More and more people today are turning to plant-based diets. You don’t need to be an animal rights activist for it to be appealing – there are many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet. Going vegan can help you lose excess weight, protect against certain cancers, and has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Plant-based diets are also awesome for the health of the planet. It has been reported that reducing or eliminating meat consumption is the single most impactful choice an individual can make to help the environment.
Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable. A shift away from meat consumption could increase the global food supply without increasing land usage, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce waste products that contaminate water tables and oceans. In one year, the animal husbandry industry generates carbon emissions equal to the entire transportation sector. Going plant-based could reduce global water usage by as much a 50% – that’s how much fresh water the industry currently consumes.
Now that you know why plant-based is good. Where do you go to get good-tasting, plant-based food in Toronto? We’re glad you asked! Here’s where to eat vegan in Toronto.
Fresh was one of the early plant-based trail blazers in Toronto. They first opened their doors in 1999. Today there are four great locations to choose from – Fresh on Eglinton (90 Eglinton Avenue East), Fresh on Bloor (326 Bloor Street West), Fresh on Crawford (894 Queen Street West) and Fresh on Spadina (147 Spadina Avenue). No matter where you are in the city, Fresh is never far away. Stop by to peruse their full menu of fine vegan and vegetarian fare – from rice bowls and burgers, to kale and quinoa salads, and cold pressed juices that are made fresh daily. Take out is also available.
TABÜLÈ Midtown (2009 Yonge Street) is the original location that started it all. They specialize in fine Middle Eastern food, much of it vegetarian and vegan friendly. It’s a great place to sit and have a good meal, knowing there is something to suit everyone’s palate. Start with their signature TABÜLÈ Salad – with chopped parsley, whole wheat bulgur (or gluten-free quinoa), tomato, onion and mint, with a lemon and olive oil dressing. Their Homemade Lentil Soup is made without cream or butter. Their roasted Eggplant dish is drizzled with tahini on a bed of müjaddara with pomegranate seeds. It makes an excellent main course. When you are not so close to home, TABÜLÈ has locations all over town – each with their own unique feel and flavour. Their additional locations include TABULE RIVERSIDE (810 Queen Street East), TABULE BAYVIEW (2901 Bayview Avenue) and SOUK TABULE (494 Front Street East).
Planta and Planta Burger
Planta, at 1221 Bay Street in Yorkville, is an elegant, high-ceilinged eatery dedicated to serving exceptional food that happens to be plant-based and environmentally sustainable. It is upscale in every way, so it’s great for those special occasions when you want to splurge a little. For more laid back, everyday plant-based fare, head to Planta Burger, at 4 Temperance Street. Planta makes a great vegan burger. Try the Classic, with mushroom bacon, pickles, tomato and plant-based queso ($10.50). Wash it down with a coconut ice cream milkshake in chocolate or salted caramel vanilla ($7.50).
You can learn more about Planta in our post about the best healthy restaurants in Toronto.
Grasshopper Restaurant has two great locations – one at 310 College Street, and the other in the Junction, at 3080 Dundas St West. The food, as well as the decor at Grasshopper, feels fresh and crisp. There is lots of white exposed brick, and healthy green plants growing. Grasshopper specializes in Japanese-American fusion comfort food, with a plant-based twist. You can’t go wrong with their quinoa mac ‘n’ cheese, salads, burgers and substantial rice bowls. Start your meal with their Chick-Un Nuggets ($8), a delicious dish served with creamy BBQ or peanut sauce. Then go for The Mushroom Bowl ($13), loaded with sautéed cremini and portobello mushrooms, onions and bean sprouts, served over steamed brown rice, and topped with a spicy house tahini sauce. If you still have room for dessert, the Chocolate Fudge Brownie ($4.50), or the Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake $8, will put you over the top.
The Hogtown Vegan
The Hogtown Vegan (1056 Bloor Street West) is your source for Southern-style vegan comfort food, local beer on tap, and a great weekend brunch. If you’re new to plant-based eating, their meat-like tofu and seitan meals will make the transition a cinch. The friendly servers are always happy to suggest something you may like if you’re unsure of what to order. You really can’t go wrong. From crispy fried soy wings with buffalo or BBQ sauce, to Phish ‘n Chips with beer battered tempeh, to fried tofu scrambles for brunch. There’s always something good cooking at the Hogtown Vegan – but absolutely no hogs are harmed!
Are you ready to dig into some fine vegan fare in Toronto? Let us know if we missed your favourite restaurant on this list. With so many great options for plant-based cuisine in the city, there has never been a better, tastier or easier time to go meatless.
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