By Monica Heisey
Photo: Waffles with Mixed Berries from Karine’s
The most ubiquitous vegetarian watering hole in Toronto, Fresh has three downtown locations, a reliably delicious menu, and speedy service. Sweet potato fries and aoili dip made in-house are a popular item, but their heaping bowls with your choice of noodle or rice are the best value. Delicious and nutritious shakes and smoothies complement their extensive list of vegan and vegetarian cuisine. (326 Bloor Street West, 894 Queen Street West, and 147 Spadina Avenue)
Urban Herbivore
For the vegan (or veggie-lover) on the go, this Kensington joint features counter service for take-away or eating in at stools along the windows or outside on their small-but-shady patio. $12 gets you a big-enough-to-share barbecue tofu sandwich and a big glass of homemade mint and pineapple lemonade. Urban Herbivore doesn’t serve crazy, out there dishes with specialized ingredients you’ve never heard of—it takes delicious veggies, grains and tofu products and turns them into curry bowls, salads and sandwiches right in front of you. (64 Oxford St.)
White Lotus
With over 50 vegan options, this Parkdale Vietnamese restaurant makes a mean soy smoothie with daily fresh fruit. Mock meat adds flavour and protein to stir frys, rice dishes, spring rolls and hearty noodle soups. (303 Lansdowne Ave)
Vegan breakfast options can be tricky, but Karine’s in the Village by the Grange food court offers a brunch menu all day that has many gluten and animal-product-free items, including their specialty: vegan French toast. Heaping home-cooked platters for 8.99 and an entire menu under $10 makes Karine’s offerings delectable and affordable, and for stubborn meat-eaters there are some breakfast dishes with classic bacon and sausage on the side. The ladies behind Karine’s also place a heavy emphasis on running a green kitchen, so you can feel good about the minimal environmental footprint of your eats. (113/109 McCaul St.)
Specializing in organic, raw, vegan cuisine, Live was Toronto’s first exclusively raw restaurant. The menu offers a variety of burgers, wraps, pastas, bowls with some surprises like pierogies, pizza and a modified ‘TV dinner’, with prices ranging from $7 (Hemp Bruschetta) to $20 (Live Raw Combo—a bit of each of the mains). Most dishes are also gluten- and sugar-free, including the popular ‘Sinless Desserts’… do not skip out on the Chocolate Mint Avocado Cake. (264 Dupont st)