How Culver City Salads is winning friends with salad in Vancouver

You do win friends with salad. After years working as a fashion designer and nail artist, Christina Culver discovered that her vegan salads were winning hearts all over her hometown of Vancouver, and Culver City Salads was born. From lunch delivery to a solar powered food truck that can always be found at the city’s coolest events, the blond beauty managed to turn a passion for cooking into a movement. We’ve been addicted since day one, so we had to get her to spill on how it all went down and give us some expert insight on what’s next after kale.

THIS WHOLE THING BEGAN WITH LUNCH DELIVERIES TO FRIENDS. HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE IT A CAREER? I wouldn’t call it a decision exactly, more of just a fly by the seat of my panties kind of move. Culver City Salads was born when I was trying to make a go of it as a nail artist (early 2011) about four years after putting my fashion label Christina Darling to bed. That wasn’t proving to keep me busy enough so it was time to figure out what was next. I’ve always loved cooking for my family (I’m the second oldest of six kids) and friends. It’s also my yoga. At the end of a long day I’m happiest cooking up something new and feel good. I’d gone vegan a few years prior and really loved the challenge of making complete, well balanced meals that no one would guess lacked animal proteins – vegan trickery I like to call it.

Two of my closest friends suggested I start making some of my classic entree size salads for them and drop them at their offices for lunch and this soon snowballed into large office deliveries (Lululemon and Hootsuite were regulars). The first year I spent running around the city delivering on foot, transit and borrowing cars. What started as a word of mouth and Facebook fan page soon turned into a website where you had to order the day prior, and we were retailing off the Juice Truck and a few other places. By the spring of 2013 our food truck Granny Smith hit the road. This is when my little sister Sarah came to my rescue, we’ve been working together ever since. Our focus has shifted more to larger corporate deliveries and catering and retail. In the past year we’ve done weddings, presidential events, retreats, sporting events, store openings – some on and some off the truck. We’re now talking about opening our own space and, well, about a million other things.

And in terms of this being it for me, well it so totally is… for now. Things are moving so incredibly fast, but food and especially healthy food is a constant and something that we all need. I am so lucky – I spend my days surrounded by nothing but pure health and super grateful people that are working to be the best versions of themselves.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW SOLAR POWERED FOOD TRUCK! Oh man – I’m still pinching myself over this! From the get-go I was dead set against running our kitchen appliances off of a generator. We decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 to put towards turning our little truck energy efficient. Just as we were gearing up to launch the campaign my friend told me about the prep fridge his family business had been developing for three years that was basically going to answer my prayers (I love good timing). It runs off 20% the energy of a regular fridge. The campaign was a success, we hit our goal! We got the first of these fridges – the prototype. The solar panels will happen in the next few months, we’re just in the process of re-doing all the research and weighing our options. Solar is so insanely progressive! I want to do this once and I want to do it right.

SO HAS KALE HAD ITS 15 MINUTES? WHAT’S THE NEW NEW IN VEGETABLES? Kale is basically an international celebrity! Just for the record… I’ve been using it since the beginning. Everyone knows that the darker the green the better, so if you’re sick of the hype collard greens, chard and micro-greens are waiting for you! I obviously love vegetables like nobody’s business and I really try not to discriminate. When I’m at the grocery store and something jumps out at me I always grab it and treat it as an opportunity to play. My most recent culinary adventure involved sunchokes and tomatillos. How about trying to eat the rainbow in fruit and veggies everyday? I dare you.

Lauren Toyota on going vegan and food blogging with her BF

When she’s not interviewing celebrities for MTV Canada, Much Music and eTalk, Lauren Toyota is in the kitchen, literally “cooking up vegan love”. She started her blog, hot for food, in 2009 when she began to transition into being a full-time vegan and wanted to share her journey, and some seriously delicious recipes, along the way. (We recommend trying her vegan buffalo wings, they are no joke.) A few years later she sat next to John Diemer on a cross-country tour bus and found her foodie equal. The adorable couple has been blogging together ever since. We had to find out more so we quizzed both of them on their story.


TELL US ABOUT HOT FOR FOOD. I started hot for food blog in late 2009 when I started to transition into veganism. I was getting really into eating this way and I had a lot of time to cook, test recipes, and take photos. Blogging was a good motivation to stick with veganism and share my story, recipe ideas, and even the struggles at the beginning. The blog didn’t get serious though until I met John. It was amazing to have someone around who was as in love with food as I am! It only made sense for us to go on this journey together, share our travels with people, and spread more vegan love.

ANY TIPS YOU CAN GIVE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO GO VEGAN? If you’re interested definitely try it one meal at a time. Then go for a week, maybe even two. You will notice a huge difference in the way you feel in only one to two weeks. And I urge you to try some of the vegan products on the market right now, especially those from Daiya, Gardein, Sol Cuisine, and Earth Balance. Things have come a long way and I promise that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.

YOU TRAVEL TO TRY OUT VEGAN RESTAURANTS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SO FAR? The best meals we’ve eaten on a trip have been in Las Vegas. It’s also the city that surprised us the most with being so vegan friendly. I never would have thought I could eat whatever I wanted in a city like that, but they have everything! The Wynn Hotel on the strip has 14 to 16 restaurants all of which have their own custom vegan menus. We ate like kings while we were there.

HAVE YOU INTERVIEWED ANY VEGAN CELEBRITIES? Unfortunately I have yet to bond with any vegan celebrities. Kermit The Frog might be the closest I’ve come though, since he’s against eating pigs! But I hope I can meet some true vegan ambassadors one day soon. I would love to meet Ellen DeGeneres or even this high profile vegan chef, Tal Ronnen. But out of all the celebs I’ve met my favorite interviews were with Regis Philbin, Will Ferrell, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, and One Direction.

I am a sucker for some vegan “chicken”. My fave meal is the southern combo from The Hogtown Vegan in Toronto. It’s fried vegan chicken with sides of sautéed collard greens and vegan mac and cheese.


TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Lauren and I met on set while filming the Much VJ Search last year. She was hosting and I was hired as a freelance sound mixer. It was a cross-country bus tour with stops in all major cities along the way. We sat together everyday on the bus and used the 12-hour bus rides to get to know one another; it was the longest first date ever!

HOW DID YOU MAKE THE SWITCH TO BEING VEGAN? I would like to say that I quit meat and dairy cold turkey but I feel like that’s a bad euphemism for a vegan to use! But actually it was a very fast transition and both my love for Lauren and food made it a really exciting time for me. I would spend most of my nights trying to cook up veganized versions of my favourite dishes for Lauren to try. If anyone is having trouble making the switch, just do what I did and fall in love with a vegan.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VEGAN MEAL? If I know Lauren she’s probably going to say the southern combo from The Hogtown Vegan which is a close second next to Lauren’s famous mac and cheese. It’s the perfect combo of creamy, rich and tasty!

Meet the Designer: Freedom of Animals

Drawing inspiration from ethical fashion trailblazers like Stella McCartney and the sophistication of Céline, Freedom of Animals is creating a new category in sustainable style: Feel (Really) Good Fashion. Not only are their sleek handbags and backpacks made with materials like recycled water bottles and organic cotton, the luxury line has partnered with a wildlife conservation fund to donate a portion of sales. No wonder they’ve amassed such a following (that includes SJP herself) in a couple of short years. There’s literally nothing not to love about this line so we had to get all the scoop from designer Morgan Boyle. Of course she’s just as cool as we thought she’d be.

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