Taking Root: The New Wave of Canadian Vegan Restaurants

By Truc Nguyen

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Behold, the plant-based revolution is upon us. 

Nigiri sushi made with watermelon, mushroom, and eggplant. Jackfruit and taro tacos. 

Lasagna with cashew cream and tempeh bolognese. These are just a few of the delicious, inspired dishes offered by the new wave of modern vegan restaurants in Canada.

Across the country, culinary leaders are highlighting artisanal recipes with fresh, unexpected flavour combinations in a variety of cuisines. Vegan takes on popular dishes are offered, but there is also a focus on creating innovative menus that broaden the appeal of both common and less-expected vegetables, fruits and plant-based ingredients such as jackfruit and mushrooms. It’s plant-based dining, reinvented for a healthful new era.


Toronto, ON

Rosalinda offers authentic spice combinations and feel-good dishes made with fine ingredients. Opened in 2018, this restaurant by Grant van Gameren, Jamie Cook and Max Rimaldi has become known for its delicious, vegan Mexican fare featuring fresh and creative flavour combinations. In the bright, spacious 138-seat Financial District space filled with plants and modern-eclectic furnishings, you can enjoy potato and mushroom flautas made with cashew crema, and tacos featuring jackfruit and squash. 

Planta Queen

Toronto, ON

The latest location in the Planta family of restaurants features vegan Asian dishes in a polished, elegant setting designed by Nivek Ramas and featuring hand-painted murals by artist Candice Kaye. Helmed by chef David Lee, formerly of Nota Bene, the menu features everything from nigiri-style “sushi” made with watermelon, mushroom and eggplant to a Shanghai noodle salad featuring custom-made, vegan noodles from Famiglia Baldassarre.


Montreal, QB

LOV—an acronym for local, organic and vegan—features a plant-based menu at their three airy, beautiful Montreal-area restaurants for day and dinner (a few dishes with organic eggs and cheese are offered at brunch). There are flavourful, vegan-friendly takes on classic recipes such as mac and cheese and lasagna, and inventive delights such as kombucha-battered onion rings and miso-gravy poutine. Many of the recipes are made in-house from scratch, and there’s also an impressive list of natural and biodynamic wines. 

The Virtuous Pie

Vancouver, BC

The first Virtuous Pie location opened in Vancouver’s Chinatown opened in 2016, and there are now locations in Toronto, ON, Victoria, BC, and Portland, OR as well. An elevated fast-casual restaurant, Virtuous Pie’s 100% plant-based offerings feature pizzas and small plates made with high quality, house-made ingredients such as cashew mozzarella, truffle almond ricotta and vegan-friendly fresh parmesan. The small-batch ice-creams in gourmet flavours such as Bourbon Vanilla and Marionberry Cheesecake are a must-try.

Kanu Cafe

Edmonton, AB

Led by chef Matthew Kenney, this downtown Edmonton restaurant offers organic, raw and cooked plant-based dishes alongside craft beer, wine, and signature cocktails with ingredients such as Saskatoon berries and kombucha. The international menu offers innovative, flavourful vegetarian and vegan dishes such as Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe, Cashew Raclette and raw Kimchi Dumplings.

The Coup

Calgary, AB

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Much of the food served at this modern, ethical vegetarian restaurant is local, organic and made-from-scratch. Most dishes at The Coup can be made vegan upon request, and must-tries include the Vegan Charcoupterie board and the Upstream Burger made with roasted garlic, cashew, yam and seed. The restaurant also incredibly environmentally-friendly and community-focused, using compostable cups and potato straws for take-out orders and partnering with organizations such as Leftovers Calgary and Meal Share.

The Acorn 

Vancouver, BC

This stylish, vegetable-forward eatery offers an elevated dining experience focused on local and fresh ingredients such as wild mushrooms and heirloom vegetables. The vegetarian menu (many dishes can be made vegan) is ambitious, and designed to be a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. On chef Brian Luptak’s menu, flowers are used as garnishes, salads are anything but boring, and only the most seasonal finds are featured. 

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