vegandale dairy allergy toronto

Woman hospitalized after being served dairy at Toronto vegan restaurant

A Toronto woman with severe dairy allergies is speaking out this week after unknowingly consuming something with traces of milk in it at a vegan restaurant — and not just any vegan restaurant.

Vittoria Rabito, a Ryerson University student, was eating at a restaurant in the area of Parkdale that a local event management group contentiously tried to rebrand as "Vegandale" earlier this year.

Rabito herself is not a vegan, but considers vegan restaurants safe, as by definition they do not serve any animal products. The businesses that align themselves with Vegandale (there are seven right now, plus a pop-up) are furthermore known to be fiercely, militantly and outspokenly vegan.

Thus, Rabito wasn't particularly worried about ingesting anything that could hurt her at the recently-opened Vegandale Brewery, which boasts the tagline "morality on tap."

If it hadn't been for her EpiPen and some quick emergency responders, that assumption could have cost her her life.

It’s been a blurry week🍂

A post shared by Vittoria Rabito (@vittoriarabito) on

VICE News reports that Rabito had taken one bite of a meatless "pulled pork taco" at Vegandale Brewery on November 9 when her lips started to tingle. Within minutes, her airway was starting to close and she was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

The student later told VICE that she'd only ever had to use her EpiPen once before, and that this was the worst reaction she'd ever had.

A few weeks later, Vegandale Brewery confirmed to Rabito by email that one of the seasonings used for her taco came with a "product may contain traces of milk" warning.

Neither her server, who Rabito says was told about her allergy at the onset, nor the restaurant was aware of this before the incident as, according to VICE, "the seasoning arrived in unlabelled packaging."

Rabito is okay, but this is a bad look for Vegandale.

The business collective has already taken a lot of heat this year from Parkdale residents and activists who fear that "marginalized communities are being evicted to make room for privileged, inaccessible veganism."

The company behind Vegandale (5700 Inc.) said in a statement that it takes food safety seriously, though some suppliers "may use animal-based ingredients in their production facilities when making other products."

A kitchen manager at Vegandale Brewery itself told VICE that the situation was "unacceptable" and that the restaurant will be replacing its current, vegetarian spice supplier with one that is fully vegan.

"I feel terrible for this young lady," commented one person on Twitter after hearing Rabito's story. "At the same time LOL to Vegandale — another sign they need to GTFO of Parkdale."

"Vegandale... where 'morality's on tap' but no one know what's is in your food," joked someone else. "I guess Vegandale is only for ethical vegans and not folks who have real health aversions to animal products."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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