If you’re eating plant-based or are a full-blown vegan, traveling can be quite challenging. Thank god for cities like Toronto though! The choices are almost endless, not just for food but also for shopping, entertainment and sleeping with a conscience. We have put together the ultimate green and vegan travel guide to Toronto to get you started. But with things changing at a rapid pace in Toronto, we wouldn’t be surprised if you found a whole bunch of new places while you’re exploring the city!
Where to sleep
If you think about the average Canadian hotel, eco-friendliness probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. The Gladstone Hotel on Queen St W, is leading by example. More known for their amazing artist-designed rooms, the Gladstone packs a real punch when it comes to green features. They’re not only using sustainable and local products in their rooms and in the kitchen, they have also dramatically reduced their waste by banning plastic bottles and recycling and composting. Moreover, they have also installed two green roofs, a green wall and support green organizations in Toronto.
It’s location on West Queen West also means there are tons of cool stores and restaurants to discover!
Where to eat
No vegan travel guide would be complete without a great list of places to eat. But this is a tough one in Toronto…There’s simply too much to choose from if you’re only here for a few days! Here’s our shortlist of restaurants and cafe’s that you shouldn’t miss!
Ever had a vegan eggs benedict? We didn’t think so. Toronto-based chef and cookbook writer Doug McNish takes healthy, organic, plant-based cuisine to a whole new level. Have a peek at the menu of Doug’s Public Kitchen or simply follow him on Instagram and drool over his pictures!
Kupfert & Kim is both meatless and wheatless! They have several locations throughout the city and all of them offer a fresh menu consisting of all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner options. They’re well known for their breakfast and salad bowls and make some amazing smoothies, too.
Come hungry, because the Hogtown Vegan is vegan comfort food at it’s best. You can find all your favorite pub foods such as wings, poutine, and cheeseburgers all made from plant-based alternatives. They don’t take reservations and offer a mean brunch on the weekends, too!
Sorelle & Co is a boutique bakery with two locations. They’re not only vegan but also gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free. They’re cupcakes and tarts are to die for! Their most accessible location is at Saks 5th Avenue right across from the Eaton Center. Look for them down at Putaserie’s Fine Food.
Bunners Bakeshop is another great gluten-free and vegan bakery with two locations in Toronto. Aside from delicious bread, they make cupcakes, brownies, donuts, tarts and cookies. There’s even vegan cheesecake, how cool is that?
If junk food is your thing, Doomie’s is a must hit. The first vegan restaurant exclusively serving junk food – no salads allowed. Everything we have tasted there has been so so tasty! Bring your appetite, the portions are huge and you will order too much!
Feeling like something a bit healthier? Try one of the many Fresh restaurants around the city. Fresh has been around since 1999 and is still serving up some of the best vegan food in Toronto. On top of being vegan, they also have a gluten allergy friendly menu with some great choices.
Do you have something to celebrate? Or do you simply want to spoil yourself? Check out Planta, an upscale vegan restaurant in Yorkville. Relatively new to the city, Planta offers an internationally inspired menu in an extremely stylish setting.
Where to shop
Head to Evergreen Brickworks on the weekend to find a beautiful farmer’s market full of fresh produce. Happening on both Saturdays and Sundays in the summer, the Evergreen Brickworks market makes for a nice break from the city. It’s a former quarry and industrial site that has been turned into a sustainable green venue with lots of cool areas to explore. Rent some bikes here as well and go discover the site!
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis / Flickr
St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto is an oldie but goodie. The South Market with more than 100 vendors is open every day except Sundays and Mondays and the Farmer’s Market happens on Saturdays.
Attribution: Taxiarchos228 at the German language Wikipedia
Another great way to shop more responsibly is to buy second-hand clothes. Toronto has an almost endless selection of second-hand stores. If you’re looking for used designer clothing, check out this article from BlogTO. Looking for something more quirky? Head over to the many stores at Kensington Market and get lost in the streets!
Many of the brands we sell at FAIR/SQUARE are locally made in Toronto and you can visit their stores and sample some of their amazing products. Head down to ChocoSol Traders to get some fair trade chocolate and learn how their stone-ground chocolate is made. You won’t regret it!
What to do
If you still have some time left and feel like something eco-educational, we can recommend two current exhibitions.
In the Design Exchange’s current exhibition “Evolution”, visitors can explore how Canadian designers take a closer look at naturally inspired paradigms, such as biomimicry. Attendees can also examine their role and influence in the evolution of design and how they are creatively solving man-made issues and conflicts through design informed by nature. Sounds complicated but is actually really interesting!
Alternatively, get up close and personal with the world’s most mysterious and largest animals ever in the current ROM exhibition titled “Blue Whale”. Follow the 2014 story of the blue whales that stranded on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador and captured the hearts of a nation.
Do you have any other tips for us? What are your favorite green and vegan places in Toronto? Let us know in the comments!