Undeniable in its fulfillment of the West Coast archetype, Vancouver is a keen proponent of vegan fare. And while everyone loves a good juice bar or #avocadotoast photo op, the city’s crop of veggie-forward eateries goes beyond mere trend. Vancouver’s Gastown and Chinatown neighbourhoods offer many a spot for indulgence, serving up rich comfort dishes, decadent desserts, and, naturally, a hearty macro bowl or two. With so many options around town, locals and visiting vegans alike can sample highlights from hot spots on a four-course excursion with Vancouver Food Tour—and always return for second helpings.
Kokomo. What would a vegan dining scene be without nutritious bowls in picturesque arrangements? Amid dreamy tropical vibes of pastel walls and palm fronds, Kokomo’s café sets the scene for an elevated quick bite. The healthful bowls are as hearty as they are Instagrammable: açai bowls filled with granola and goji berries; turmeric, coconut milk, and lime leaf laksa noodles; lush macro bowls—the Coastal is layered with tempeh, squash, and crispy greens and ginger-pickled cabbage. Round out your meal with some healthful sips, including Vancouver’s Hoochy ‘Booch kombucha on tap, beetroot lattes, and daily tonics stocked with ginger, molasses, apple cider vinegar, and more.
Virtuous Pie. Opening last year to a great hoorah from Vancouver’s pizza-deprived vegan crowd, Virtuous Pie tops its three-day hand-stretched shells—crafted in-house, available gluten-free—with a plethora of plant-based ingredients, including house-made nut-based cheeses. The punny Stranger Wings offers a take on buffalo chicken (cauliflower) with blue cheese drizzle. Standouts are the Ultraviolet (with house-made walnut and arugula pesto piled with cashew mozzarella, flowering kale, oven-dried tomatoes, and caramelized onion) and Meatball + Chevre (subbing in soy-based balls battered in local favourite 33 Acres beer and lemon and herb chèvre). The popular pizzeria has since opened locations in UBC’s Wesbrook Village and Portland, while Torontonians can expect a Virtuous Pie outpost next year.
Umaluma. Vancouver certainly has its fair share of ice cream shops, and though many offer a few vegan variants, Umaluma takes the cake. The completely dairy-free gelato parlour scoops up a minimum of 16 flavours each day, growing up to 22 selections following its summer opening and swapping in seasonal tastes like autumn’s pumpkin pie. The product is smooth, creamy, and rich from the coconut milk base with homemade hemp seed milk and fattened with cashew nut butter. Following an organic ethos, Umaluma sweetens with wild honey or maple syrup, using nut butters for flavouring—though the Drunken Cherry highlights fruit stewed overnight in bourbon and the crunch of salted pecans, and Lavender Dream bursts with vivid floral notes.
Meet in Gastown. Following the success of its original Main Street location, Meet in Gastown opened its vegan comfort food haven last year, ironically backing onto the historic Blood Alley butcher district. Dig into an array of burgers (with a smoked grain-based patty or a house-made gluten-free option), brown rice or quinoa bowls, and poutine, all garnished with vegan delights like toasted coconut bacon, cashew gravy, and cheese alternatives. But first: whet your appetites with plump and saucy house beer–battered sweet chili cauliflower bites. Those looking to stock up on vegan cheeses, chocolate bars, and kimchi—not to mention lifestyle items like deodorant and shampoo—can browse Meet owner Jason Antony’s Vegan Supply shop in Chinatown. And good news for the Yaletown crowd: Meet now has a location on Mainland Street.
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