Richard Rabkin is the Managing Director of VegeCert, a non profit that certifies vegan and vegetarian food products. Sweets from the Earth was one of the first companies to jump on the VegeCert bandwagon demonstrating their commitment to vegan and vegetarian consumers.

How can a vegan or vegetarian be assured that what products s/he buys in the supermarket are suitable for his/her dietary restrictions?

Well, there are a number of problematic ingredients out there such as gelatin, an ingredient used in many candies or yogurts is often made from the remnants of cattle, pigs or horses; tallow, which is often used as a lubricant, is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat; cheeses contain rennet which contains pieces of the stomach lining of certain animals as a coagulant; or even carmine/cochineal which is used as a dye is actually crushed up beetles (yes you read that right). 

But simply reading the list of ingredients on food packaging does not always ensure that a particular product is suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets for three main reasons. First, if an ingredient contained in a product is used in a small proportion, governments may not require that they be listed on the package. Thus, a consumer could unknowingly be consuming an animal based ingredient even if she or he read the product’s ingredients carefully. Second, the machinery used in the production of food products must be thoroughly cleaned in a proscribed fashion to ensure that there is no cross contamination from animal based food items produced on the same machinery. Companies often have different products operating on the same machinery so your regular potato chips could have residue from the pork rinds run earlier that day. Finally, certain ingredients that are very commonly used in the food manufacture process such as “glycerine,” a common stabilizer, can be animal based or vegetable based, and a consumer would have almost no way of knowing by reading the product’s label. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Both Sweets from the Earth bakeries are strictly vegan and use only vegan ingredients.  We do not allow any non vegan ingredients into either facility at any time.)

With so many details, it might make a vegetarian or vegan swear off store bought food forever. To prevent such a catastrophe, VegeCert was born. VegeCert worked with the Toronto Vegetarian Association to develop standards that would be used in certifying products with either a “Certified Vegan” or “Certified Vegetarian” designation. Sweets From the Earth was one of the first companies to jump on the VegeCert “bandwagon” so to speak, and all of their products are VegeCert: Certified Vegan.

VegeCert is unique in that we make physical inspections of our certified food manufacturing facilities to ensure that they conform to VegeCert’s high standards. So next time you are in the grocery store and see a VegeCert symbol, you can be comforted knowing that what you are eating conforms to your dietary standards.

For more information about VegeCert visit or

Kym Klopp is the owner of ecoexistence,  a store that specializes in eco-friendly home and lifestyle products. Kym is as passionate about her community as she is the environment and regularly hosts events in her store that have turned ecoexistence into a neighbourhood hub where authors, activists, chefs and others meet to share ideas for living a greener, more meaningful existence.


1.       What is your favourite Sweets from the Earth product? And why?

I love SFTE because they are a healthy snack! I like that they are low in saturated fats, GMO and preserve free and there are no refined sugars….Yet they still taste sinfully good.

2.       When do you indulge and eat your Sweets – Morning/Afternoon/Night?

I will indulge if I had an amazing workout in the morning as a treat. I will also grab one mid day to pick me up. I try to NEVER snack after 7 pm.

3.       Where do you purchase your fave Sweets from?

I buy SFTE at Cafe Noir and Evergreen on St Clair.

4.       Do you follow any special diets?

I generally watch what I eat and have become so much more conscious of what I eat and always try to buy organic where possible. I try to never eat after 7pm. I also am very careful of sugars and processed food.

5.       What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness…well my life right now. I have a great family and wonderfully supportive friends. Then there is my little business ecoexistence…which I learn from everyday…it inspires me to be a better person. I feel so blessed to meet new and inspiring people each and everyday!

6.       If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?

I would take food esp. pizza (so many variations), iPad (with WiFi) and the people who mean the most to me!

7.       If you weren’t the owner and running the fabulous Eco Existence, what would you be doing instead?

My dream is to be a philantropist…just have not won the lottery yet! I would love to devote my life to the greater good as I see it!

8.       What is your favourite thing to do on your down time?

In my down time I love a great workout to start the day. I am a cultural junkie…i can never get enough of what our great city has to offer…Love theater and music, really anything that can open my mind even further.