The real GTA: Toronto’s vegan food hubs

Canadians might be nearly a third of the way through the Halloween season, but that doesn’t mean they’re not vegan. GTA prides itself on its slogan of “No Meat, No Munchies” – a truly encouraging stance on veganism when so many places in Canada still serve Meat Loaf and turkeys during Thanksgiving. As a non-meat eater, my old friend, kale, is of particular interest in the GTA, with both Champlain bridge and Pan Am train stations being strict about its availability. In meat-filled GTA, the best areas for vegan is Logan Square, the west side of Mississauga, east of Scarborough, Toronto’s alternative food haven. Although Ontario is Canada’s largest province, smaller locales, like Markham, Don Mills, and Thornhill, still use to be hosts of the most vegan food joints. Not to be outdone, Mississauga is now recognized for it’s many kimchee restaurants, which may not be as plentiful, but it’s definitely very good.

Grand Theft Auto

The GTA must have the most realistic, gluttonous spread of meat in the city. The GTA is known for its Mexican food, but forget after all it’s been through over the years. The GTA is the birthplace of numerous hip-hop stars such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne, although we’ll save them for another time. The GTA is renowned for its “Meddi Chicken” (kali gulp!) menu item of mandarin chicken, which can be found all over Toronto. The GTA has had amazing vegan cuisine before GTA at Greenlight, Union Food Truck, and Temple Street Sandwiches. The GTA is now closed.

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Takeout and lunch

Although the GTA hosts some ridiculously good vegan restaurants, Canadian food franchises have a way of gorging even the most conscientious of vegans. However, the GTA is host to such names as Burger Girl, Cheese Girl, Shake Shack, Melt Daddy’s, and Meijer, all of which help boost the GTA’s big foodie kudos. Meijer is known as Toronto’s greasy spoon and serves other delicious (and meat-free) takes on Canadian cuisine. The GTA’s three best meat-free lunch joints are:

The Idlebore Ramshackle Cafe

The Idlebore is a retroy authentic food cart and counter that specializes in vegan Indian cuisine. It’s located near Yonge and St Clair and when the gas station across the street finally gave in and dropped their “biker girl” humour, the Idlebore nabbed the regular parking spot. The Idlebore is as popular as it is ironic, providing a daily variety of vegetarians, vegans, and everything in between in a casual environment.

The Franklin Center Vegan Eatery

Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood is another area where veganism has become normalized, with several vegetarian and vegan options at transit hubs, supermarkets, and even churches. The Franklin Center Vegan Eatery is one of my favourite spots that definitely isn’t your average vegan and artisanal food cart. This place serves up cool vegan vittles like zucchini fries with beurre blanc, vegan sushi, Korean super salads, and plenty of non-vegan dishes too. And even while taking a smoke break on the bench outside the Franklin Center Vegan Eatery, we often stop to share a delicious vegan cheeseburger, a cranberry and apple dip, or take some pictures on the tasteful plant-inspired mural.

Halal Centre

The Halal Centre in Mississauga serves up traditional halal cuisine at a surprisingly affordable price and is a popular option for customers looking for a quick stop. The Halal Centre is located near Yonge and Milton and when the Halal market got noisy (white bread, Turkish spicy bell peppers, and deep-fried pita are the main draws), we moved to Mapledale to try out more vegan Pakistani dishes.

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