You don’t have to be vegan to love Buddha-Full

It took a whole week for a group of construction workers to realize the field-roasted sausage in their Tuscan wraps wasn’t real meat.

Working across the street from Buddha-Full, a juice bar in the 100-block of West First Street in Lower Lonsdale, they still stop by on their lunch break for a hearty meal.

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“They were shocked they weren’t eating real meat, but they loved it,” said Kyla Rawlins, co-owner of Buddha-Full, with a laugh.

Instead of blatantly advertising the juice bar serves vegan (as well as gluten-free, raw and organic) drinks and food, the flavours are allowed to speak for themselves.

“It’s that good. People who usually aren’t vegan love it too,” says Rawlins, sipping a Buddha-buzz smoothie – a refreshing concoction of sprouted almond “mylk,” raw cacao, espresso, banana and dates. Fans of the juice bar will be excited to hear that two new locations are slated to open in early September – one at Hawkers Wharf, an open-air food market near the Northshore Auto Mall, and in Northwoods Village at 101-2120 Dollarton Highway. Located in the developing Maplewood neighbourhood, Buddha-Full is located near other businesses aimed at healthy living.  

“We spent a long time looking for a new spot – in Squamish, downtown and on Broadway – but we kept being pulled back to the North Shore,” said co-owner Geremie Voigt, sitting beside his new business partner Tanya Champoux and Rawlins, who he has been best friends with since they were both 13 years old. The “obsessive health foodies” later teamed up to launch the flagship location in 2010. “It’s the compassion part of being vegan and striving to be healthy that kept us close all these years.”

The vibe for the Maplewood Buddha-Full location is drawn from Blueberry Café, a laidback club in Nashville that’s famous for its intimate acoustic music and community involvement.

The plan is to offer morning fitness classes, “Buddha Bootcamps,” neighbourhood walks, open-mic nights, raw food cooking classes, in addition to serving up smoothies and plant-based food and selling a variety of locally produced products.

A certified raw food chef, Voigt is making the new location dog-friendly with a newly created “dog smoothie” that has been approved for its nutritious content by a veterinarian in North Vancouver.

“We’re working to have a patio where dogs are allowed. We all have one,” said Voigt, a long-term vegan and son of a five-star chef. Also a staunch vegan, Rawlins says it has become much easier to eat a plant-based diet in the last few years. “There are so many products. Milk alternatives are easy. There is so much out there for vegan and gluten-free food, even in regular grocery stores,” she says, adding that Voigt is working on creating a delicious vegan cheese, a kind of food vegans tend to miss the most.

Buddha-Full’s mission statement – “To inspire love and nourish health, for every person, every being, every community” – summarizes the passion that keeps the business partners working hard at the juice bar each day.

“We want to bring the community together in a compassionate and healthy way,” said Rawlins.

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