I usually only write about businesses that have something to do with sustainability or zero waste. But I get direct messages and emails asking me for my recommendations for zero-waste-friendly vegan places almost every day, so I thought it was about time I shared my favorite spots with everyone!
Please bear in mind that most of those businesses do not even know what zero waste is! But they have all been very nice and accommodating with our zero waste wishes—and we love the food there!
Remember to bring your own chopsticks if you want to have Asian food, and your own reusables (e.g. container/jar) if you want take-out or your snack to go!
Zero Waste Stores
The Soap Dispensary
The Soap Dispensary is my favorite store in all of Vancouver! It is truly a zero waster’s paradise! Like its name suggests, is a refill shop for soap, DIY ingredients, but they also carry food items like soy sauce, cookings oils, spices, herbs, and tofu that are otherwise very hard to come by. Everything there you can buy unpackaged. They strongly encourage people to bring their own containers, jars, or bags. They even have three boxes where people can donate their containers for other customers to use.
It is also the best place to buy zero waste non-food items. You can get everything from stainless steel containers, bamboo toothbrushes, produce bags, mason jar add-ons to menstrual cloth pads, plastic-free baby bottles, and plastic-free hair brushes. They have a list of their assortment on their website so customers can come prepared! ❤️
They were able to rent the store next door just recently. Very soon (probably by end of September 2017), they will open the new space filled with food items, from dry staples like rice and legumes to frozen berries sold in bulk! I will definitely write an article when they open their extension, so stay tuned!
Nada, formerly known as the Zero Waste Market, will be a zero waste bulk store specializing in food. So far, they have been operating as a pop-up stand at events and in other stores. You can check out when and where they will pop up and the events they organize on their Facebook page.
They support local suppliers and are very active in the local zero waste community. The assortment is still quite limited due to the fact that you obviously only have limited space as a stand, but that will change very soon! They have been able to secure a brick and mortar location and it is rumored they will be opening their gates as soon as fall 2017! Fingers crossed!
My Instagram followers know this—I am a huge farmers market geek! We are very lucky here, because Vancouver’s farmers markets are definitely among the best in North America (I am biased though 😆). Not to mention that there are only very few weeks in the year without a farmers market somewhere in the city!
Reselling is not allowed, so everything you can buy there was either grown or hand-crafted by the folks selling it at the market. So almost everything you can get there is local and seasonal. Some farmers have greenhouses, so if you see out-of-season produce you can always ask them how they run their greenhouses (e.g. do they heat the greenhouses? If so, with what? Do they have additional lighting?). There is no restriction on distance except for vendors to come from BC. However, the restriction comes naturally from the distance the vendors are willing to travel to set up a stall at the market. Bringing your own produce bags and containers is encouraged by the farmers markets.
There are signs on stalls that are certified organic. Really, the farmers are just the best! I always ask for recommendations and recipes. There are food trucks at the markets, too! And I know most of them won’t mind if you bring your own mug, container, or cutlery. I can’t recommend any food trucks because we usually head to the market right after we had breakfast, so we never eat there.
Two of our favorite farms selling their produce at the markets are Cropthorne from Ladner (great variety and baskets so you don’t even need produce bags) and Klippers Organics from Similkameen Valley (they have a lot of really unusual veggies and recipes so you know how to prepare them ❤️). Blackberry Hill has the best vegan chocolate cake in town (the lovely lady also sells vegan cinnamon buns, apple cake, and date squares). You can call her in advance and she will set a piece aside for you, because, trust me, the chocolate cake sells fast 😉! Modprairiegirl got us hooked on her all-natural, low sugar, pectin-free jams made from local fruits. If you order in advance she will set aside some jars without the labels! Our favorite bakery is A Bread Affair. Their chocolate bread is vegan and to die for!
There are so many more awesome farmers and crafty folks at the farmers markets, and I am sure picking out the ones we frequent doesn’t do all of them justice! Besides, we usually go to the same ones, so we don’t even know every single vendor. Well, you know what that means—you will have to check them out yourself 😉! You can check out the market schedule, all vendors, etc. here.
If you are vegan like we are, you most likely use the Happy Cow app anyway. Getting vegan food in a zero waste manner is as easy as going to one of those places and ordering your food “for here, without any disposables”. Unless, of course, you are waltzing into some fast food joint that serves everything on disposables only. But even there you will most likely get away with bringing your own food container.
If you want to avoid those nasty BPA-coated receipts, you will be more successful at places with counter service as opposed to table service. But even in restaurants with table service, you can still ask them to not print the receipt, if possible, and just telling you the amount when you ask for the check.
Anyway, here are our favorite places. We are not strict clean eaters, but we do prefer food prepared from scratch using fresh, unprocessed ingredients, simply because it tastes better! The following places all have pretty clean food, and I am sure you could call in advance and ask them if you have something specific in mind.
And please—do let me know about your favorite places here in Vancouver so we can check them out!
The Workshop (North Vancouver)
The Workshop is a vegetarian eatery in North Vancouver where you can get Japanese noodles with a modern twist. They make their ramen and udon noodles from scratch (!) and prepare their food with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. The noodle soups are to die for! It is one of our all-time favorite restaurants, food-wise!!
They also have baked goods, however, some of them are pre-wrapped in cling film. Remember to bring your own chopsticks! They have counter service, so we haven’t received a receipt.
Harvest Community Foods (Chinatown)
Harvest Community Foods is a cross-over between a corner store grocer and an eatery with vegetarian/vegan options. They offer commitment-free CSA boxes and are strongly rooted in the community. However, the CSA boxes are not free from single-use plastics because they pre-portion the produce into plastic bags. Their noodle soups are rich in flavor and you can tell that they use fresh, unprocessed ingredients. We don’t go for their CSA boxes, but we do sometimes buy some loose produce there.
They provide “real” chopsticks, so you will not have to bring your own. No receipts because it is counter service.
Shizenya (Downtown, Mount Pleasant)
Shizenya is our favorite sushi place (we have only been to the Downtown location though). They have a vegan menu, use mostly organic ingredients, and you can substitute rice for quinoa.
They are very accommodating and very happy when customers bring their own containers to get take-out. However, do remember to bring your own chopsticks and prepared to get a receipt because it gets printed automatically.
Kurumucho Japanese Taco (Downtown)
Japanese tacos—I know right?! We just had to try those creations, and what can I say: they were soooooo goood!! We really loved Kurumucho‘s take on tacos and appreciate that they were indeed very vegan-friendly and also accommodating. They were very careful to make sure our food was completely free of any disposables, which is also why I am certain that bringing your own containers for take-out shouldn’t be a problem. The receipt gets printed out automatically, so it cannot be avoided there.
Ramen Gojiro (Downtown)
In case you haven’t noticed… We love ramen! Um, yeah, we are crazy for all kinds of noodle soups LOL! Gojiro only has one (delicious!) vegan option, but the nice staff really makes up for that! It is a very busy shop (be prepared to wait in line in front of the restaurant), and yet they already remembered that we do not want a receipt the second time we went there! They either just tell us the amount or write it down on a piece of paper without us asking them for it! They have also complimented us on our chopsticks, awwww! They only have disposable chopsticks, so remember to bring your own!
MeeT (Gastown, Main)
MeeT is a vegan restaurant where you can get burgers, fries, but also great salads and bowls! The food is amazing and even wows meat lovers! We have been to both locations and I recommend the Gastown location. Not only is it a very nice space, but the food quality is more consistent there. We have been there with several meat lovers that were all exceptionally happy afterwards. We even tricked some and only told them it was vegan afterwards 😇. Be prepared to stand in line for up to an hour and a receipt at the end of your meal, for it seems that it will get printed automatically. If you do not like to stand in line, go there before 6pm (no guarantee though!).
Sejuiced is a juice bar that also offers great vegetarian food with lots of fresh veggies! We love their bowls and the energy ball! They are very accommodating, but you have to remember to ask for the dressing not on the side or it will come in a small paper cup. If I remember correctly we also never got a receipt, but I might be wrong.
Chau Veggie Express (East Side)
Chau Veggie Express is a all-vegan Vietnamese restaurant with two locations. I was told that their location on Granville Island only serves food in disposables 😱, whereas, for some reason, their East Side location strongly encourages their customers to bring their own containers for take-out. As they state on their website: “As a member of the local community, we take initiative in food security, sustainability, consciousness, and education – one veggie meal at a time.”
We have only been to the East Side location once and the food was exceptional. I do not remember if they had reusable chopsticks or if we got a receipt though.
Haru Korean Kitchen (Gastown)
Haro Korean Kitchen offers authentic, healthy Korean food in a modern, minimalist setting. They have vegan options (you will have to ask though) and stainless steel chopsticks. The paper napkins are already set on the table, so make sure to tell them to take those away as soon as the server shows up. Do not touch them or they might get tossed. The food is very good and it is just a very nice place to have dinner at. I am afraid I do not remember whether or not we could go receipt-free there though?
Bandidas Taquería (Commercial)
Bandidas Taquería is a Mexican restaurant with the coolest brunch (be prepared for a wait). You can make anything vegan and they do have really cool “substitutes”, which they also explain in the menu. Frankly, even if I weren’t vegan, I would have probably chosen the vegnizations because they just sound so much cooler! Why would you want scrambled eggs if you can have butternut squash and tofu scramble instead! We have no idea if they print the receipts automatically since we went there with a bunch of other people and we usually just go with the flow to not overcomplicate things.
Budda-Full (North Vancouver)
Budda-Full is an organic vegan restaurant where you can also get raw and gluten-free options. The food is full of freshness, the cake items are to die for, and the karma is great, too! ✨ You do not get a receipt either (it’s counter service), yay!
Virtuous Pie (Chinatown)
Virtous Pie is a vegan pizza place with fresh ingredients and cool flavor combos. I went for the kimchi pizza there and was blown away! They serve all of their pizzas on a wooden board with a piece of wax paper. I was worried that they would forget about not putting the paper there, because it was very, very busy, and those are usually the things that get lost along the process. But no, they remembered despite the place being swamped! I don’t think we got a receipt there since it was counter service, but I might be wrong?
Josie, Ours (Kitsilano)
Josie’s is a small, authentic Taiwanese vegetarian restaurant where you do not get the Americanized pan-Asian dishes, but food like you would be served in a family home in Taiwan. The owner, Josie, is hilarious and warm and the dumpling she makes are just incredible!
The Naam (Kitsilano)
I only included the Naam in the list because it is a very well-established vegetarian restaurant that everybody knows and often recommends. However, we don’t like the food very much. Some items were quite good, but some were just, um, not very well executed, and the quality isn’t very consistent. We only go there for social reasons. Things that we liked there were the beer, the fries with the miso gravy, and the burgers. But again, the quality wasn’t very consistent when we went there.
It was never an issue when we refused the napkins, however, the receipt gets printed automatically.
Coffee shops all have the tendency to hand you your beverages in a to-go cup, unless you state that you want it “for here”, in “a real mug”. These coffee shops have all been very nice to us when we placed our (unusual?) order, and we have always been able to even get cold beverages in a mug without a straw instead of a single-use plastic cup. Oh, and they all have free WiFi and are just very nice places to hang out at!
- Dalina (Chinatown) | A very minimalist, Italian coffee shop and deli, great vegan peanut butter bar and brownie
- Honolulu Coffee (Downton) | Single-origin coffee from Hawaii and organic tea
- Pacific Coffee Roasters (Downtown) | Best coffee we know of in Vancouver, the coffee is Fairtrade and organic
- Nemesis Coffee (Gastown) | Rad music, great coffee, chill location
- Nusa Coffee (Kitsilano) | Single-origin coffee from Indonesia and organic tea
- Kafka’s Coffee and Tea (Mount Pleasant) | Tea sourced directly from farmers
- Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House (multiple locations) | Organic & Fairtrade coffee, they describe themselves as a “European style café”, but um, if you’re from Europe like we are: it is a North American style coffee shop 😜
Bakeries & Sweets
- A Bread Affair (Granville Island) | Our favorite organic bakery, we are addicted to their chocolate bread!
- Beyond Bread Artisan Bakery (Kitsilano) | Great hearty organic breads with a crunchy crust
- Cartems Donuterie (Downtown, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant) | Made from scratch, all-natural, transfat-free (donuts are fried in coconut oil), gluten-free and vegan options
- Aphrodite’s Organic Café and Pie Shop (Kitsilano) | Delicious pies, vegan and gluten-free options, but they bake them in single-use aluminum trays