I’m from a Chinese family and so meat has always been a staple of my family and culture. A meal wasn’t considered a meal unless there were substantial portions of meat. Growing up, my friends’ favourite restaurant was Mcdonald’s. We devoured Chicken Nuggets, Big Macs and Fillet O’Fish’s after school every day. I loved eating meat as much as my friends did.
However, one day I went on a local tour of farms in the area and realized the environmental impact that eating meat had on the earth and I slowly weaned myself off of meat. But with this dietary change, I soon encountered many new challenges. I miss eating all types of meat, particularly steaks, and my food budget has almost doubled.
One challenge that I did not foresee was the difficulties in traveling. When you’re vegan, it becomes extremely more difficult to find restaurants when traveling. Many countries are not used to the idea of veganism such as Korea and do not have tailored menus. But perhaps the greatest challenges arise when you don’t even speak the local language and try to find an adequate meal. It is nearly impossible without a detailed and well thought-out plan.
Fortunately, Toronto is very accommodating to diverse diets and has an amazing palate of vegan dishes. Many restaurants take advantage of local farms and compose their dishes from organic and fresh ingredients. Having lived in Toronto for 7 years, I’ve had the opportunity to look high and low through the different neighbourhoods of Toronto and find the best vegan restaurants in Toronto. So fear not Toronto travellers as your vegan appetite is sure to be sated in the Six. Here are my top 3 favourite restaurants (in no particular order) that serve Vegan Food in Toronto:
1. Doomie’s Home Cookin’
Doomie’s is the new hottest vegan restaurant in town just opened on April 28 at Queen and Dufferin. The founder, Doomie, started the original restaurant when he got tired of eating unappetizing vegan food with his vegetarian friends. They are known for their vegan fast food and comfort food with some of their notable menu items like their vegan Big Mac (“Vegan Mac Daddy”), pulled pork, and fried mac and cheese balls. Personally, I have never tasted a better vegan hamburger than the hot sizzling sandwich from Doomie’s.
Perhaps Toronto’s most popular nickname is Hogtown named after Torontonian’s hog like tendencies and the abundance of hogs in the 1800’s. However, Hogtown Vegan is the opposite of Toronto’s hog-like past in their Southern USA dishes. Hogtown Vegan is located at Bloor and Dufferin and is a quaint little dinner with mouth-watering dishes. The courses are unique and well prepared like the Unchicken & Waffles and the Hot Roast “Beef” Sandwich. Needless to say, I walked out with a full and satisfied stomach.
Vegetarian Haven has been a staple in the Toronto community for many years now inside of Baldwin Village at Dundas and University. It is unique in that it is an Asian inspired cuisine with a vegan only menu. The service was quite friendly and the décor has a hipster feel. I ordered the Moroccan Wrap with Fresh Garden Salad and the vegetables tasted fresh and the dish was made to perfection with an amazing blend of ingredients. I had never tried Tofu Ice Cream and it didn’t disappoint. The Vanilla Ice Cream was phenomenal and it was the perfect ending to a hearty meal.
Bonus grocery store: YamChops
YamChops is a vegetarian butcher chop which at first glance sounds like an oxymoron. But they offer items like Beet Burgers and Chick’n Cutlets and Tuna-Less Tuna. Their products are fresh and creative and are suitable to everyone whether soy-free or gluten free. They are located at College and Ossington but they have their products in numerous health stores around the city. In fact, they even appeared on CBC’s Dragon Den to pitch to investors and walked out with a substantial deal!
Lokafy – Take Travel Personally
Travelling as a vegan is complicated and can be quite exasperating. There are different cultural norms, language barriers and expectations. That’s why Lokafy is so unique as it’s like having a friend show you around the city! It’s a great way to meet locals in Paris, New York City or Toronto and go on an authentic local tour. Try it today to experience the best local vegan food in town.