First off, I have to say how excited I am to see how quickly the vegan movement is spreading. More and more individuals are hopping on the plant-based lifestyle – so much so that the Canadian government as well as private businesses are beginning to make promising commitments to cater to the growing demand of plant-based products. Despite veganism often being associated with affluence and financial wealth (more on the politics of it later), there is a vast camp of students and young adults who continue to be the primary drivers of the movement – relatively broke university students and young adults™ to be more precise. The University of Toronto Veg Club consists of almost 1000 members at the downtown St. George campus alone – and this number only represents people who have liked our page on Facebook.
Although the number of veg or veg-curious students continues to rise, our choices as to where to eat vegan on campus are still somewhat limited. What inspired me to write this post is my perpetual long-day-on-campus-didn’t-have-time-to-meal-prep dilemma. (You’d think I’d learn by now). Fortunately U of T is situated in a relatively vegan-centric location though if you don’t have the time in between class to indulge in an hour long lunch escapade, you’re bound to have to opt for campus finds. To help us out on our cheap vegan meal hunts, I’ve compiled a list of my go-to places on campus and surrounding areas.
FREE options (yes, free!)
- UTSU’s Free Vegan Breakfasts – University of Toronto’s Students Union in partnership with Veg Club host free vegan breakfasts usually once a month on a Friday from 9-10 AM at the Multi-Faith Centre near Spadina Ave. Boy are they creative with their breakfasts. Just this past year we’ve had breakfast bean and veggie burritos, tofu scramble, avocado toast, etc. The next one is happening March 23rd!
- Free #MeatlessMonday Lunches – U of T’s Veg Club frequently organizes Meatless Monday events where we give out free vegan lunches inspired by a meatless twist on Canada’s Food Guide food groups. Check out our page for event updates!
- The Green Beet Café – located in the downstairs cafeteria of Gerstein Information Science Centre, Green Beet is a newly-established fair-trade health-oriented café also carrying vegan options. My personal go-to is the falafel and hummus wrap or one of their salad combos from the daily menu. They also carry pre-packaged quinoa salads and pre-made tabbouleh and hummus trays.
- Caffiends – a student-run, volunteer-operated café at Victoria College located in the main VIC building. I absolutely love this place. Not only is everything on their menu fair-trade and vegan, they’re also thoroughly committed to sustainable practices by using donated re-usable mugs. You can even take your tea or coffee to class and bring it back when you’re done.
- Medical Sciences Cafeteria – located at King College Cr., Med Sci is home to a few vegan lunch spots. Not Just Greens is a purely health-based vendor that carries a great selection of greens, plant-based protein options and pita wraps. There is also a Shawarma place that sells falafel plates filled with seasoned potatoes, steamed veggies, salad, hummus and lentil rice. It’s so darn filling.
- Café Reznikoff – located on the main floor of Morrison Hall, this is the perfect spot for a quick on-the-go snack. Unfortunately none of their pastries are vegan but they do carry a variety of protein bars, pre-packaged veggie snacks and quinoa salads.
- Ned’s Café – located on the lower level of the Goldring Student Centre Building at Vic College, Ned’s carries a few vegan wraps (under $6) and on-the-go meals. They’ve also got cozy couches to lounge on. A lovely friend of mine, Madison, recommends the vegan “butter chicken” wrap!
- Fresh on Bloor St. – students receive a 15% discount with proper ID.
- Vegetarian Haven – located on Beverley and Baldwin St., 10 minute walk from the U of T Bookstore, this family-run restaurant offers delicious daily lunch menus, often meals you’d never even think of making. Highly recommend!
- The Hogtown Vegan – located on College St., just east of Bathurst St., this is the perfect spot for those comfort food cravings. I am not exaggerating when I say their vegan mac n cheese is to die for!
- Kensington Market – only my favourite place in all of Toronto. If you’ve got more than an hour to spare in between class, or are looking for sweet spots to take your friends to outside of class, I HIGHLY recommend going to Kensington Market aka vegan galore! Here are a few places to check out:
Positive energies always.