The History of To Live For Bakery
Baking and selling banana bread was never on founder Erin Ireland’s to-do list. As a cash-strapped broadcaster, she turned to baking as a practical way to make gifts for her friends. But the feedback (especially for her banana bread) was too much to ignore, so Erin decided she’d start selling the loaves to anyone who was interested.
…Turned out a lot of people were interested! Somehow, her humble homemade treat had taken on a life of its own. Erin found inventive ways to keep up with demand—including carrying a loaf in her purse at all times—until word got totally and completely out on social media.
A rave review from a Michelin Star chef, a personal order from a TV Bachelorette, a signing session with our own Vancouver Canucks, a phone call from Dragon’s Den, and, most importantly, a growing appreciation from the community. The loaf had become a certified celebrity.
Erin realized it was time to turn the hobby into a business. And with that, To Die For Fine Foods was born.
Now an official member of the food industry, Erin decided to learn more about where ingredients came from, and what went into producing them. What she discovered ignited her vegan journey—personally and professionally. She took all our recipes back to the drawing board, and To Die For went fully vegan.
Nobody noticed the switch. But that was the point! We wanted to prove that slaughter-free foods don’t have to taste like a compromise. So we did everything we could to ensure our veganized treats were as delicious as ever. (And, for the record, we actually think they taste better now.)
The experience inspired a new company mission—and name change. After all, making and sharing food is an act of love, vibrancy, and life. And replacing the factory-farm-ingredient-laden baked goods we’re used to seeing on shelves with less cruel (and more delicious!) options won’t happen overnight.
To Live For is way bigger than banana bread. It paves the way toward a better future for everyone—and every animal.
A message from Erin
It’s no secret I’ve always had high standards when it comes to flavour. That’s probably one of the reasons we only have a six-product menu after nine years of business! Recipe testing is a grueling process. We bake dozens and dozens of iterations until we finally find the batch that makes us say, “OMG, I cannot stop eating this!!!” That’s when we know it’s ready to be put into production.
I’ve always been so in love with the experience of tasting extra delicious food—I yearn for those next-level amazing bites. That’s why I originally named the company To Die For—to show we’d only serve treats we felt were the be-all end-all of deliciousness.
This business has been like a passion project for me. Amazing food just excites me so much. The only thing better than eating it, is sharing it with others. This is why I continue to share and promote truly amazing products from other local vegan bakeries rather than focus entirely on my own stuff. I don’t care who makes it—I just want to direct people in the direction of the best most amazing food!!
Years ago, when I was just getting into the world of commercial baking, I remember seeing an industrial-sized can of bananas on my kitchen neighbour’s shelf. I gawked at its size and wondered what it could be for. Upon research, I learned that most larger bakeries use canned bananas (barf) and even banana flavouring for their banana breads. I was in shock that anyone would try to make banana bread without regular old brown bananas. As things went on, I saw more shortcuts that food companies would take in the name of profit. I vowed to never be one of them. Profit has, and never will be, more important to me than a product’s deliciousness and overall integrity. To this day, we hand peel our bananas and mash them with our mixer. Hands down you can taste the difference.
Another eye-opening experience for me was learning about how animal products were produced. I remember I posted an Instagram photo of myself and my then-baker, Thibault, cracking eggs into a large bowl. I was proud that they were free-range eggs — a fact I shared in my caption. Someone commented that it was “better to go egg-free” and shared a link with facts about the egg industry. She went on to say that cruelty-free animal products just don’t exist. So, I went down the vegan wormhole watching documentaries and reading books and realized that continuing to use animal products in my baking would be supporting animal abuse. I couldn’t be complicit in that. And I had tried some vegan baking before so knew how delicious it could be. I made a commitment to remove all animal products from our baked goods. Thanks to the help of Chefs Karen McAthy and Fabrizio Busso, who are both highly experienced when it comes to larger scale recipes (not my forte!), the new loaves were born and they were indistinguishable from the original versions. I received zero complaints from customers about the new loaves. They were just as delicious.
My new mission was to prove that vegan baking wasn’t just edible…it was more delicious than its factory-farm-product-filled counterpart…and, to replace as many of the old school, non-vegan baked goods out there on cafe shelves with truly must-have, secretly vegan items. I want people to see how amazing vegan food can be…and I want to win them over with their taste buds.
Our bakery is located on the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. As settlers on this land, we are committed and passionate about being anti-racist allies.