Care of Barbi Lazarus, Donor and Volunteer Resources Coordinator

A couple years back, we gave you some tips on vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants you could find in small towns around the GTA.

We all know that plant-based dining options have been exploding since then, and it’s definitely time for an update. Some of the GTA’s best, most delicious vegetarian and vegan restaurants may seem a bit out of the way. But they are well worth the trip, and as it turns out, you don’t need to feel like you’re making the drive just for a quick bite to eat.

Here I present to you some of my favourite summer (or fall) pairings of lovely hikes and suburban dining options.

Lion’s Valley Park and Vegebitez: If you haven’t yet been to Vegebitez in Oakville, you are in for a mighty surprise. You’ll find things on the menu at this fully vegan joint that you just haven’t seen anywhere else, I promise. Like a build-your-own mac and cheese that starts with a smoked gouda sauce and ends with whatever your heart desires and can include BBQ or Buffalo soy curls, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, or cashew queso.

When you’re finished eating, drive just around the corner to Lion’s Valley Park which is a huge, gorgeous ravine system and has a loop trail that will keep you busy 1-2 hours depending on your pace.

*Note: Vegebitez gives TVA members 10% off!

Terra Cotta, Limehouse and Cheltenham, and HealthENut Cafe and Juice Bar

After a hike in the heat of the summer, it might be a cool, fresh smoothie or big salad that you’re craving. So after visiting Terra Cotta or Limehouse Conservation Areas, stop by HealthENut Café and Juice Bar in Georgetown. If you’ve worked up a big appetite, don’t fret! This raw, vegan café also has wraps, sandwiches, raw pizza, and daily rotating entrees such as “bacon cheeseburger” or eggplant “parmesan”.

It’s also worth the trip while you’re in the area to the Cheltenham Badlands, a must-see sight if you’re into fascinating geography! These red hills will make you think you’ve taken the four-hour flight to Arizona instead of the twenty minute drive it takes to get there from HealthENut.

Halton Conservation Areas and Downtown Burlington

The most difficult thing about a day trip out to Burlington is deciding what to do and where to eat! There are both numerous conservation areas just north of Burlington (run by Halton Conservation) and numerous vegan restaurants in downtown Burlington, so you will likely find yourself wanting to plan multiple days here this summer and fall!

All clustered within blocks of each other you will find:

  • Boon Burger: The all-vegan burger chain that includes options so unique as the Indian-themed Bollywood Fire, the Mexican-style Miriachi, and the Thanksgetting, topped with yams, cranberry sauce and gravy.
  • Lettuce Love Café: Not only vegan, but gluten-free too, they are sure to win you over with their soups, bowls, and famous mac and cheese. They do weekend brunch too!
  • Kelly’s Bake Shoppe: Past champions of the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, you know to expect top notch quality at this all-vegan bakery. And did we mention there is soft serve ice cream? A perfect way to cool off after a summer hike.

Walk off your full belly with a hike at nearby Mount Nemo, Kelso Conservation Area, or Rattlesnake Point, to name just a few.

*Note: TVA members get 10% off at Boon Burger!

Wishing Well Sanctuary and Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet

Ok, so not everyone’s idyllic summer day involves a hike in the scorching summer sun. Some of us go into a bit of a food coma after indulging in a hearty meal, and would rather reflect on the lives we just saved by eating a plant-based lunch.

Well you can do more than just reflect, you can actually visit a farmed animal sanctuary and meet those very animals first-hand! Wishing Well Sanctuary, which holds frequent open house days for visitors, happens to be just a 20 minute drive from Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet.

If you haven’t been to Vidya’s yet, you are in for a real treat. Their vegetarian menu (almost anything can be made vegan if it isn’t already) is carefully and exquisitely put together with incredible care, and they don’t skimp on portions. There’s something for everyone on this eclectic menu including poutine, ceaser salad, chana masala and Thai-Malaysian noodles.

*TVA members get 10% off at Vidya’s Veggie Gourmet!