Keep it Local Victoria: 10 Vegan-friendly Businesses to Support in 2021
Updated: Jan 24
Alright. So the ongoing pandemic and the recent restrictions have made it difficult to do pretty much anything but go on a hike around here (and for good reason). I certainly miss the simple joy of going to a restaurant with friends, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. But here in Victoria, we love to support locally owned businesses, don’t we? We have a bunch of lovely new(ish) businesses doing their best to survive these tough times, so let’s do our best to keep them afloat, OK? Here are some of my favourite local businesses that we can all help out by grabbing some takeout or a coffee as we collectively wait for brighter days to come.
1-1115 N Park St, Victoria
Blueberry pancakes from Fern Cafe
If you’re one of Victoria’s many passionate vegans, this first choice might be a little obvious. In the short period of just two years, Fern Café and Bakery has established themselves as a community favourite for cruelty-free/palm-oil free meals and baked goods. They are, in fact, one of the only 100% vegan heroes of the local restaurant biz. Their takeout window with a cute wooden patio is definitely the best spot to get a big bad cinnamon bun, a feature doughnut, or a “chickun” burger and poutine [as seen in the main image of this article] if you got your workouts in that week (please, no one show my personal trainer my Instagram page). Bonus points for serving Discovery Coffee and now, for a limited time, Nutella lattes. There are so many reasons to love this place, but one of the main ones is definitely the kickass young family who bust their tails to support the vegan community every single day. Well done, Fern!
1025 Cook St, Victoria
Spiced porridge from Bear & Joey
As someone who has lived in Australia for a brief period of time, I can say with full confidence that Australians are the brunch champions of the western world. Bear & Joey has brought Sydney’s elevated café aesthetic to Victoria. It’s a beautiful look and feel that we could certainly use more of, in my opinion. I absolutely adore the colorful and modern layout of this space and the fact that they change their décor to match the seasons. Not to mention the coffee is absolutely next-level. I appreciate the fact that they have vegan options such as a baked chocolate donut and carrot cake. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, try the spiced porridge. This is the perfect spot to sip a mimosa on a Sunday afternoon as well. For those who prefer to stick to the outdoors, Bear & Joey’s heated terrace is also open for the winter.
2506 Douglas, Victoria
Working Culture Bread & Coffee
Yet another adorable café and bakery has recently opened up shop in the last few months. Working Culture Bread keeps it simple with a bright and open space with a small menu, serving up some delicious artisanal loaves of bread, most of which are vegan. They also offer vegan pretzels, you know the big ones with the salt that you would get at a baseball game, except better. I would highly recommend walking over there for an oat milk latte and a baguette. Stop in and say hello to the owners, they are often working the counter and are super nice as well.
1900 Douglas, Victoria
Now located where the old Paul’s Motor Inn used to be, this fantastic not-for-profit restaurant has set up shop to increase food security in our city. For now, they are serving up pay-what-you-can coffees, hearty daily soups, and pastries. The plan is to develop a full food menu in the coming months where nothing will exceed $10, so stay tuned. I absolutely love this place because their outstanding team of volunteers work tirelessly to feed the unhoused community, as well as many others in need of extra support. Since the spring, their team has moved on to serving over 2000 free meals a week (vegan and regular) to those needing extra support in these trying times. They also have a free table of grocery items outside the cafe. Stop in and say hello to their friendly staff, grab a coffee (proceeds go towards the cause), sign up to volunteer, donate to their Go Fund Me page, and spread the word!
904b Esquimalt Road, Victoria
Amazing breakfast sandwiches at Bunny’s
Bunny’s Kitchen has the warm and alluring aroma that is everything a local diner should be. This is a cozy little place where all of the food has such an genuine homemade feel. My personal favourite addictive menu item is the vegan breakfast sandwich: tofu, cheeez, Very Good Butcher patty, avocado, and vegan pesto (or spicy mayo) on a Portofino bun. Great for takeout that can be enjoyed at a local lookout spot, such as Saxe Point. Bunny’s also offers epic vegan desserts and lavender milkshakes, so go see what it’s all about.
667 Fort St, Victoria
Strawberry peach duo iced tea at Flourish Beautea
For the most gorgeous drink you have ever cast your eyes upon, look no further. This new tea shop has some beautiful and unique beverages infused with fruits and flowers. I tried the rose emerald tea, which I very much enjoyed. It was definitely my first time trying rose petals, which are apparently very good for you as they are high in anti-oxidants. This wonderful local business set up shop in the fall, so next time you’re downtown, consider grabbing a hot or cold drink. The drinks are all beyond insta-worthy as is the shop itself, and the service is awesome too.
705 Johnson St, Victoria
Cheers to vegan milkshakes and Guess Who at Board with Friends
Whether you’re a serious board game fanatic, or just a sucker for nostalgic 90s games like me (Guess Who or Connect 4, anyone?), this is a fun place to make some memories with friends. 5$ will get you unlimited game play with a huge selection of games to choose from. Since opening on Thanksgiving weekend, this game café has served up some seriously delicious vegan options, such as 1950’s style milkshakes using Parachute ice cream (regular milkshakes also available).I opted for the mudslide and my partner Wes got the Oreo milkshake, both of which were definitely something to write home about (and less than 6$!). Board with Friends also serves vegan paninis and other small snacks. Not looking to play a game? Get their milkshakes or paninis for takeout or order delivery on Tutti. If you do decide to stop in, you’ll be greeted by the very personable owners who look forward to teaching us all how to play a game or two.
787 Fort St, Victoria
Vegan cheeseburgers, we love to see it!
We loved the food truck and now we love the new shop! It’s no secret that our beloved Burger Crush food truck has some of the best vegan cheese burgers in town, as well as the best California-esque sign art, but did you know they also have tofu nuggets and Cold Comfort milkshakes? Now you do. Word on the street is this classic burger and shake place also has “crushed fries”: fries topped with fried onions, cheeze, and burger sauce. Many of us are excited to see them move into their new down town space.
617 Johnson St, Victoria
Lotus Pond’s mock chicken balls with pineapple
Alright, so the rest of the list has been mostly new businesses open in the last year or so, but let us show some must needed respect to the OGs. Lotus Pond, otherwise known as my favourite restaurant in the city, has served up authentic vegan Chinese food for over two decades. Two decades?! Talk about being ahead of the curve. Their pineapple and lemon soya balls are my go-to order here. Always friendly and very affordable, I urge you to support this place by ordering takeout or delivery as they have supported the community for so long.
Order on their Facebook page [food truck location TBD]
Samosa King’s spinach and potato samosas
Another business that has been around for years but still deserves some further recognition is none other than the Samosa King! They are offering fantastic vegan samosa (vegetable or spinach potato) for only $2.50 each. They are also now delivering them right to your door at no extra charge. Order some fresh samosas today from this sweet family business and you can thank me later.
Well, it’s the end of the article. I know at least some of you are thinking: “HEY! What about my favourite place [insert amazing locally owned place here]?!”. I could go on all day, but I simply cannot name them all. This is a list of some local faves that I have been frequenting lately. Honourable mentions also go to other vegan-friendly businesses that are a little more established. To this I would add Virtuous Pie, Taco Justice, Pure Lovin’ Chocolate, Yonni’s doughnuts, Very Good Butchers, Superbaba, Delhi (which is now all vegan, yay!), and Be Love. Follow my Instagram account and the Vegans of Victoria Facebook page for even more plant-based inspo.
Let me know what your favourite local spots are in social media comments, so that everyone can check them out!