This vegan family LOVES Vancouver in beautiful ‘Super-Natural British Columbia’!
There is just so much to do for families… and it seems to have it all: Mountains, sun, sea, sand, restaurants, museums, theatre… To sit on Kitsilano Beach in the hot sun, with a sparkling, twinkling ocean looking out at the snow capped mountains is really something else.
Accommodation: We have stayed in Vancouver a few times:
Sometimes we have stayed over near Stanley Park – our favourite hotel is a designated heritage building on English Bay: The Sylvia Hotel. This place is much more individual than your usual chains. The price was reasonable and we booked a family room (daughter had her own room – which was a winner!). We even had breakfast in the Dining Room:- toast and fruit jam (vegan) with potatoes and a shared fruit bowl and OJ for yours truly, ditto for daughter, eggs and toast and potatoes, with coffee for other half (he still eats eggs at mo).
When on vacation/holiday, we find that every now and then, it is nice to be able to pop down bleary eyed into a hotel’s own dining room sometimes, rather than drive off to find somewhere vegan-specific. Sure, the choices are usually a little limited, but we can handle that for a one-off lazy morning… I usually peruse the ‘sides’ section of the menu and make our own meal!
We have also stayed more centrally in Downtown – in some of the larger chains, and privately in AirBnBs in the Kitsilano area (one of our favourite areas in Vancouver: Kits is a wonderful place – by a great beach, full of bookshops, restaurants, beach, park, outdoor swimming pool, etc.).
The Kitsilano Outdoor Pool experience is amazing and pretty reasonable rate for families. There is also a similar pool over in the edge of Stanley Park (nr English Bay). I believe they are open from May to September (though might be weather-dependent).
Kitchens save vacations!
We have realized that, wherever we stay, we find that booking self-catering/room with a kitchen makes life so very much easier! Having the option to make your own breakfast or bring home takeout, or rustle up a quick healthy meal is not only kind on your budget, but can save you from the “where shall we go for dinner” blues! Now, Vancouver has so much choice, it is true… but on a family vacation, coming to an agreement on ‘what food and where’ three plus times a day can sometimes take its toll, and having the option to just bring some groceries back and make something yourself can be a life-saver.
However, that being said; there are some amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver – you really are very much spoilt for choice!
Here are some vegan restaurants we have tried so far, during our trips out there:
- The Naam (West 4th, Kitsilano)
This place is awesome! It is open 24/7 and has been a staple restaurant in Vancouver for decades now. We have been for breakfast (mountains of food!), lunch and dinner (evening gets pretty busy – so expect lines)… and enjoyed it immensely each time. Small but relaxed environment makes it easy to eat at any time. Fussy tween vegan daughter also found plenty of choices she liked – it is one of her preferred breakfast venues. (Do not underestimate the power of the fussy child eater!) 😀
- Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant (W12th, Van)
This is Other Half’s favourite restaurant in Vancouver hands down! Just on the corner of Granville, and not too far from Kits or Downtown. This is an award-winning restaurant. We have been 4 times so far. The first time, the menu was two sided: one side vegan, the other veggie. As of 2017, the Chef has changed (I believe) and the menu is mainly vegan, with vegetarian options (i.e. cheese instead of vegan cheese if preferred). The food is superb. Daughter had a few ‘easy kid-friendly’ options to choose from too. if you’re bringing non-vegans who don’t like vegan cheese alternatives, then they offer a vegetarian cheese instead. Nice decor, gets very busy in evening – which can be a little noisy for children (the usual high ceiling culprit). Highly recommend.
- MeeT on Main (Main St, between 27th/28th, and also in Gastown)
Although not keen on the name (slightly bothers me)… It is a good option for home-style comfort type of food… So you feel like you are being naughty, but in actuality, on the main: it is good tasty and VERY filling! 😀 Daughter had a HUGE bowl of mac cheese, Other Half had a burger and I had a kale and tofu salad bowl with rice. Daughter wanted fries (as always: her plan B in case the food is not up to her fussy standards!)… But the ‘Little mountain of fries’ was more like Kilimanjaro! All good though. We went for lunch, and it was super-busy… no waiting though. High ceilings made for a noisy environment again (seems to be a thing in Van). Worth a visit though. Menu states: “All menu items are vegan AND gluten free unless otherwise noted with substitutions suggested”.
- Sejuiced (4th St, Kitsilano)
We first visited this place in 2005, when I was pregnant with our daughter… and we still like to pop in for at least one visit when we are in town. This is a small place that offers both vegetarian and vegan. They sell Soups, Yogi Bowls, wraps, salads, quesadillas, burgers and breakfasts, as well as a huge menu of drinks/smoothies. Last time we ate there, I had a flavourful scrambled tofu with spinach. Other half had a wrap, and daughter had a small salad, with rice and steamed veggies with daiya cheese (from the ‘Add’ section of the salads). Tip: If stuck finding things for fussy eating children: always check out the ‘sides’ or ‘extras’ on a menu to see if you can cobble something together they will be happy with! I find most places are accommodating.
- Dharma Kitchen (W. Broadway at Alma, Kitsilano)
We ate here for dinner – it’s a small cosy, purely vegan place down at the edge of Kits. The host/server was very friendly. We had the roasted potato starters (for daughter mainly) which came with yummy miso dressing. I have just checked out their menu, and it looks like it offers more choices now… Back over a year ago, daughter had a rice bowl, but looking now, we would probably have suggested a tofu dish or salad to go with her potatoes… The rice bowls we had were amazing, but daughter does not/did not (never say never) like sauce on her rice at that time (which is how it was presented). Will definitely re-visit this place again now that the menu has been extended.
- Edible Flowers (West Broadway, Vancouver – between Yew and Vine Street)
Not a restaurant, but a bakery – of wholly vegan and some gluten-free baked goods… And wow – they are delicious! We bought some croissants (choc, plain and vegan cheese), brownies, cookies – all truly scrumptious! They also do bread – which are also gluten-free, but I think we went quite late in the day and missed out on those.
And here are some we have yet to try (great excuse to go back!):
- Vegan Pizza House (Kingsway, East Side)
This place sounds wonderful – and ideal for a family with kids… pizza almost always goes down well with the little ones. Lots of options too…
- 3G Vegetarian Restaurant (Cambie St, Cambie Village)
This place says it won award for best vegetarian restaurant back in 2013. Looks like they do many of the usual Asian staples, such as spring rolls, tofu, tempura, lots of soups, with many veggie meat substitutes also. I cannot tell off the online menu as to what is vegetarian and what is vegan – would be good to see that to make ordering easier. I would hope their in-house menu could help with that. I do see that they do a vegan cheese with rice and meat alt meal also… Oh…. just noticed an item called ‘Crispy Soy Baby Pig’. I would guess they are being true in name to original meat dishes. But for me, this is a little off-putting. I would imagine this might be a plus for new vegans who are missing meat, I suppose. But it has made me think twice. I guess there are those that lean towards more plant-based foods, and those that enjoy meat substitutes. I think my family lie somewhere in between – we do have ‘some’ substitutes, but we do not think of them in that way, and personally, I prefer when restaurants avoid the meat comparisons. My personal feelings though, and wouldn’t want to put anyone off going… the menu is extensive and great to see another vegetarian place thriving.
- Tao Organics (Esplanade W., North Vancouver)
Menu looks fantastic… though was having a tough time figuring out what fussy tween might choose. would have to think a bit more on that one. Worth a visit for sure, if your small person is not quite so fussy… She ‘might’ go for the nori rolls, as close to veggie sushi, though I would expect she would wish they had rice in them… ah well… 🙂
- Eternal Abundance (Commercial Dr.)
Similar issues to above… not sure about tween, but other half and myself would love to visit this one! 🙂
More to be added shortly (there are just so many!) ….
Places to go with children:
We have been to different venues depending on daughter’s age really. The beaches at Kits, and at Spanish Banks are wonderful… The outdoor pools are always a winner (Kits and Stanley Park as mentioned). In the Summer, Stanley Park has outdoor movies on.
Other places we have visited include:
- MacMillan Space Centre (Vanier Park, off Kits Point)
We got in a little late for this one – they have two ‘sittings’ – and I would recommend either coming in early for the first sitting or showing, or later in the evening for the second one. First part of the experience was a kind of science lesson… where we sat in a lecture theatre type room, and an experienced educator took us through a topic (ours was about light) – with firey demos, and a good measure of humour and witty jokes. Second half was to go upstairs via elevator to the observatory room, where you sit in a circular room, staring up at the dome shaped ceiling, whilst a knowledgeable speaker guides you through the universe, galaxies and stars. Topped off with the obligatory peruse through the gift shop at the end, I think daughter enjoyed herself (I did!).
- Flyover Canada (Canada Place, Downtown Vancouver)
This was a wonderful experience for all of us. We went in Summertime, and although a longish line, we got through quite quickly. The initial talk as they huddle you into the waiting room might make you wonder how good it is going to be, but then you get into your seats (with belts) facing the huge screen, the lights go off and you are away: flying through the clouds, over fields, through the stars, etc… seeing much of the amazing diverse lands of Canada. Extra interactive elements (won’t spoil that for you!) add to the experience. Daughter of 9 loved it. Would do it again. They have a Christmas version in Wintertime too.
- Science World @ TELUS World of Science (Quebec St, Downtown – via Sky Train)
As we haven’t technically been here with a child …. well, we kind-of, sort-of did… I was about 5 months pregnant with our daughter at the time. We went in, realized it was really for children… and I made use of the washrooms (you know how it is for pregnant ladies!). I had a look at the website and I really think our daughter would get a lot out of it… especially now that she is into coding and robots, Star Wars and all that good stuff! So will add a reminder for us to go there next Summer (or Spring) – whenever we get time to visit. Convenient location (get there via Sky Train, but paid parking too).