Best Vegan Dishes in Vancouver

Welcome to Vancouver. We are one of the best cities to live in and visit if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. In fact, nearly 40% of BC residents under the age of 35 say they eat no meat, and 6.4 Million Canadians say they limit they amount of meat they eat. That’s nearly 20% of our population! 

There’s been so much talk lately about climate change. It’s really been in the forefront these last few weeks more than ever. And, along with pushing our governments to make serious change, one of the suggestions being made is also that we eat less meat for environmental reasons. 

Truthfully, there’s never been a better time to cut back on the amount of meat you’re eating. Whether you’re flexitarian, vegetarian or fully vegan, Vancouver is a city that you will love. We have options! So many delicious options! 

So I wanted to put together a list of all my favourite vegan foods in the city. If you’re visiting, they are worth checking out. If you live here, please feel free to add your favourites (what I’ve missed) in the comments below. Please note that these foods are my favourite treats. You can get healthy bowls and salads everywhere, this post is about my favourite vegan indulgences, which is what I like to do when I visit a new city, or when I’m going out with my friends. 

Donuts. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me even slightly that Cartem’s Donuts has my heart. Ever since just before they opened their doors on the Pender street location, I have loved them. Sure, there are other places in the city to get a vegan donut. But none of them offer the convenience and creativity of Cartems. My recommendation: whatever their monthly special is. 

Pizza: many pizza places in the city (even the big chains like Panago and Dominos) are embracing the veg trend and offering dairy-free cheeses and meat-sub toppings. But there will never, as far as I’m concerned, be a pizza that quite satisfies my cravings like Virtuous Pie. Look, let’s be real here. The toppings are important, yes. But the basis of any really good pie is the crust, and Virtuous Pie does it right. My recommendation: Stranger Wings. Yes. You need this in your life. 

Ice cream: just around the corner from Virtuous Pie is Umaluma. We’ve had a few vegan ice cream places come and go here in Vancity, and there are certainly other places in the city that do it well, but for selection and interesting, creative flavours, Umaluma is the scoop. See what I did there? 

Poutine: There are lots of places in the city that surprisingly have vegan or at least vegetarian gravy. But my fave vegan poutine in the city has been for a very long time, SpudShack in the New Westminster skytrain station. It’s a big obscure, but trust me, it’s worth seeking out. The fries are perfection, the gravy is rich and the perfect level of saltiness. 

Burger: oh boy. Now for the controversy. Vegan burgers are basically available on every street corner in this city now, thanks to pretty much all the fast-food chains now carrying Beyond or Lightlife. A&W serves them. Timmies serves them. Harveys serves them. But I’m not really interested in promoting a huge chain, I want to shout out a local business with a house-made patty. So, my controversial choice for best veggie burger in the city is… St Augustines. Yeah. This great little pub/brewhouse just beside the Commercial Drive Skytrain is actually pretty vegan friendly. This is a hearty house-made vegan burger patty with quinoa, yams and chickpeas. To make it vegan, ask for it without cheese and aioli. 

Ramen:  I love that we live in a city with so many different types of food and cultures to explore. Ramen has exploded in this city over the last few years, and I live in the heart of the so-called Ramen District. In my neighbourhood, there are at least half-a-dozen ramen joints in just a few blocks, and they are all pretty great. Ramen Danbo has the longest lines, Jinya is pretty great, but I love the cozy shop beside the London Drugs on Broadway and Cambie called Benkei.

Cauliflower: once thought of as the world’s most boring vegetable, Cauliflower is having the hottest of moments thanks to the paleo/keto movement. But it’s also having a hot moment due to its shape and size, and therefore its ability to pass for a chicken wing. “Vegan wings” are super popular in this city. What’s Up Hot Dog has Vegan Wing Night on Mondays (go early, there’s a line), and even the big chain restaurants like Earls are adding them to their menus (click here for a comprehensive list). For me, there are two real stand-out cauliflower dishes in the city; one more traditional, and one which is my favourite of the vegan wings. The classic cauliflower dish is Nuba’s Najib’s Special. This was the first time I’d ever tried deep-fried cauliflower (years ago, before the trend started), and I was immediately hooked. I don’t know what magical fairy dust they sprinkle on the cauliflower at Nuba, but it is the most delicious thing you will ever put in your mouth that is a vegetable. If you’re planning a trip to our fair city, I must insist you try it.

My fave of the vegan wings in the city belongs to Meet. They are beer-battered, deep fried, and then served with a sweet-spicy Thai sauce that simply cannot be beat.

 Honourable mention: the chickpea fries from Chickpea. I don’t have a category for this, because honestly, this dish is a category in and unto itself. Chickpea fries are made in a very similar way to polenta fries; you whisk the chickpea flour into boiling water until it gets thick, then let it set up in the fridge. Then you slice into “fries” and deep fry them. The Chickpea version is served with two drizzles; one creamy and one spicy. I could eat these all day every day; be sure to seek them out. 

Over to you, friends. What have I missed? Comment below! 

Beetza (Beet Pizza)

You maybe hate beets. That’s okay. Beets are a pretty polarizing vegetable. Many people think they taste like dirt. 

But like many other vegetables (oh hi brussels sprouts), a lot of the way they taste is in how you treat them. 

Brussels sprouts caramelized at high heat in hot oil are delicious. Boil them for 40 minutes until they are a sickly greenish-grey? Yeah, they’re terrible. 

a pizza topped with beet slices, blue cheese and greens

Same with beets. They’re not great boiled, but roasted, they come alive and the natural sugars actually make them quite tasty and sweet. 

So beets on a pizza. Weird? Perhaps. But don’t knock it till you try it. 

I’ve been using my new Breville Smart Oven Air almost constantly these last few months since I got it around my birthday. It’s been great. There are just two of us, so it’s been really useful to not have to turn on the big oven for most things. I think I’ve only used my oven a few times since I got it. 

One of the settings on the Breville Smart Oven Air is pizza. We are very seldom without frozen pizza in our freezer. It’s just an easy option for nights when we are super busy, or if it’s the weekend and I don’t feel much like cooking. Sometimes I buy the plain cheese ones from Costco, and sometimes I make my own

This particular combo is brought to you by the letter “B.” When I first started thinking about putting beets on pizza, I thought, what kind of cheese would go well with that? And the answer, of course, was blue. Beets, blue cheese… finished with the beet greens… what could be a more fall pizza than that? 

I realize this won’t appeal to everyone. And that’s okay. But also, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It’s actually really, really good. 

via GIPHY

Beetza (Beet Pizza)

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe your favourite pizza dough (I’m currently using the @foodgays from their cookbook, Cooking in Color) or your favourite store-bought pizza crust
  • 1 medium-large beet
  • tomato sauce or pizza sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese 
  • beet greens or arugula
  • olive oil
  • balsamic reduction

Method

  1. Wash the beet well and cut into really thin slices using a knife or a mandolin. Brush the slices with oil on both sides and sprinkle with pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and roast in a hot oven (400-425) until crispy on the edges (I did this step on the airfryer mode of my Breville Smart Oven Air). Remove and place to the side. 
  2. Roll out or stretch your pizza dough to the right size to fit your pan. Before placing the dough on the pan, brush the pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle some cornmeal down to keep it from sticking and to help give a crispier crust. 
  3. Place the dough on the pan and stretch it to fit. 
  4. Place a few tablespoons (up to 1/4 cup) of tomato sauce on the dough and spread it evenly. 
  5. Sprinkle the dough with a fine layer of parmesan cheese. 
  6. Place the roasted beet chips on the pizza, then crumble and scatter about the blue cheese. 
  7. Bake pizza in a pre-heated hot oven (425) for about 9-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. 
  8. Remove from oven and garnish with clean, chopped beet greens or arugula, a drizzle of fresh olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction (if you wish). 
  9. Serve immediately. 
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