The basic premise for Apiecalypse Now, a gem of a pizzeria in Toronto, is simple—if you make pizza that is really really good, it won’t matter that it’s vegan; and if you make vegan pizza, and it is really really good, then the distance between “I could never do that” and “I’m thinking of trying to be vegan” will get smaller and smaller and smaller.
It’s a logical thought process because it seems for a long time veganism suffered from this idea that it was food for “other people.” You know—those “other people” who eat spirulina on their steel-cut, gluten-free oats while they unwind from their huge hike at dawn through the mountains, who wear organic hemp underwear and run the local food co-op and slap burgers out of people’s hands in the street. Apiecalypse Now rejects the idea that vegan food is for any one type of person and has set out to remove as many barriers as possible by giving people a chance to try it out.
On any given day conversations in this small independent shop with newcomers revolve around one simple premise; none of the vegans who work there or eat there stopped eating animals because they didn’t like the taste—it was the animal agriculture, the industry, and the food system they took issue with. This thinking spawned a pizza that could hold its own against some of the greatest pizzas in the world, the Pig Destroyer Destroyer (PDD), otherwise known as Apiecalypse’s vegan meat lovers pie.
The pizza itself is a venerable mountain of meat-ish toppings: vegan bbq soy curls to mimic mock pulled pork, vegan bacon bits, vegan ground beef, vegan pepperoni slices, and a housemade seitan chorizo. The base is a creamy garlic sauce that’s topped with their housemade hot sauce. It then gets handfuls of garlic artichokes, crumbles of vegan smoked gouda cheese, and lastly a generous coating of vegan mozzarella.
To top off the vegan blasphemy, every single pizza crust in the shop starts with a coating of a vegan bacon grease substitute made by Vegan Magic (another local vegan business), olive oil, and vegan butter. Six minutes at 700 degrees, and the PDD is a golden brown, totally overloaded, decadent slice of fool-your-dad-every-time vegan excellence.
Branching off the success of the Pig Destroyer Destroyer (which takes its name from both the grindcore band, as well as a jab at fellow metal-head pizza shop Sizzle Pie in Portland Oregon, which has an actual meat pizza called the Pig Destroyer) the shop has added more and more vegan meat-centric pizzas. The PDD, which was expected to be an outlier when the menu was conceived quickly set the tone for monthly pizza specials that focused on very un-vegan, vegan pizzas. Two of those specials had such a vocal outcry when their temporary stints ended that they were added to the permanent menu, and are now both in step with the PDD as the most popular items on the menu.
One of the back-by-relentless-demand pizzas that has quickly risen in popularity is the Fat Mac. A nod to its inspiration, the Big Mac at McDonald’s, and named for the character Mac on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the pizza has become so well known the shop entertains regular tourist traffic simply to try a slice. It’s made with a sesame seed crust, a whole layer of vegan ground beef, shredded dill pickles in living brine, diced onions, cubes of vegan cheddar cheese, and then fresh from the oven, a layer of shredded lettuce and their world famous Fat Mac Sauce.
Not only was the shop inundated with requests for the Fat Mac to be put on the permanent menu, but fans of the shop asked for it so often, their Fat Mac Sauce can now be purchased from the fridge in 8-ounce jars to take home. Even better, the majority of the people buying it are not vegan nor vegetarian.
The road less traveled in veganism is straight-up conning people into trying something with so much “meat” on it. You would never expect it to be vegan and then yelling “gotcha!” but that’s what happens at Apiecalypse Now a few times every day. The shop offers any newcomers that are skeptical about trying some of the best pizza in the world, that just so happens to be vegan, a full refund if not satisfied. To this day, not one single meat eater has requested one.
Pizza, as we have suspected all along, may be the great unifier that will forever alter the course of our world’s food. Just as easily, vegan pizza may be the tastiest vector for a changing world, served with an Arizona tall can and a side of tempeh wings, on a late, hazy night by Christie Pits Park in Toronto. At Apiecalypse Now, they are proving that through pizza, maybe all good things are possible.
Grab your passport and head to: 735 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G 1L5, Canada