Leslieville vegan deli challenges conceptions of plant-based alternatives

Jinglepear Deli has quickly become a go-to option for everything vegan in Toronto

Jinglepear deli's storefront
Jinglepear Deli on Greenwood Avenue sells vegan products, and runs events that aim to engage vegans and non-vegans alike. (Austin Kelly/Toronto Observer) 

Before going through the process of opening her vegan deli in Toronto’s Leslieville, Sinead Hammons knew the eatery would be named after a special family reference she had kept in the back of her mind for years.

“My son, when he was little at day care, they were learning Christmas songs and he couldn’t get it right,” she said. “He was about two and half and he kept signing, ‘In a partridge and a jinglepear tree,’ instead of ‘pear tree.’

“So we just thought that was super cute and it just became a word we had in our family,” Hammons said. “I’ve known I’ve wanted to do this for about 20 years, and I always knew that ‘Jinglepear’ would be the name of it.”

Since opening at the beginning of 2020, Jinglepear Deli has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for vegan food needs. Situated just off of Greenwood Avenue and Gerrard Street East, the shop is open Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday to Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m.

Once the site of a butcher shop, Strickland’s Choice Meats, Jinglepear now serves vegan products, which contain no animal products, meant to offer as much of a variety as possible.

Hammons, who would visit the butcher shop with her mom as a kid, said it was “ironic” the store now hosts a vegan deli, but was always influenced by the aesthetic of butcher shops. She always liked the looks of those companies, “just this clean, simple kind of style,” she said.

Hammons doesn’t consider Jinglepear as an antithesis of butcher shops. She calls her store an “evolution of what a butcher shop is.”

The deli offers a large array of vegan products, plant-based and dairy-free alternatives to foods such as meat and cheeses, ranging from baked goods and sandwiches to boxed meals. The wide selection allows for as many options as possible, not just for current vegans, but for those curious about plant-based products, and looking for a range.

Their website says the shop’s goal is “to make eating vegan and plant-based food every day easy for everyone.”

Connecting to the local community

Sinead Hammons, owner of Jinglepear Deli (Austin Kelly/Toronto Observer)

Hammons, who has been connected to the Leslieville area since her childhood, acknowledges the shop would likely be more successful in a more largely populated area, but she believes in the neighbourhood.

“For me, it’s really important to be a part of the neighbourhood.”

Hammons said many of Jinglepear’s clientele are non-locals, with the shop doing catering and delivery orders on top of being a physical storefront.

Being still somewhat of a recent store, and catering to a specific food preference, Jinglepear has made efforts to engage in the local Leslieville community as an everything store for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Jinglepear events

The shop hosts “sample sessions,” where guests can come in and try samples of many of the offered products, with a $25 admission free to try 15 vegan-friendly selections.

Jinglepear also hosts a vegan crochet and knitting circle on Thursdays between 7 – 9 p.m., where participants use animal-free products such as yarn and fibres.

Vegan knitting began as an outlet for Hammons, an avid knitter, who wanted to not only find time to reunite with their former hobby, but to encourage others to get into the practice with a cruelty free option.

“If you’re in a knitting circle, and you’re really ethically vegan, it is troublesome and it does bother you to see people using animal fibres,” she said. “And you kind of want to speak up and that’s not the point of being there, so I just wanted to have a place where people felt comfortable if they were vegan.”

Hammons said the practice is also open to non-vegans who want to try animal-free knitting.

Veganism: more than just plant-based

Veganism has influence beyond just the food world, with vegan alternatives existing in the world of fashion as well, with makeup and clothing alternatives an option for ethically sourced products made without fur.

Lights of All‘ is a Toronto-based vegan fashion company that since 2017 has designed clothing meant to be eco-friendly and without animals being used in the process. On its website, the company’s owner and lead designer, Katia Hagen, says the goal is “to create a kinder fashion industry where no one has to come into harms way.”

Hammons has nothing but thankfulness for the community’s embrace of Jinglepear. “I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of this, I really do love doing this. It feels amazing to put into practice what you’ve been thinking of for all those years.”

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Posted: Jun 6 2024 9:00 am
Filed under: Business Food Lifestyle News Spotlight On Small Biz Unique Business