Toronto is an incredibly vegan-friendly city providing a vast abundance of vegetarian and vegan restaurants from which to choose. Not only are there plenty of vegan restaurants and bakeries, but there are also incredible resources within the city, such as events devoted entirely to vegetarianism in Toronto. Let’s explore a small selection of the many vegan restaurants in the city, which are amongst my personal favourites.
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with a wide variety of ethnic restaurants. When it comes to vegetarian restaurants, this is no exception – we have a wealth of vegan food based on cuisine from around the world right in our own city!
From Chinese food to Mexican food, Indian food to Italian cuisine, we’ve got a restaurant for all tastes. Every time Justin and I spend the day in Toronto, we hit up another new vegan-friendly restaurant. Considering how close we live to the city (about a 10 minute drive) and how many times we’ve gone there, we’ve still yet to eat at every vegan restaurant in Toronto (and that definitely must tell you that Toronto is super veggie friendly!). Here are a few of my favourite places:
Fresh has a special place in my heart as being the first vegan restaurant that I ever visited in Toronto. They’ve been around since 1999, and currently have expanded having four different locations throughout the city. Fresh is first and foremost a juice bar, where you can get freshly squeezed juices.
As for the food, they serve a variety of salads, wraps, soups and bowls – all very healthy, and all super tasty! Fresh even has their own cookbooks that are available in store and online, so you can cook your favourite dishes back at home when you’re away from Toronto.
You pretty much have to get a smoothie while you’re here. They’re just so good! If you’ve been walking around all day, these will surely quench your thirst as they are so refreshing. Whatever you decide on for your main dish, be sure to start off the meal with the quinoa onion rings and garlic mayo. They’re a great little indulgence and the puffed quinoa around the outside makes them entirely unique.
Sticking with the juice bar theme, Sadie’s Diner is another place that you must visit while you’re in Toronto. In addition to fresh juices, they offer organic coffee, making it stand out from your typical diner. Sadie’s is an all-vegetarian restaurant, but pretty much everything on the menu has a vegan option, which is wonderful for both Justin and I! Sadie’s is decorated like a 50’s diner with funky tables and chairs, and even a wall of old Pez dispensers from the owner’s personal collection!
They have an all-day breakfast option on the menu for all of you breakfast-lovers out there (or those who wake up too late and often miss out on breakfast at restaurants!). Like a traditional diner, there are plenty of deep fried options available on the menu, as well as lighter salads and wraps. My favourites include the vegan pierogis or the Cajun Tofu Quesadilla. You can also wrap up your meal with something sweet, like a vegan donut or muffin!
One Love Vegetarian
Justin and I visited One Love Vegetarian restaurant last year and I’m still dreaming about the food there! It is a Caribbean restaurant that solely serves vegan food, including bowls, roti and soup. We each had a bowl while we were there (Justin got a BBQ Tofu bowl, and I got a chickpea bowl) and it was hearty, satisfying and delicious. I loved the fried plantains on top, which made me dream about visiting the Caribbean during a cold day in Toronto. They also have vegan dessert there, too, and we couldn’t resist their cupcakes!
Disgraceland is a really fun bar and restaurant located near many of the museums in Toronto. So, if you find yourself pursuing some educational enjoyment during the day, you might want to relax and have some yummy food and drinks at Disgraceland. This restaurant is friendly to both omnivores and vegetarians, as they have almost the entire menu with the meat-version and the vegetarian-version alongside it. This would be a great place to go with friends who might not be as open to eating vegetarian food as there would be something for everyone! There are also free board games to play, as well as a pool table and a pinball machine, so you could easily spend hours here playing games with friends!
We ordered two veggie burgers with fries, “popcorn” tofu (tofu done KFC style!), and vegan pierogis. There are plenty of different toppings to choose from for the burgers. If you’re a fan of fries, there is an entire section of the menu devoted to fries. Visiting Canada and want to get one of our traditional dishes, poutine, but don’t eat gravy or cheese? Fear not! There are a whole bunch of different vegan poutines to try! And if you’re feeling like an alcoholic beverage, there is an extensive cocktail list and tons of different beers on tap.
Here are some of my honourable mentions of restaurants to try:
A hip Mexican restaurant in the Kensington Market area (a must-visit area if you go to Toronto!). They serve all vegan burritos, tacos, nachos, and burrito bowls that won’t have you missing meat or dairy at all.
A vegan bistro serving Asian-fusion cuisine, near Kensington Market and Chinatown. We recommend trying the Pad Thai or the Sizzling Seitan in Black Pepper Sauce.
A raw, organic restaurant with some cooked options on the menu. One of Toronto’s premier raw vegan restaurants with a popular line of raw food and snacks sold in local natural grocery stores in the area. The owners are very committed to the environment and creating healthy food for all to enjoy.
Toronto is also home to many vegan bakeries for those who have a sweet tooth. In many cases, the bakeries serve gluten-free baked goods as well, making them a great choice for anyone with food allergies. There is almost a vegan bakery in every neighbourhood of the city, so you shouldn’t have a problem making it out to one for some treats while you’re in Toronto! In many cases, you’ll find cupcakes, pie, donuts, cinnamon buns, muffins, chocolate, and so much more.
Toronto’s first eat-in vegan bakery and cafe offers fresh-baked (and raw) treats that radiate goodness, made with love in an eco-friendly, dairy-free, egg-free, casein-free, and refined sugar-free environment. You can also enjoy a warm beverage here, like a soy latte!
Relatively new on the scene, Through Being Cool is known for their delicious vegan donuts in a huge variety of flavours, ranging from regular kinds like chocolate and cinnamon sugar to more elaborate tastes, like maple bacon, espresso, Earl Gray tea, and banana cream/peanut butter/chocolate! All of their baked goods are vegan and they also serve up tasty morsels like pizza rolls, cinnamon rolls, croissants, butter and lemon tarts, cookies and cookie sandwiches, lemon blueberry squares, brownies, and more.
This bakery is 100% gluten-free and vegan and known for their delicious cakes and cupcakes. They offer different items seasonally, such as apple pies in the Fall, and Easter chocolate cream eggs (like the Cadbury’s ones, only vegan!) in the Spring. They also offer freshly baked bread, cinnamon buns, muffins, and more.
They’re well known around the Vegetarian Food Fair and Farmer’s Markets, but recently opened their own storefront. Apiecalpyse Now has the best pies around, as well as other yummy vegan baked goods. Proceeds from some items go towards animal-related charities, too, so it’s a win-win: eat yummy food, and help animals!
Vegetarian Events in Toronto
There are a couple of notable events in the city that cater to vegetarians, so if you’re thinking of visiting Toronto, you might want to adjust your travel plans accordingly!
Vegetarian Food Fair
The Vegetarian Food Fair in Toronto is the largest vegetarian food festival in North America, and one of the longest running! In 2012, they estimate that a whopping 40,000 people came out to enjoy some delicious vegetarian goodness. The event will be celebrating their 30th year in 2014. The festival typically runs during the first weekend of September for three days (Friday-Sunday). This fair is a celebration of vegan food that attracts vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Many companies set up tables with tons of free samples, so you’ll get to try out the latest and greatest new products.
There are guest speakers (last year, we saw Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary speak!), events (a world record for weight-lifting was broken last year by a vegan bodybuilder!), cooking demos (we saw Chef Roberto Martin, Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi’s private chef cook for us!), music, and of course, lots of yummy vegan food to eat and buy.
Oh, and the Vegetarian Food Fair is 100% free to attend, so everyone in the city regardless of financial status is welcome to attend and partake in the celebrations! The event is hosted by the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA), which has been around since 1945!
Veggielicious is a foodie event that takes place in November each year in Toronto. It is a celebration of vegetarian food at over 40 locations throughout the city. Restaurants offer a vegetarian meal at a fixed price, often for much less than it would normally cost. The locations may be vegetarian restaurants or a non-vegetarian restaurants willing to offer a vegan meal. People are encouraged to try out new restaurants and new types of vegetarian cuisine during this time!
Justin and I visited Grasslands, an upscale vegan restaurant in Toronto. We had wanted to go to Grasslands for a while, but it tends to be more on the expensive side as it is a classy place with inspired meals created by their head chef.
The fixed price Veggielicious menu at Grasslands was $30 (£16.20) and included:
- Starter: seasonal soup or kale Caesar salad with grape tomatoes, tempeh bacon, sesame vegan parmesan, house caesar dressing
- Main: pasta (chef’s special) with seasonal produce (gluten free option available)
- Wine Pairing: 2011, Buensas Ondas Organic Red Wine, Argentina
The meal was absolutely delicious and we will have to go back to Grasslands someday. It is on the top of our list for vegan restaurants in Toronto, and we will have to go there for our next special occasion!
The best website to browse before you visit Toronto is the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s website. There are listings for all of the vegetarian, vegan, and vegetarian-friendly bakeries, restaurants, and cafes in the city, listed geographically and alphabetically, so you’ll be able to plan according to where you’ll be staying or visiting when you’re here. You can also read about the many other events that happen in Toronto that are geared towards vegetarian cuisine.
There’s also the ever-popular Happy Cow website and app, which does a great job of showing where all of the vegetarian restaurants are located, along with reviews!
All in all, Toronto is such an amazing and vibrant city, and to top it all off, it has so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants to choose from. You’ll never go hungry visiting Toronto!
If you’re planning a vegan trip across Canada, don’t forget to check out our vegan guide to Vancouver too!
Lauren is one half of Justin Plus Lauren, a travel blog that she writes with her boyfriend, Justin. These two Canadians have traveled throughout North America so far, and hope to slowly travel all over the world. Both Lauren and Justin are passionate about veganism and seek plant-based meals wherever they go. They share a love for photography, video editing, enjoying new adventures together and sharing their stories. They also blog about their cute kitten, Chickpea. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+ and Instagram.
To find out more about how we travel as vegans, get our free ebook “How We Travel as Gay, Vegan, Digital Nomads” when you sign up to our monthly newsletter with the form below!