Although vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more commonplace in today’s society, it still surprises me to see shocked reactions from people when I hear others announce their dedication to a plant-based diet. Statements such as, “aren’t you, like, always hungry?” and of course, the winner of them all: “But bacooooooooon.” Ultimately, the reasons behind one’s decision to abstain from eating animal-based food products are entirely personal. Even so, it’s hard to convince your meat-eating friends that vegetarian food is more than than just bags of iceberg lettuce and bland tofu.
This is a guide for those who are willing to leave their judgements about eating vegetarian at the door. This is a guide for adventurous eaters, for those who want to try something that’s a little bit different, a little bit unconventional, and perhaps even a little bit daunting. This is for those who just want to have a really delicious meal before they spend two hours in lecture, getting drunk off knowledge.
I can’t promise you anything, but one thing I can do is guarantee you won’t be hungry in the next hour and your tummies will be very satisfied. Here are several restaurants that are not only veg-friendly, but also delicious.
A good indicator of whether or not a restaurant is worth trying out is the presence of a not-so-secret, “secret” menu. The Burger’s Priest has it, and so does Hot Beans. Vegan burritos and tacos are the restaurant’s featured fare. While Hot Beans does use mock meats as burrito filler, it does not try to replace your standard burrito. I would advise against ordering the Mac ‘n’ Cheese burrito — vegan mac and cheese is an ambitious endeavour, and the mac here in conjunction with the fried potatoes makes for a rather bland burrito experience. Personal recommendations would include the TVP burrito and the pizza tacos off of Hot Bean’s secret menu.
Address: 160 Baldwin St. #1 (Kensington Market)
Here at Grasshopper, the speciality is “cross-cultural comfort food.” Their vegan take on pulled pork and grilled chicken banh mi sandwiches are top notch, although the crust of the French baguette that they make their sandwiches with have a tendency to be more on the softer side than I would personally like it. The beauty of banh mi is how easy it is to walk in and eat, and there are no exceptions made here at Grasshopper. It’s open till 9:00 on weekdays and till 10:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, making it a pretty good alternative for post-evening class eats.
Address: 310 College St. (College and Spadina)
APieCalypse Now! is a bakery dedicated to delicious vegan desserts and other tasty little treats. The owner, Jennifer Bundock, has won numerous awards around Toronto for her meat and dairy-free creations. Those who are hesitant to believe that good vegan treats exists should try one of Bundock’s massive cookie sandwiches. Available in vanilla and chocolate, these treats can be a bit overpowering, but will surely to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Plan your visit accordingly because APieCalypse is only open Thursday to Saturday.
Address: 589 Markham St. (Mirvish Village)
One lone vegetarian
Surprisingly enough, One Love is the only vegetarian restaurant that actually boasts the word “vegetarian” in its name. If you don’t know what love is, I should let you know that it will probably manifest itself in a roti. Traditional Caribbean roti comes with a variety of different stuffings, with meat as the main component. However, One Love doesn’t try to make mock meat versions of traditional favourites. Instead, they do their own special take on the roti. You can get your roti with the vegan protein staple — textured vegetable protein (TVP) or chickpeas, but the clear favourite has and probably will always be the seasoned Jamaican pumpkin roti.
Address: 854 Bathurst St. (Bathurst and Bloor)
Honorable mention: The Burger’s Priest
The Burger’s Priest is home to one of the best beef burgers in the city, however, the true star here is the “Option,” one of the most killer veggie burgers anyone could ever feast on. It defies everything we know about vegetarian burgers. The “Option” is composed of two juicy portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese. The Priest takes it a step further by coating the whole thing in panko-style bread crumbs, and then deep frying it until it is nice and crispy. It’s delicious enough to turn any veg-skeptic into a true believer.
Address: 1636 Queen St. E. (The Beaches)
A final note
Another place worth visiting is Harvest Noon, the student-run cafe located above the Grad Student Pub. Furthermore, Kensington Market is a goldmine for vegetarian options. In fact, the last time I went to Kensington Market with a friend who wasn’t so keen on eating tempeh for lunch, we went into a number of restaurants in search for “anything with meat.”