Vegan Eats in Vancouver

At last, my guide to vegan eating (and shopping) in Vancouver! I’ve put several years of R&D into this post… which means I’ve eaten lots and lots of delicious food, you’re welcome. Whether you’re a Vancouverite looking for your next tasty bite or a visitor touring our vegan scene, this list is for you.

I’m sure I’ve left some winners out. There are so many restaurants adding vegan menus these days, and I can’t keep up! My family doesn’t actually eat out a ton, so we haven’t tasted every possible option. If I’ve left out your faves, please add them in the comments—I will update this guide if we discover new spots.

Where to Get Brunch

I’m highlighting these restaurants for their brunch menus, because vegan brunch can be a little harder to come by and we all know brunch is the most important meal of the weekend. But they all do lunch and dinner as well, so it’s worth checking them all out later in the day, too, if that fits your schedule or needs better.

Heirloom

Heirloom is a vegetarian restaurant with two locations (South Granville and the North Shore). They do upscale, health-conscious yet flavourful food in an elegant space. This is where we take more conservative family members when they’re visiting, or treat ourselves to a parents-only meal out.

Virtuous Pie brunch pizzas

Virtuous Pie brunch pizzas

Virtuous Pie

This is a pizza spot, but they do a really unique brunch with innovative ingredients and house-made cheeses. In Vancouver, you can find them in Chinatown and at UBC (they also have locations in Portland and Toronto). Try any of their brunch pizzas—they’re all good. The breakfast sandwich is also a popular option.

Chickpea

Chickpea is a fun, friendly all-vegan spot doing Mediterranean comfort food. I especially appreciate that the brunch menu offers something a little different than your standard tofu scramble (not that I don’t absolutely love tofu scramble, but some variety is nice). I like the frittata, Arden likes the chickcheese sandwich, and the kids like the French toast. Bonus: during the day, they have a little play area for the kids, which if you’re a parent you know is worth millions of dollars. (They also have a roving food truck.)

Tofu scramble from the Naam, with plenty of guacamole and a delicious salad dressing on the side.

Tofu scramble from the Naam, with plenty of guacamole and a delicious salad dressing on the side.

The Naam

The Naam has been around since 1968 and they’re still serving that straight-up vegetarian comfort food of yore. I went vegetarian in the 90s so this place has a certain nostalgia for me, although these days I find the menu to be mostly things I can make myself at home more easily than hauling my family to a restaurant. Nevertheless, the brunch is inexpensive and hearty, the portions huge, and the food good quality. When we’re in Kitsilano and in the mood for a filling sit-down meal, this is our go-to. The Naam is open 24 hours, if you’re hungry at an unusual hour of the day.

Bandidas Taqueria

Bandidas does a hearty vegetarian Mexican-influenced brunch, with fresh ingredients, fair prices, generous portions, and excellent handmade tortillas. It’s owned by a pair of female entrepreneurs who are dedicated to supporting community, which is reason enough alone to get yourself to this warm, inviting spot. Bring the kids because they’re most welcome there.

Wallflower

The Wallflower is a non-veg restaurant geared towards a younger crowd. They do a full vegan menu, because this is Vancouver, where a vegan menu is a must if you’re a restaurant geared towards a younger crowd. If you’re in the neighbourhood and in the mood for a diner-style brunch, this is a good option. The vegan omelet is especially tasty.

Where to Get Lunch

For me, lunch means something more casual and quicker than dinner. Obviously the dinner spots can double as lunch spots if that fits your schedule and needs better.

Juice Truck

The Juice Truck started off as a… juice truck… but it has expanded to multiple locations with a menu that’s so much more than just juice. They also host community events, from workshops to book launches, and are just generally the kind of business that enriches the world. The menu rotates so be sure to check the site to see what’s cooking while you’re nearby. This is a great spot for expertly prepared bowls, salads, smoothies, juices, and healthier treats.

Burrito boys Arden and toddler Harlan at Budgie’s. They also do kids burritos for a bargain price.

Burrito boys Arden and toddler Harlan at Budgie’s. They also do kids burritos for a bargain price.

Budgies Burritos

Budgie’s is a casual vegetarian burrito spot near Main and Broadway. Order the jamedog burrito with garlic roasted potatoes, and don’t miss the smoky house-made “chili paste” (it’s not actually that spicy) that is epically delicious and totally unique.

Kokomo

Kokomo has two locations—Chinatown and Kitsilano—and a rotating, health-conscious, delicious fully plant-based menu. This is your spot for a casual bowl in a beautiful space when you’re exploring Chinatown or chilling at Kits. The golden laksa noodles are to die for.

Turf

Turf is an interesting concept executed beautifully: a workout studio, cafe, and shop along bustling 4th Ave in Kits. They have a mostly plant-based menu that changes often, so check the site when you’re nearby. If you’re in the mood for a next-level toast, this is your spot—and just now I see they’ve added an eggplant reuben, which is my love language so I’ll be sure to try it and report back.

Chau

I’m partial to noodles and Asian flavours, so this delicious Vietnamese-inspired plant-based spot is near the top of my list of faves. Actually, they have two locations: a take-out kiosk at Granville Island Market, and a counter-service restaurant at Victoria and 34th. I love the golden temple soup and the tropical rainstorm bowl. Don’t miss their unique ice cream offerings, with rotating flavours like Thai milk tea and caramelized banana.

Eternal Abundance

Eternal Abundance is an all-organic, all-vegan grocer and cafe on Commercial Drive. If you’re in the area and in the mood for a snack, try the miso-walnut nori rolls. The raw onion bread is also surprisingly addictive. You can also pick up all kinds of useful and delicious things, from veggie starts in the spring/summer (where my fellow gardeners at?) to cookbooks. They also stock Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese, hallelujah.

Where To Get Dinner

Meet

Meet has three all-vegan locations: Main Street, Gastown, and Yaletown, all of which are beautiful and hip. This is vegan dining 2.0 and an absolute must if you’re visiting. They have an interesting, varied food menu and are always experimenting with innovative specials. The drink menu is great too. I like the meet burger, the angry burg(er), the Seoul bowl, and the macro bowl. (Bowls = ask for extra sauce.)

Po Kong

Po Kong is at the top of my list of faves, and it’s always where I want to go with my family on my birthday. This vegetarian Chinese institution used to be on Main and 14th, one of Vancouver’s only vegetarian restaurants at the time. I first had seitan here about 20 years ago and couldn’t believe it wasn’t meat. While the next generation of delicious vegan meats are rightly getting lots of buzz these days, Chinese Buddhists have been perfecting the art of animal-free meats for centuries and have it down, too. Thanks to Vancouver’s large Chinese population and corresponding restaurants, I consider vegan Chinese a must if you’re in town, and Po Kong is my go-to—for dim sum, or for dinner. Go with the biggest group you can rally because the portions are huge and you order family-style. We like the jai combo (mixed cold seitan appetizer), the hot and sour soup, the bean curd skin rolls with black bean sauce (never met a person who doesn’t flip for these), sweet and sour pineapple delight, kung po chicken (not on the fixed menu, find it on the table card), vegetarian cutlet with orange sauce, and sizzling black pepper steak. Round it out with a noodle dish, some rice, and a vegetable dish.

Plates at The Acorn are works of art.

Plates at The Acorn are works of art.

The Acorn

The Acorn is elevated vegetarian dining, and it’s the place to bring your foodie friend or lover for a special-occasion meal. The menu changes seasonally—ask your server for current vegan recommendations. Get there early or be prepared to wait for a table, because this is a small space and it’s popular.

The Arbor

The Arbor is the casual sister restaurant to The Acorn. The vegetarian menu is innovative, indulgent, and unique, and no I didn’t pick those three “i” adjectives only for the alliteration satisfaction. For something a little different, try the fried artichoke sandwich with eggplant bacon, avocado mousse, coleslaw, and spicy mayo, and if you’re there on a warm day, be sure to check out the beautiful back patio.

Vegan Pizza House

If, like me, you grew up ordering special occasion pizza and baked pasta from those westernized Italian joints that use a little bun to prop the pizza box up, you’ll enjoy this underrated hole in the wall as much as I do. My idea of the ultimate in comfort food is a meat lover’s pizza, and a baked lasagne with vegan meatballs and mushrooms. Order a ranch dip for your pizza crusts and please enjoy the trip down memory lane.

House of Dosas

If you’ve never had dosas before, I insist you try one immediately. If you’re not familiar, dosas are enormous fermented crepes commonly served for breakfast in South India. They have a strong flavour though and are really filling, so for us, this is more of a dinner food. We always go for the plain old masala dosa, which is stuffed with perfectly seasoned potato and served with chutneys (coconut and tomato) and a spicy red lentil soup. There are plenty of decent dosa spots in Vancouver—we go to House of Dosas because it’s closer to us, the dosas aren’t too spicy for the kids, and they’re delicious and inexpensive. But don’t go out of your way if there’s a highly rated one closer to you.

Nuba

Many years ago I was living on Davie Street and a little Lebanese restaurant called Nuba opened a counter service location on Seymour, around the corner from me. One bite of the lemony “Najib’s special” cauliflower and I was hooked. In those days, the bursting, complex, inherently plant-based flavours of Lebanese food were new to me and I was like WHAT DID I JUST EAT. I haven’t actually been to Nuba in years, but if you like Lebanese food (who doesn’t?) you can’t go wrong here. They have four locations (Gastown, Kits, Mt Pleasant, and Yaletown).

Jam Jar

On a similar note, Jam Jar does fresh, flavourful Lebanese food that is naturally very vegan-friendly, thanks to the cuisine’s focus on falafel, hummus, tahini (vs dairy) for creaminess, and plenty of vegetables. Jam Jar has locations in South Granville and Commercial Drive, which is in our ‘hood and a go-to spot for us for a nicer meal out. Whatever you do, don’t miss the makali—cauliflower tossed with pomegranate molasses.

What’s Up Hot Dog

What's Up Hot Dog is a fun, punky pub in Hastings-Sunrise with plenty of vegan options. (I know it’s the pinnacle of dorky mom to refer to a hipster bar as “FUN!” but, I mean, they dress up as Bob’s Burgers for Halloween, I rest my case.) It’s on the grungy side, so probably not the place to bring your suburb-dwelling boomer relatives, and it’s a tiny space, not ideal for larger groups. Monday nights are vegan wing nights, with variety of flavours and dips. I’m partial to hot wings with dill ranch sauce, which pair well with the tangy caesar salad with fried capers, and a pint of beer.

Fassil Ethiopian

If you’re not familiar, Ethiopian food is a dream for vegetarians. Lentils, split peas, and veggies are seasoned to high heaven then served on injera, a giant spongy sourdough crepe made from teff. Teff is a powerhouse grain that’s particularly rich in iron, among other minerals and vitamins. I’ve tried all of the Ethiopian spots in Vancouver and Toronto and Fassil is my fave—not overly oily (a hazard with this cuisine) and a good mix of dishes. Alister is partially made of Fassil’s veggie combo because this is what I craved while pregnant with him.

Take-out vegan feast from Kulinarya. Bring your own containers, they’ll happily use them instead of single use!

Take-out vegan feast from Kulinarya. Bring your own containers, they’ll happily use them instead of single use!

Kulinarya

Filipino food is known for being heavy on animal ingredients, but this welcoming spot on the Drive has a separate vegan menu and a sign out front reading “vegans welcome!” I’d make a special effort to get here, if only because vegan filipino food is such a rarity. Try the batil patong (noodles), talong ensalata (grilled eggplant salad), ginataang kalabasa (squash curry), and sizzling tofu sisig (crispy tofu).

East is East

If you’re in the mood for a sensuous eating experience, East is East offers Eastern fusion in a magical atmosphere. Although not fully vegan, the cuisines they draw inspiration from (Afghani, Persian, Indian, Lebanese, Tibetan) are naturally vegan-friendly, thanks to an emphasis on legumes and minimal use of dairy. East is East has been around for a long time, with two locations—Main St and Point Grey. Go with a date and order the Chai Feast, a tasting menu that allows you to sample from all over the menu.

Yew

Yew is the swanky restaurant in the Four Seasons, and they have a separate vegan menu that changes often. It’s located in the heart of the financial district downtown. It’s easily the priciest spot on this list, but if you have a meeting with a client or colleague that calls for professional-level hospitality and a more private table, this is your best option.

Where to Get a Treat

Cartems

I’m just going to go ahead and say these are the best donuts ever. I’m not the only one who thinks so, which is probably why this dedicated donut shop has already expanded to three locations (downtown, Mt Pleasant, and Kits). You can also find them around town, including The Drive Coffee Bar in my ‘hood. Not all of their donuts are vegan, but most are. The apple fritter is perfection but personally I can’t resist the stuffed donuts (which rotate monthly, I believe).

Umaluma

Don’t miss this dairy-free ice cream spot in Chinatown! Umaluma does creamy, rich ice cream in innovative and constantly evolving flavours with quality ingredients. You can also find some of their more popular flavours in pints all over town.

To Die For

This is a wholesale vegan bakery using small-batch ingredients and methods to make the BEST banana bread and lemon loaf—vegan or not. They also make energy balls and breakfast cookies for a more nutrient-packed bite that’s equally delicious. Thanks to their wholesale model, To Die For ensures that vegan treats are available all over town. No trip to Vancouver is complete without a slice of the lemon loaf.

Chocolate Arts

If you need a box of beautiful, delicious chocolates, head to Chocolate Arts, which has a wide selection of vegan chocolates, including some filled ones. The staff are very knowledgable about their offerings, so just ask what’s vegan. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate while you’re there, after sampling from among their single-origin chocolate chips and making your selection.

Fairy Cakes

I was recently at a baby shower and they served a cake from Fairy Cakes that was absolutely delicious. Everyone was raving about it! This will be my new go-to spot for when I want to order a cake for a special occasion. Their storefront is conveniently located next to vegan shoe store Nice Shoes (see below).

Sweet Cherubim

Sweet Cherubim is a vegetarian cafe and grocer doing mostly Indian cuisine. They have a dazzling display of health-conscious vegan treats. Try the chocolate-dipped macaroon, which is almost as big as your face. I also like the Turtles-inspired pecan bars.

Where to Shop

Vegan Supply

An all-vegan grocer and retail store! This is well worth checking out if you’re vegan and you like to peruse the many products now available while reflecting on how the movement is exploding. It’s also worth checking out if you’re not vegan and need to be convinced that there’s an option for everything. You can pick up personal hygiene products, apparel and accessories while you’re there, too.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron is Vancouver’s only vegan cheese shop. They’re open for limited hours on the weekend at their production space on Main Street. I haven’t actually made it to the store myself, but I’ve tried their cheese, and as you’d expect for plant-based cheeses cultured in the traditional cheese-making way, it’s delicious. Go here if only because going to a vegan cheese shop is a novelty.

Nice Shoes

If you need footwear, be sure to check out Canada’s first vegan shoe store, aptly named Nice Shoes and run by a local family. They stock a wide range of shoes—dress, casual, boots etc—as well as bags, belts, wallets, and other accessories.

Native Shoes

Global vegan shoe company Native Shoes recently opened up a flagship store in Gastown, which is a beautiful space with a living wall and worth checking out if you’re in the area (it happens to be across the courtyard from Meet in Gastown). Their Liteknit hightops are my current everyday shoes.

Phew, that’s a long list! Next up, I’m putting together a weekend itinerary. Stay tuned…