Welcome to this episode of Living Meatless Tales. Be inspired as you are taken on an adventure of transformation and understanding as each one of our guests share their experience of making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same.
This week our featured guest is Veronica Amaya, owner of Canela Bakery.
Veronica Amaya is a Calgary-based entrepreneur who owns Canela, which is Spanish for cinnamon. With great love and passion for what she does she bakes organic, vegan cinnamon buns and churros and provides them to her customers at cSpace Market in Marda Loop on Saturday’s and Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer’s Market on Wednesday’s.
In 1998, Veronica and her husband moved to Canada from Chihuahua, Mexico seeking a new adventure and to experience a new culture that would allow them to cultivate a life they found difficult to obtain in Mexico.
Before moving to Canada Veronica didn’t speak any English but worked hard, studied, learned the language and landed herself a great job with the Bernard Callebaut chocolatier company. While working with, and learning from, Mr. Callebaut she saw the great passion he had for his chocolate creations and business. She was inspired and soon found herself in an operations management role in charge of the business through it’s sale a few years later.
She then started her own chocolate company, which she let go a few years ago. Veronica soon found herself wanting to get back into the kitchen and share her love of food, which is how Canela was born.
Veronica has a loving husband and two daughters, one in University and one who still lives at home, and her dog Lucy, a chocolate lab that she loves and adores.
Please join me as we learn more about Veronica, her journey to Living MeatLESS and sharing her love of food with the world…
Veronica and I met at Community Natural Foods on a rainy Thursday morning to chat and share a fresh juice. When Veronica came into the cafe toting a box with the Canela label on top I knew she had brought me a special treat. After introducing ourselves and finding a seat she presented me with the box. I was very excited as I knew what I was about to see. I opened the box and there were three freshly baked cinnamon buns. If you know me at all you know that I LOVE cinnamon buns and I am always on the hunt for vegan cinnamon buns, which until now were hard to find. What a great way to begin our meeting!
Rachel: Thank you, Veronica, for taking the time to meet with me today. I was so very excited to be introduced to your business and get connected with you. I am always on the hunt for delicious, high-quality, healthy, vegan baked goods, which are not easy to find.
If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a few questions to get to know you a little more and share your journey of Living MeatLESS with my readers.
Veronica: “Yes, of course. I am happy to be here.”
Rachel: Excellent! Let me start by asking why do you choose to eat a plant-based diet and how did you come to embrace a vegan lifestyle?
Veronica: “Well, many years ago, while working as the operations manager with Bernard Callebaut I was feeling extremely physically sick. I was eating meat, dairy and eggs, all the foods I had grown up eating but my energy levels were very low and I had high inflammation in my body, gall stones, carpel tunnel, stomach issues, migraines, Hashimoto’s and was depressed. I knew this was not right so I began doing some research into diet and lifestyle changes.
I thought I was eating healthy but as I started watching a variety of health documentaries I realized I could do better. One of the first documentaries I watched was Hungry For Change. After seeing this documentary I started to purchase more organic and local products. I then watched Forks Over Knives and decided to give up red meat. Shortly after that I gave up chicken but continued to eat fish, eggs and dairy along with a greater abundance of vegetables.
I continued to research animal-free options and realized it wasn’t as hard as I thought to be vegan. There are many animal-free food options available. Also, as I continued to learn about the cruel practices that went on in the agricultural industry I knew I had to stop eating anything that was, or came from, an animal. After being vegan for awhile I started to feel much better. I began to lose weight naturally, had more energy and could now go to the gym on a regular basis and all my disease symptoms went away.
It probably took me about three months from the time I watched the first documentary to being full vegan. I have been vegan now since 2013 and have not looked back.
I believe in being a whole food healthy vegan, rather than a junk food vegan, which means I eat a lot of whole, real food, such as greens, food from local organic farmer and I am absolutely in love with superfoods. At the beginning, my reason for going vegan was for my health but my why has transformed to being for the animals. I no longer buy clothing or any products that use animal-based ingredients or test on animals.”
Rachel: What made you decide to start Canela Bakery and why churros and cinnamon buns?
Veronica: “I have a strong love for food. I helped my mother in the kitchen as a young girl. She had a catering business and I always loved to help her. After helping in the kitchen since a child, and being in the food industry for many years, I love to get creative with food. I have a passion for creating new recipes and sharing food with my family and friends.
The cinnamon bun idea came by accident. I had made a vegan cinnamon bun for a friend on mine who said they were amazing and suggested I share them with others. As for the churros, they are a favourite in my culture and are something that are not usually available in a vegan option. So, I decided to look for farmers markets to sell my baking although I was new and needed to get them to notice me. I personally sought out the market managers in person to get better known, develop relationships and trust. I am now at cSpace in Marda Loop on Saturday’s and Sunnyside Market on Wednesday’s. I love both of these market’s because they are dog friendly.”
Rachel: Do you personally make and create the recipes?
Veronica: “Yes I do. As I mentioned before I love to be creative in the kitchen. Getting the perfect cinnamon bun and churro took a lot of trial and error, about eight different times to master the recipes, but I finally did it. Each cinnamon roll has 12 grams of protein, they are made with non-GMO ingredients, organic flour, organic coconut palm sugar and organic cinnamon. I believe in using high quality ingredients that will not only allow people to enjoy a delicious vegan treat they may not have been able to have before but also one that will provide some nourishment as well. I pride myself on this higher standard and is what I want my brand to be known for.”
Rachel: What is your most popular item and why do you think people like that item the best?
Veronica: “Both the churros and cinnamon buns are equally popular; however, the churros seem to be most popular with kids. I am not sure why. Maybe because they are easy to eat? Like candy on a stick?”
Rachel: If a young person came to you looking for help about embracing a vegan lifestyle and you only had a few minutes to give him, or her, your best piece of advice, what would it be?
Veronica: “One of the things I would say would be to make the switch gradually. Go slow. Take it one step at a time and listen to your body. If you do this your body will tell you when it’s time to make the full transition to being vegan. I believe if a person tries to force it they will fail.”
Rachel: I agree. Our body is an amazing thing… it will tell us what it needs, when it needs it if we are open to listening. Before we finish is there anything else you’d like to add?
Veronica: “Yes, please support your local small businesses and seek out locally sourced food and products as much as possible. I believe this is so important.”
Rachel: Great advice! I think it would be nice for the world to go back to caring for, and supporting, the people in their community first rather than big business who doesn’t always have the needs of the people at the forefront.
Veronica, thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me today. Your story is an inspiration and your baking is divine! I look forward to coming by the market on the weekend to pick up more cinnamon buns and trying a churro for the first time!
Veronica: “Thank you for having me. It has been a pleasure.”
Since conducting this interview I have had the pleasure of trying Canela’s vegan, organic and healthy baked goods and have to say they are absolutely divine! I will be a regular customer for sure!
You can find Canela’s products here…
- Farmer’s and Makers Market at cSpace in Marda Loop at Suite 375, 1721 29 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta on Saturday’s
- Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmer’s Market at 1320 5th Ave NW, Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday’s
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/canelaYYC/
- Instagram: @Canelayyc
- Email to place special orders and delivery: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time…
May the magic of Living MeatLESS bring you a lifetime of healthy abundance!
Namaste my friends,
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Author, Health & Wellness Coach