 2009 by chef Kyle Patton. Starting August 1, 2013, the ownership has been transferred to Brian Gasbarini and Kelsey Cheslock. The business continues to grow and flurish under new management, who are trying to incorporate more locally sourced ingredients.
Brock University does not offer the same selection of vegan products found in the downtown core, but has a fair number of on-campus alternatives at Marketplace and Union Station.
The on campus Subway offers vegetarian options including vegetable subs, salads and vegetable soups. Veggie burgers are available both at Harveys and Guernsey Market. There are also vegan options at Ah-So-Sushi and Brock’s Fortune Cookie.
As more students in the Brock community and at other universities continue to become vegetarian/vegan and the demand for ethical alternatives increases, businesses will adapt.