Vegan New West – the New Kids on the Block

Whether vegan, veg-curious, taking part in veganuary, or just into good food, New West is becoming something of a vegan mecca. Delicious options are everywhere and more restaurants are offering veg menus or items that are specifically marked. It’s good to be vegan in New West!

V Cafe – 789 Carnarvon St

Warning – gushing ahead.

I love V Cafe. There, I said it. I could eat at V every single day, but usually try to keep it to a modest 2-3 times weekly. Look, I’m not the only one – whenever I go in, I usually recognize half the folks as regulars.

Nadine’s V Cafe How-To Guide


Everything looks delicious, but you can’t eat it all in one go.

Start with the lemongrass chicken salad roll. One order comes with two generous rolls.

Don’t be embarrassed that you’ve been back three days in a row. You are now ready to move on to the pho. They’ve also got a curry soup with noodles or bun that is a great cold weather meal.

Is the top of your mouth scalded from daily pho consumption? You may now want to progress to the banh mi. I’m partial to the lemongrass chicken but their entire fake meat selection is delicious (and I’m not even a fake meat person! I’ve brought in non-veg folks and they were overwhelmed by the yumminess too!). I like a banh mi with their small bowl of soup.

You are now ready. Order the vermicelli salad bowl. It’s everything in one big party – different types of fake meat including the lemongrass chicken, vermicelli noodles, thinly cut veggies, the sunshine salad dressing. I have more to say about it, but you’ll have to excuse me…I’ve got to head over to V Cafe to get my fix.

Insider tip – ask for their homemade hot sauce!

Wild Thyme– 705 12th St

If you haven’t yet tried Wild Thyme, I’m not sure I should even be telling you about it. New West’s worst kept secret, this little gem is located on 12th Street. They recently expanded from a teeny, tiny hole in the wall restaurant. Prepare yourself: it packs a garlic punch.

Step 1. Bring a friend. The portions are big enough to share.

Step 2. Let the owner know you’re vegan and order the cauliflower bowl.

Step 3. Dig into the warm pita fresh from the oven, fluffy and breathing off hot steam. Use your fingers.

Step 4. Salad.

Step 5. Loosen your pants and dig into the cauliflower bowl.

Step 6. Pack the leftovers in the Tupperware you wisely brought along.

At one time, Wild Thyme was ranked the second-best restaurant on Yelp. Second best in Canada. For their 2017 year in review of best places to eat in Canada, Yelp placed Wild Thyme at #3.

If you think I’m exaggerating then I know you haven’t tried them yet.

Banh Mi Bar – 722 Carnarvon St


The owners are charming. The location is handy. The prices are reasonable. And they have a vegan option with vegan mayo!

I find it hard to believe that not too long ago we were almost banh mi-less in New Westminster. Fortunately for us, there has been a proliferation of Vietnamese sandwich joints open up over the past couple of years.

If you like crusty bread, this is a great option. I like it with hot sauce and jalapeños — what’s your banh mi styling?

Pizzeria Ludica – 601 Carnarvon St

 Like vegan pizza? What about board games? Pizzeria Ludica just opened in New West and it seems to be a roaring success. Roll the dice and check out this new restaurant! Ludica substitutes daiya cheese at no extra cost and their crust is vegan. I recommend the cheesey spinach which has three types of cheese you can substitute out. Sub daiya, mushrooms, and ….? They have a pretty decent selection of board games and the staff will teach you how to play new games. I’m currently 2-0 at Battleship if anyone wants to challenge me!

Pho Pho You – 441 Columbia St

 Noodles? Hot soup? I’m in.

When this spot on Columbia Street first opened up, I popped my head inside and was disappointed to find out they didn’t have anything vegan. I was delighted to learn that not too long after this encounter they created an entirely veg menu!

They have a regular pho and a spicy pho that come with all the fixings – mint leaves, bean sprouts, lime.

I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences with their spring rolls – the great experience was good enough that I’ll definitely give them another go and I encourage you to try for yourself!

Warm up on the cold and mucky days ahead with some glorious soup!

Ramen Hachi -120-888 Carnarvon St

This newly opened spot in the New West skytrain station has only three soup options at the time of writing, one of which is vegan! The noodles are on the thin side, the broth flavourful with a healthy helping of sesame seeds. They also have a vegan gyoza option. I found the gyoza dry-ish, but also a refreshing change from overly oily dumplings. The service was an absolute A+.

If you’re a noodle aficionado like me, you’re sure to appreciate this place. The ramen drought in New West is over!

Piva – 787 Columbia St

If you can’t already tell from by my restaurant recommendations, I’m not the trendiest person in town. I did try Piva soon after they opened after hearing they have a separate vegetarian/vegan menu. They are located on the happening corner at 8th and Columbia Street, in the base of the Anvil Centre. The view from the windows is pure New West. The restaurant is beautiful and the service excellent. I’m infinitely grateful whenever restaurants identify vegan options or items that can be made vegan. It always saves the awkwardness of asking, the server having to go ask the chef, then returning to say that no, it has eggs or cheese, then having to look at the menu and ask about another item initiating a repeat of the process.

I digress. I tried the margarita pizza subbing some of the most delicious mushrooms I’ve eaten recently for cheese. My dining partner had the nono pasta. His pasta was good, but did I mention the mushrooms? Juicy and flavourful. Next time I might just have the mushrooms. And wine. Definitely worth a try if you’re going for a fancy night out.

 

Uptown New West Vegan Eats

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

šVirginia Woolf

I’ve heard Uptown New West referred to as something of a desert – a hostile land where no delicious food can be found. As a vegan who works in the uptown area, I decisively and adamantly disagree. Uptown New West is not a desolate area devoid of restaurants, but a wonderful bread basket of different types of cuisine, almost exclusively family-owned and run.

The difficulty is not finding something to titillate the taste buds, but in deciding which wonderful restaurant to sample on any given day. I’ve compiled a top 7 list of the best vegan food options in Uptown New Westminster. Continue reading “Uptown New West Vegan Eats”

Give Peas a Chance: Looking for Vegetarian Options in Downtown New West

I love downtown New West. I’ve been working and playing here for more than two years, and even in that short time I have seen it become an increasingly attractive, modern, and hip area that is luring droves of young people and families to its friendly streets. Yet even with the growing number of new shops, restaurants, and amenities popping up around downtown, I still face the daily struggle of finding a decent vegetarian meal when lunch or dinner time rolls around. Considering how well-stocked the area is with cafes, restaurants, markets, and food trucks, this is a surprising (and frustrating) problem.

I’ve been fully vegetarian for years, and these days it’s dead easy to shop and eat out in most places. Grocery stores are well-stocked with meat and dairy alternatives, and most restaurants worth their salt offer at least a few intentionally vegetarian items. What do I mean by “intentionally vegetarian”? This refers to options that were crafted to be vegetarian from conception, not a meat-based meal with the animal products removed upon request (which can often be of inferior quality). With vegetarianism, veganism, dairy-free, and other alternative diets at an all-time high, there is simply no excuse for a modern restaurant not to have a few solid veggie entrées.

That’s why I’m consistently surprised and disappointed by how few great vegetarian and vegan options there are in downtown New West. At the River Market on New West Quay, most of the restaurants have limited vegetarian entrées, and many have no vegan choices. Wally’s Burgers‘ only “meatless” option is a fried egg on a bun (off-limits to vegans and egg-free vegetarians), and some establishments are actually reducing their vegetarian options rather than beefing them up (pun intended). In fact, my initial inspiration for this post stemmed from a recent depressing lunch break in which I was informed by a staff member at Re-Up BBQ that their delicious vegetarian chilli is now made with bacon fat. Ignorance is bliss… (Editor’s note: Re-Up BBQ responded via Twitter after this was published to say that the veggie chilli with bacon fat was a test item on the menu, but the chilli now on the menu “and for the foreseeable future” is vegetarian – BT)

The Shops at New West have a somewhat better selection of vegetarian fare, mostly because the establishments tend to be larger regional or national chains. Yet even the gastropub Hub, where I enjoyed a relaxing patio dinner with my S/O recently, offers only 2 vegetarian options out of their 12 entrées, and 2 of their 5 salads have meat ( sorry vegans – all of them have cheese). For a large restaurant with a seemingly hip and modern vibe, I was once again disappointed.

So where can a hungry veggie get a tasty and reasonably-priced meal in downtown New West? In the River Market, Pamola has a delicious mushroom burrito (although with a generous helping of cheese it’s not vegan-friendly), and the spinach and feta quiche at Tre Galli is a lunchtime staple of mine. Downtown also has several Japanese restaurants with vegetarian options, but my personal standby is Togo Sushi with their tasty wakame salad and yam tempura rolls.

At this point you might be thinking that us vegetarians are too demanding – after all, nobody forced me to go meat-free. Why should everyone have to cater to my personal choice? Yet there are so many more reasons why restaurants ought to offer good vegetarian and vegan options. Firstly, not everyone is meat-free by choice; many people need to be for medical or religious reasons. Secondly, vegetarian and vegan entrées can be great healthy alternatives for those looking to watch their salt, fat, or calorie intake, or those simply looking to boost their daily servings of fruit and veg. Thirdly, intentionally veggie dishes are delicious and unique. Removing protein staples such as chicken, beef, or fish from the kitchen arsenal can inspire chefs and home cooks alike to think outside the box and create exciting new flavours. Finally, vegetarian and vegan dishes are inclusive; they are usually more affordable, and are suitable for most diets, from the most restrictive, to the diehard carnivore. As a vibrant, multicultural, and forward-thinking neighbourhood, I think downtown New West deserves more vegetarian options.

What are your favourite vegetarian/vegan spots in New West? We would love to hear your suggestions!

Metro Van’s only vegan store opens in New West

This is a guest post from Glenn Gaetz from Liberation B.C. , an animal rights group that advocates for a vegan lifestyle and an end to all exploitation of animals. You can find Glenn on Twitter @liberationbc.

A new business opened on Canada Day in New Westminster: Karmavore, an all-vegan store. This is the metro Vancouver area’s only vegan shop (short-lived Vegetate on Robson was the first).

Why a vegan shop? The owners wanted to run a business that was entirely in line with their values. A portion of profits are donated to animal-friendly charities, and the store has a policy of not supporting charities that support animal testing (which most of Canada’s health charities do). They are working to be as positive a business as possible, using only 100% recycled paper (when they must print) and only offering items for sale that are free of animal products, not tested on animals, environmentally friendly, and fair trade.

The shop itself is a cute little store on East Columbia. It’s a friendly and inviting space, with a beautiful dark floor and large front window.

Now that Karmavore is open, there is finally a store selling vegan shoes. No more hunting through regular shoe stores looking at labels and trying to figure out if that piece of shiny brown material is leather or not.

Although their selection is small (but will increase as time goes on) they’ve got some good, essential, basic shoes. For women, they have a range of shoes, from traditional dress shoes to high-heeled boots. For men, the selection is smaller, but includes dress shoes in black and brown, sandals, and some really cool sneakers from Vegetarian Shoes with recycled tire soles.

Currently, all of the t-shirts they’re selling come from Herbivore Clothing Company, a Portland vegan shirt maker, which means all of the t-shirts are cool and must-have additions to your closet. Herbivore is close to becoming the uniform for vegans. Their shirts feature clever and cool designs, and elicit praise from meat-eaters and vegans alike. The ‘I’m vegan and I ♥ You‘ shirt with the elephant is my current favorite. I can’t say it enough: Herbivore makes the best t-shirts ever. Plus, they’re all printed on American Apparel t-shirts, and they’ve been moving to printing on organic cotten as well. This means they’re more expensive than your normal t-shirt, but well worth the price in awesomeness.

They’ve also got some belts, wallets, and even gloves. To be honest, after looking at the shoes and shirts, I headed across the store to the food. One really smart move the owners made was to make sure there are plenty of lower-priced items so that no one ever needs to leave empty-handed. If none of the shoes or shirts strikes your fancy, you can grab a Sweet & Sara S’more and pop for the trip home.

The highlight of my trip out to the store was the marshmallows from the Chicago Soy Dairy. These are marshmallows like you had when you were a kid. Eating them is like eating bite-sized pillows made out of sugar. I have a theory that making them involves elves and magic, but the people from the Chicago Soy Dairy tell me this isn’t the case. I don’t actually believe them. They’re just too good.

They also sell some marshmallow mixes and other sweet things, vegan energy bars, makeup, vegan pet food, and books. The selection will hopefully grow as the store matures, so there will likely be new treasures to discover on the shelves.

If you can’t make it out to the store in person, or you just want to see what they have, visit their website (www.karmavore.ca). You can order online, read their blog, and find out more about them.

Being only a 30 minute skytrain ride from Downtown Vancouver makes the store really convenient. They’re about 6-8 blocks from the Sapperton skytrain station. It’s well worth a trip for anyone who wants to support a vegan business or check out some new alternatives. Plus, the people who work there are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the trip is worth it just to meet them.

Tell them I said hi!