It’s kind of pretty there.
Victoria! It’s only a quick ferry ride over an island-dotted strait from Vancouver, and yet it feels like an oasis far away from home… I love Victoria and even used to live there, which I’d do again if only there were jobs… and people who lived there all year. Anyway, Victoria’s a pretty vegan-friendly city, even if it’s tiny. The people who choose to live in Victoria do so for a reason – often because they love the slow pace and liberal politics of the province’s capitol.
It’s also a beautiful town, and you can ferry directly from downtown Vic to downtown Seattle, or to Port Angeles. It’s a bit more of a pain to get to Victoria from Vancouver, but it’s doable on either a bicycle or on public transit. Look it up online or ask me. I love helping. It makes me feel smart.
On the Ferry
Oh, no! You forgot to pack a lunch and you’re starving to death on BC Ferries with only the cafeteria as your companion. What to do? Well, if you really can’t wait, here are some options.
- Fries, yam fries, or hashbrowns: If you’re taking any sailing before noon, get the hashbrowns. Otherwise, yep, good old deep fried potato matter. Your best friend again.
- Veggie chili: Order this plate with garden salad instead of caesar, no cheese, and a bun instead of garlic bread. It’ll do.
- Salads, sandwiches: There is sometimes a Moroccan rice wrap that’s vegan, and you may find a kamut and cranberry salad that costs $7 and will not even remotely fill you up. I don’t recommend it.
So Good soy milk: Yep, they carry soy milk, only it’s not organic and (if I remember correctly) contains some non-vegan ingredient. I would suggest that you drink that coffee black. Triple O’s Veggie Burger: While I have not verified this, hearsay suggests that the veggie burger on the ferry is not vegan.
Food for Your Belly
The Joint Pizzeria – 1219 Wharf St at Yates
The Joint is right next door to Tattoo Zoo, and probably because of that, makes incredible vegan pizza. They have an array of different crusts, different cheeses, different sauces – including vegan pesto – and faux meats to choose from. Design your own pizza or calzone, and top it off with one of their changing-daily vegan dessert options. I crave this place all the time.
“Personal” pizza from The Joint
Green Cuisine – 560 Johnson St, downstairs at Market Square
Victoria’s classic all-vegan hippie restaurant is a pay-by-the-100g buffet. They make some really delicious items, for sure, but the thing I love most (and never fail to eat while I’m in Victoria) is the mud pie bar. Goodness, gracious, me oh my. Green Cuisine also makes their own tofu, tempeh, seitan, mochi, and vegan beverages, which you may have seen in your local grocery, and which you may buy directly from Green Cuisine for much cheaper. For extra fun, when you leave Green Cuisine, take a left into the alleyway, look for the second-story patio ahead of you, and go ’round to Solstice Cafe for a post-meal coffee.
Lotus Pond – 617 Johnson St
This all-vegan Chinese place is a local hipster favourite. Sure, supper there is good, and lunch (a pay-by-the-100g buffet) is good, too, but the real reason Lotus Pond is so darn popular is because at 2:30pm – in preparation for closing at 3pm until supper – their lunch buffet is half price. For $5 you can eat until you get ill, and all of it is fried and delicious. Be careful, though – if you want to get in on the deal you’ll have to line up, and there’s no guarantee that when you get to the front of the line there’ll be anything good left over. Lotus Pond has started to cater to the massive jobless youth population of Victoria, however, by refilling their buffet items after 2:30.
Lotus Pond’s buffet lunch
Venus Sophia Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery – 540 Fisgard
A little deeper into Chinatown you’ll find Venus Sophia, a new little spot featuring too-cute decor, a bicycle theme, and lots of vegan and vegetarian snacks. They also have a great selection of tea and a bunch of comfy spots to sit while you drink it. None of their sweets/desserts are vegan at the moment but many of their savoury items are.
Mo:le – 544 Pandora
On the more upscale side, there’s Mo:le – delicious, fresh food in a lovely environment. There’s almost always a brunch lineup here but it’s probably some of the best food in Victoria. They also offer raw vegan options. I’ve only eaten here a couple of times but it’s certainly worth a visit.
Lady Marmalade – 608 Johnson
A pretty basic, not-so-cheap brunch restaurant that has a fairly delicious tofu scramble. This is my brunch recommendation; go forth, and scram. They also have a vegan lunch/dinner option.
Lady Marmalade is decorated with a collection of beautiful old toasters
Coffee, Tea, and Beverages
Habit – 552 Pandora
A coffee house beside Mo:le, where all the hipsters go to caffeinate themselves. It’s very stylish and the coffee is incredible.
Solstice Cafe – 529 Pandora
A little hippie cafe with some vegan food (including a smoked tofu bagel, yum) and incredibly cute baristas. I always stop here for coffee when I’m in town; it’s a beautiful place and the food is great. I’ve had better coffee, but you have to sacrifice something. Last time I was at Solstice, I could smell the body odour from the street and had to leave; Victoria has a thriving tree-dwelling hippie scene and they love Solstice as much as I do, apparently. I have no problem with hippies but I can’t enjoy my coffee when all I can smell is sweat.
Solstice’s vegan apple crumble and a soy latte. Perfect.
Panacea Bubble Tea House – 532 Fisgard
Nestled at the back of a clothing store in Chinatown is this little bubble tea place. You can order anything made with soy rather than milk. Teigan, a vegan who works at Panacea, has this to say: “…while all the “tangy” or clear bubble teas are totally vegan, the majority of the creamy flavours have casein in them So although there is the option for soy/almond milk, creamy flavours (with the exception of a few) still aren’t vegan.”
Chinatown Bean Around the World – 533 Fisgard
When I lived in Victoria, this was my go-to coffee shop after a night of drinking, and I always ran into some of my companions from the night before. They stock vegan baked goods, or at least they did when I lived there.
Other Vegan Victoria
Tattoo Zoo – 1215 Wharf at Yates
This is where I get tattooed. It’s owned by vegan tattoo artist Gerry Kramer and his wife Sarah, who you may have heard of. All of Sarah’s cookbooks are available for sale at the ‘Zoo, and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to get her to sign them for you… in the flesh. Gerry uses vegan inks, though I can’t speak for everyone who works at the shop. Go get a tattoo, and while you’re waiting, eat a pizza from The Joint next door.
I worked here for a summer when I was eighteen. Isn’t it cozy?
Sarah’s Place – 533 Pandora
Sarah Kramer of the How It All Vegan series of cookbooks has her own little vegan shop in Victoria. The cute, heritage, high-ceilinged shop is filled with clothing, snacks, accessories, and other little vegan sundries. Of course, it’s also filled with Sarah herself and her companion Fergus. See below.
Value Village – 1810 Store St
What’s more vegan than secondhand clothes and household items? Victoria also has the best Value Village I’ve ever been to. It’s the only one in the city, and it’s downtown, so make sure to stop there if you want a great, cheap shopping experience. (It’s just down the street from Tattoo Zoo and The Joint – Wharf turns into Store. Head away from downtown, 3 blocks.)
Market on Yates – 903 Yates
This neon-fancy downtown grocery store is pricy, but has lots of vegan specialty items and some vegan baked goods in the deli. I remember how incredible this was to me when I was a new vegan living in Victoria in 2004, but you couldn’t get Earth Balance at Safeway back then. Ah, how things have changed!
Planet Organic – 3995 Quadra
The other local health food store. Kind of out of the way unless you’re driving; everything else I’ve listed is downtown and easy to hit in less than a day of walking around.
There are a couple of businesses listed in The Victoria Vegan’s guide that I haven’t visited, so if this list doesn’t satisfy you, check theirs out.