Plant-based diets are en vogue, whether it’s to benefit the planet, your bank account, or your waistline. In fact, some of the world’s top chefs are going vegetarian or vegan — even in Paris, land of sweet breads and paté. Canadian chefs are onboard, too. You can expect global veggie-centric head-turners on menus at every top eatery, but here are the country’s best vegan and vegetarian–focused restaurants.
A global foodie hot spot, Toronto is upping the ante when it comes to vegetable- and fruit-based entrees. And it’s not just quinoa and tofurkey, either. Vegans can tuck into mouthwatering tacos, burgers, and rice bowls at midtown’s Fresh on Eglinton and wash it all down with fresh, cold-pressed juice. Cozy, family-run Hibiscus Cafe is a Kensington Market institution, beloved for its hearty soups, crepes sweet (like vegan Dulce de Leche) and savory, 42-ingredient salad, and creamy house vegan ice cream.
In a modern, exposed-beam setting in Regina’s heritage district, Hunter Gatherer Vegetarian Diner dishes up imaginative fare. Billed as a rustic mom ‘n pop shop, it serves casual and hearty vegan and veg fare that's especially popular for lunch. Order the roasted sweet potato and apple soup or the melt of the day. Our favorite? The popular Mac ‘n Cheese Melt with tomato cabbage soup. Wash it down with a vegan chocolate brownie, milkshake, or root beer float.
Proud of its granola rep, BC’s West Coast is a vegetarian go-to for inventive cuisine. In Vancouver, you want to try meat-free Meet on Main for comfort food that’s vegan and gluten-free in a casual setting. Order the corn fritters, Groovy Gravy Fries, or tamarind ginger-chili-glazed cauliflower. More refined, many say rustic-chic The Acorn Restaurant serves the very best in town. Their outstanding cocktails and unconventional dishes are presented like works of art.
With two Winnipeg locations (plus three in Ontario), Boon Burger says it’s Canada’s first all-vegan burger joint. Take a seat in the urban brick warehouse cafe and go for the giant signature Boon Burger, a grilled mushroom-rice patty with red pepper-peach chutney, with sesame fries. The plant-based menu also includes pizza, sandwiches, doughnuts, and soft serve ice cream. The fact that most patrons aren’t even vegan says it all — it’s just plain tasty.
Prince Edward Island
Eco-minded Splendid Essence Restaurant serves vegetarian, Chinese, and Taiwanese cuisine — noodles, dumplings, and dim sum. The restaurant is set in charming downtown Charlottetown in an inviting, historic cottage that shares space with a Buddhist prayer hall. The menu includes a large number of vegetarian and vegan offerings, including tofu dishes and stirfrys. Dine outdoors on the porch in summer and sip one of their high-quality teas.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Run by an accommodating husband-wife team, Peaceful Loft in St. John’s is a 100% vegan Macau-style Chinese restaurants. Locals say that this place offers the most flavorful plant-based dishes in the province. Expect heaped servings of ultra-fresh food at bargain prices in a cheery space. The extensive menu includes soups, spring rolls, curries, cashew faux-chicken balls, and superb ginger sauces, and the genuine hosts — retirees from Macau — enjoy showering guests with samples.
Regulars rave about just about everything at downtown Edmonton’s Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant. Highlights include the braised tofu with lemongrass, chili peppers, and oyster mushrooms, as well as the handsome decor and friendly owners. This trendy place serves vegan Indonesian-Chinese with a bit of a twist. Favorites include satay, Tom Yum Soup, Roti Canai, Bakmi Goreng. For something new, go for weekend brunch and sample the banana-coconut French toast.
For brunch or lunch in Whitehorse, eat at charming, airy, always-busy Burnt Toast Café. This funky locals’ spot serves creative dishes in a lively atmosphere. It’s not solely vegetarian, but offers plenty of meat-free options. Enjoy views of downtown from a cushy leather banquette while you refuel on the Vegetarian Scramble with spinach and goat cheese, whole wheat Veggie Wrap with black beans and beets, or Moroccan Spiced Veggie Burger.
A Food Network top 10 in Canada, Montreal’s Lola Rosa has a small menu that's both colorful and delicious, making it a crossover hit with meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike. Choose from multiple locations serving vegetarian and vegan comfort food that spans global cuisines: Thai curry, Tunisian stew, spinach lasagna, load burritos, salads, and decadent house nachos.
Heartwood has been around since 1995 and there’s a reason. This place is dedicated to seasonal, organic, and locally sourced nourishing fare. Even the house wine is locally made. Tuck into consciously crafted vegan and vegetarian dishes, like creative salads, open-face sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas. But the real must-trys? Heaping signature bowls over brown rice or vermicelli. Try the creamy coconut curry sauce or light miso-sesame versions. The bistro-style eatery is situated on the pretty Halifax waterfront and the patio is a must, as is the PB cheesecake.