Herbivore haunts: downtown edition

By Meaghan Archer
Photo by Jenny Waters (The Peak)

Campus rats at Harbour Centre and Woodward’s: The Peak presents you a walkable selection of veg- and wallet-friendly lunch locales

Being a veg head or even just having the occasional Meatless Monday isn’t as awful as some carnivores make it out to be. It is a common misconception that vegetarians and vegans survive on kale chips and tofu, because if you don’t eat meat, then there’s nothing left but broccoli and rice, right? Negatory.

Scrumptious options are abound. If you are already a veg head or just want to try something new, healthy, and fabulous, seat yourself down and start munching!

Seriously, it won’t kill you. Vegetarian cuisine is popping up in more restaurants and I couldn’t be happier. Here are a few picks of some veg-friendly dining spots in downtown.

The Templeton
1087 Granville St.

If you’re into ‘50s style diners, this is the place to go. The authentic décor and working jukeboxes add an old school twist to your dining experience. Everything on the menu is fairly priced and made from organic ingredients, so you don’t feel as guilty.

There are options for everyone, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a total carnivore. I tried the vegan lentil loaf, which was flavoured with Moroccan spices and came with some sweet mango chutney. The best thing was that it was obviously baked, not fried, and so tasted a little more homemade.

The side dish, fries, were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside — perfect. The Templeton is known for snappy service, but it wasn’t among the worst.

There are lots of classic diner-style dishes on the menu, like burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, grilled cheese sandwiches, poutine, and milkshakes. The breakfast menu also looks worth checking out.

Rating: 7.5/10

870 West Cordova St.

If you’re looking for something quick and fresh, Freshii is just a five-minute walk away. With customizable salads, wraps, soups, and bowls, you would have to be an idiot to make your meal terrible.

This little spot is great whether you’re looking to take away or sit down for a bite and relax. There is a prepared menu to order from that is friendly to all kinds of eaters, but if you’re picky or want something different, there are combos and a variety of toppings, including all sorts of nuts and fruits, including blueberries and mango.

I was particularly impressed with their salad dressing graph, which points out which ones are vegan-friendly. It also doubles as an ingredients list, helpful for those with allergies or other limitations.

Freshii also provides a chart with the nutritional information of everything on the menu, and which foods are free of certain ingredients. Clearly, Freshii is dedicated to serving their customers as best they can, and the staff also reflects this — everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful with questions.

Rating: 8.5/10

Panz Veggie
1355 Hornby St. 

If you are looking for a stress-free decision in a calming environment, I suggest you hit up Panz Veggie, which serves 100 per cent vegan Chinese cuisine. Don’t let the sweet and sour “steak” and “ribs” fool you — they are meat-free too.

Knowing that everything on the menu is vegan and made from local ingredients makes meal decision time less stressful — well, sort of. The tons of delicious items to choose from tends to negate the ease of the decision process.

The deep-fried spring rolls and wontons are recommended — both come with a tangy plum sauce, and any dishes with the above-mentioned faux meat is also worth a try.

And don’t be scared about trying something new — that’s half the fun! If you have any questions, the staff are extremely friendly and willing to answer any questions you might have and also give their glowing recommendations. I know I’ll definitely be back for more.

Rating: 10/10

Bite-sized mentions:

La Taqueria
322 West Hastings St.
Twelve different tacos to choose from, four of which are vegetarian, while meats are locally and ethically sourced as much as possible.

Bon Chaz
426 West Hastings St.
Comes from the name of a Mexican pastry, baked daily, with sweet a filling, in flavours from chocolate to green tea.

W2 Media Cafe
111 West Hastings St.
Attached to the Woodward’s campus, W2 is the kind of place that offers quinoa salad and puts their sandwiches on baguettes.

Gorilla Food
436 Richards St.
For the adventurous eater, head underground to Gorilla, which offers all things organic, vegan, and raw at great prices.