As a longtime vegetarian, I was a bit apprehensive–from a food perspective that is–about moving to Canada. But In fact, I needn’t have worried. Around 4% of Canadians now follow a vegetarian diet and it wasn’t as difficult as I expected to find vegetarian ready meals and products.
Browse the aisles
Many grocery stores carry quite a wide range of vegetarian and vegan products. One of the more well-known brands is Yves Veggie, which offers a huge range of meat substitutes such as veggie bacon, turkey slices, and pizza pepperoni . These are readily available at most major supermarkets. Gardein is another popular Canadian-based option and there are also “own-brand” options such as President’s Choice Blue Menu. Daiya “cheese” is also more widely available now. One tip: vegetarian mince (as I knew it in the UK) is known here as “Ground Round.”
Buy in bulk
Also check out Bulk Barn It claims to be Canada’s largest bulk food retailer and has stores across Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island They have a wide variety of sauce and soup mixes, a veggie chilli mix and tofu, as well as vitamins, herbal remedies and natural skincare products. They also have a great range of teas, coffees and home baking products, so well worth a look.
Make your own menu!
Most restaurants here offer quite a decent number of vegetarian options, even in the smaller towns. And of course if you’re in one of the big cities, you’ll have no problem getting hold of all sorts of cuisine. Vegan is slightly tougher, but as plant-based diets are becoming more mainstream I’m starting to see a few vegan options slowly creeping onto menus. There is such an emphasis on good customer service here, so even if you do come across a restaurant that doesn’t have any suitable options they are usually happy to make or adapt something for you.
Not long after moving to Canada, I ended up at Red Lobster for dinner. As the name would suggest, definitely no veggie options happening here! There was nothing on the menu I could eat, so I asked for a baked potato with a sauce and side veggies. They were quite happy to prepare this for me and one of the other diners actually ordered the same meal because it looked so good!
Join a group
There’s a large network of vegetarian societies across Canada that offer cookery classes and pot-luck suppers among their activities. Joining a local group offers an ideal opportunity to make new friends and find out more about the best places to shop for veggie products. Here are a few links to get you started.
Vegan Dad – this was one of my favourite blogs. Sadly it’s no longer updated, but it’s still fun to browse the archives about this Northern Ontario Dad and his adventures bringing up his four children on a vegan diet.