‘Great to see’: Victoria crowned Canada’s most vegan-friendly city

'Great to see': Victoria crowned Canada's most vegan-friendly city
MeeT on Blanshard is seen in this file photo.

Victoria is “a true vegan paradise,” according to a new report lauding B.C.’s capital as the best city in Canada for foodies who prefer a plant-based diet.

BonusFinder Canada released the findings last week after gathering data on the number of vegan restaurants, average meal prices and average ratings “to devise a point-based final score across each city,” it says in a news release.

It collected data from Trip Advisor, a website that posts users’ restaurant, accommodation and activity reviews, and ultimately gave Victoria the top spot with an 8/10 on the “vegan-friendly scale.”

A local vegan food aficionado is impressed.

“It’s great to see Victoria getting recognition for all the great vegan places we have. I think one of the things that makes Victoria a good city from a vegan perspective is that it’s easy to get around to all the places,” said Jordan Reichert with the Vancouver Island Vegan Association (VIVA).

BonusFinder says Victoria has 141 vegan restaurants, or 49 restaurants per 100,000 people, with an average meal price of $22.79 and rating of 4.31/5 on Trip Advisor. It is important to note that of those 141 restaurants, only a handful are exclusively vegan, while most have some vegan offerings on their menus. 

“For the size of our population, it’s pretty good,” said Reichert. “We could always use more (restaurants), but it’s getting better all the time.”

Hamilton, Ont., scored second place with 7.62/10 on the scale, while London, Ont., got third with 7.53/10 and Vancouver and Winnipeg tied for seventh with 6/10.

“I’d say Toronto and Vancouver, places like that, they have so much more diversity and so many more options for vegan and vegan-friendly places, but you really have to travel around to them to get to them,” said Reichert.

Here’s the full list:

While Reichert finds that more vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are opening in Victoria, he’s remembering those that have closed in recent years.

“Over the pandemic, unfortunately, we lost some main-stays in the community. The Very Good Butchers and Lotus Pond, which had been around for about 30 years. And we lost Bliss Cafe as well,” he said in an interview Sunday.

On Feb. 27, 2023, staff at Very Good Butchers took to social media saying they were closing their doors for good, while Lotus Pond saw its last day of service on April 30, 2023. Cafe Bliss closed back in March of 2020.

“But there have been new places opening up, like Softys Ice Cream and MeeT on Blanshard and Frickin’ Delight Donuts,” said Reichert.

The owners of MeeT on Blanshard, the first MeeT Restaurant on Vancouver Island, opened in late 2022 after operating several restaurants on B.C.’s mainland.

2022 STORY: ‘Excited to be here’: Vegan restaurant chain MeeT puts finishing touches on Victoria location

Along with “a large, eclectic menu” featuring about 70 per cent comfort food and 30 per cent healthier choices, the restaurant on Hillside Avenue offers some nostalgia, co-owner Jason Antony told CHEK News in November 2022.

“Our philosophy, in general, is we try to reuse what we can, just from an environmental perspective,” he said at the time. “There is a lot of new and a lot of used pieces and a lot of elements that we’ve had from other spaces.”

Reichert is also recognizing Green Cuisine on Johnson Street, which “has been here for over 30 years, so it’s really an institution down in Market Square there.”

Green Cuisine has been “committed to sustainability” since it opened in 1990 and is a regular contributor “to environmental and vegan organizations,” it says on its website, adding that it “serves only sustainable plant foods.”

Reichert recalls a 2019 study that found more than 40 per cent of people in B.C. under the age of 35 had transitioned to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

VIVA “is all about ending the suffering and exploitation of animals, appreciating the environment, and living healthy, happy lives,” reads a post on its website.

According to HealthLinkBC, a vegetarian diet doesn’t include meat, while someone who is vegan only eats plant foods. “This means no milk products, eggs, honey, or gelatin,” which comes from bones and other animal tissue.

Today, Reichert says more businesses in Victoria are catering to this demographic, even if they don’t exclusively serve vegetarian or vegan food.

“In the last five years or so, I’ve seen a lot more vegan-friendly places. They’re experimenting more and offering more vegan options. If you’re out with your friends and all you can eat is fries and salad, well, that’s not very enticing to everyone else,” he added. “So it becomes a viable option for people.”

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