The Vegan Vancouver Guide for Non-Vegans
Whenever someone finds out that I live in Southern California, they always say something along the lines of, "oh it must be sooo easy being vegan there!". The truth is that it's not hard, but it's not as easy as it is in Vancouver, which is where I lived when I started my vegan journey. For me, Vancouver will always be one of the top cities to be vegan in because not only does it have amazing plant-based choices, but almost every restaurant (from franchises to dim sum spots) will have options for everyone.
I wasn't going to make a list about Vancouver's vegan culinary scene because there are already so many out there, but a lot of them only cover the strictly vegan restaurants, so I thought I would branch out for those of you who are travelling with omnivores and carnivores. Eating vegan isn't that complicated, but when you have a varied group of diets at one restaurant things can get awkward. Hopefully, my Vancouver list can placate even the toughest of critics and reduce some eye-rolling.
If I had to pick a place to go on a Friday night in Vancouver, it would be Bao Bei. It's a Chinese Brasserie with loads of vegan dishes on the menu and a great cocktail list. They don't take reservations so while you wait you can head over to Juniper or The Emerald for drinks / appies, both of which have vegan options. When you're done you can stop by The Keefer for more drinks. My favourite things to order at Bao Bei are the bean curd, the crispy tofu and the Sichuan cucumbers. Ok, now I'm starving...
For brunch, go to Heirloom, order the benny and fall in love with the deliciously crispy potatoes. The wait is long and it's always busy, but South Granville is a great area to stroll around while you wait for them to call you back. It's a vegetarian restaurant so they don't have meat, but it will satisfy anyone who "needs" eggs for breakfast. Most brunch places open pretty late in Vancouver, so if you're an early bird, check out Chambar, which is open everyday at 8am. They only have one vegan-friendly option, but they're always really great about accommodating different diets.
This is on many lists, but it's for good reason. Vij's (now on Cambie) has at least 4 vegan dishes they can make and it's incredible (famous) Indian food. I go for the pakoras, but they also have a great cocktail and wine selection, which is a nice departure from what you typically find at Indian restaurants in Vancouver. It should be noted that they use buttermilk in their naan, which I've been told is unusual, so if that's a must for your experience, better skip it and save the disappointment. If you're looking for Indian food with a bit less fuss, try Tandoori Fusion on W. Broadway.
A local girlfriend of mine with her finger on the pulse told me about Aleph, and I was immediately obsessed. It's a vegetarian, middle-eastern restaurant with some seriously epic saj bread and a plethora of tasty vegan options. If you're looking for a beer in the neighbourhood after you're done there, check out Parallel49 Brewing, which is right down the street and also has a vegan-friendly menu (waffle fries FTW).
Fayuca is a great Mexican-meets-pacific-northwest restaurant that surprised me with their varied vegan dishes. It's a fish and cheese heavy restaurant, but they were happy to accommodate me and make adjustments. I had the guac, cauliflower (which was huge) and grilled cactus, all of which were great for sharing and enjoyed by everyone at the table.
Earls is a Canadian franchise that's famous for its patio's in the summer and Bellini recipe all year round. If you're looking for something vegan, family-friendly and fast, this is the spot for you. They have an entire plant-based menu to choose from, but my favourite thing to eat there is the buffalo cauliflower.
There are some great vegan bakeries in Vancouver, but I'm obsessed with the coffee at Small Victory, which has two locations (Yaletown and South Granville) and one vegan option that I ate way too many times on my last visit. It's a chocolate and orange loaf that is equal part rich, moist and sinful. I've been told their traditional pastries are fantastic as well, so if you're visiting with a croissant aficionado, this might be the place for you.
I can't make a list of vegan spots in Vancouver and not mention The Acorn. It was named the number 1 vegan-friendly restaurant in the world in 2018, so you've probably already read all about it. Either way, I love this place and I wanted to write about it. Acorn is where I first realized that vegan food could be just as fancy and flavourful as regular food. It's also where I discovered fried artichoke, so it holds a special place in my heart. My favourite time to go is for brunch, they always have an amazing daily feature along with a fresh juice option that makes me feel better about ordering "chicken and waffles" as a meal. I would note that the portion sizes lean towards "fine dining", so if you're planning on bringing someone who needs a bigger meal, you might want to order accordingly.
Hope this list helps you discover something new for your next trip to Vancouver! xx