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July 29, 2013


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KW VEGETARIAN and VEGAN Restaurants How do you get enough protein?

Said by ignorant meataranians always.

How do you get enough fibre?

Said by no vegetarian/vegan ever.

It still amazes/shocks/annoys me how some people still wonder where vegetarians/vegans get their protein. There are so many sources of plant protein; if you compare grams per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, and spinach has approximately the same amount of protein as chicken!

General definitions:

Vegan: No meat, eggs, dairy, or anything that includes animal-derived ingredients (eg. gelatin)

Vegetarian: No meat or fish generally, with variations below

Different types of vegetarians:

Pescatarian: Eats fish

Flexitarian: Eat mostly vegetarian, but occasionally eat meat

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Eat milk and eggs

Based on my personal experiences with friends who are vegetarian/vegan, a vegetarian diet usually stems from religious reasons (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism), yogis (principle of ahimsa), and/or a strong love for animals. As veganism is more strict than vegetarianism, friends who are vegans usually do it for moral ethical reasons (against violent treatment towards animals). Of course, health is also one of the largest driving forces for going vegetarian/vegan.

Us meataranians/omnivores may think that the vegetarian/vegan way of life is difficult, but that is not true at all. It does take more effort in this meat-loving society, but have you ever been to a restaurant where they do not serve salad or some sort of vegetable-based dish? Unless it is Korean BBQ or Ribfest, there is probably always going to be alternatives available. Other than the Western salads, I found that Chinese restaurants are especially easy to go meatless with the typically elaborate menu section dedicated to stir-fry tofu/mushrooms with vegetables.

I have gotten several requests to do a vegetarian/vegan restaurant round-up, so here’s a list of my preferred places in KW for some lighter fare. I have categorized them based on Harry Potter character references (heh heh heh).



Thrive Juice Bar

THE PURE BLOOD (aka. Ronald Weasley)

(Solely vegetarian/vegan food)

Their website is horrendously outdated, but they seem active on Facebook.

Their juice bar features I-have-no-idea how many different kinds of nut butters and amazing add-ons. They offer so many variations of smoothies that their drink menu takes up a whole wall! Of course, dairy-free options are available.

Their food section is another amazing array of variety, all through an open-concept counter kitchen.

Daily features typically include a soup, curry and dessert. It was spicy Texan tortilla soup, Thai yellow peanut curry, and vegan cupcakes on the day of my visit

There is very limited seating space and they are always packed during lunch time. I recommend grabbing an early lunch or take-out if you are heading there during the lunch time rush hour.



Cafe Pyrus

Cafe Pyrus is a vegan-focused cafe right across from Charles Bus Terminal. However, they do offer cheddar if you prefer that to Daiya.

Charming ambiance, and I really enjoy how it is the perfect option for a quick and light bite before a long bus ride from Charles Bus Terminal to wherever.

Another open-concept kitchen.

They refurbished so now its bright red, sleek and modern.

So if you have not been there for a while, time to check it out again! I recommend the Angry Vegan sandwich (caramelized onion, old cheddar, spinach, tomato, artichoke spread on panini bun, with a side of quinoa).

And their barista(s) make a mean cup of cappuccino.

Thanks Ben for my first cup of almond milk cappuccino! Even without the usual dairy fat and protein, it was still a sweet foamy decadent cup with a slight hint of nutty aroma. I enjoyed it.


Seven shores Urban Market

THE HALF-BLOOD (aka. Harry Potter)

(Specializes in vegetarian/vegan food but has meaty options)

Their website also seems outdated so it is best to refer to their Facebook page. I guess Facebook is a preferred option for restaurants to communicate their latest news and daily specials since it is much more interactive than a static website.

Also renovated – much better than their previous store layout, which was way too crammed up.

Again, open-concept kitchen. Another common theme!

Love this space, props to the owners for the elegant decor.

I have tried both meaty & vegetarian/vegan options at Seven Shores. Prefers the latter.

This cafe also gets reaaaally busy so come early!


East African Cafe

I wonder if this is the only place in KW offering the eat-with-your-hands experience.

Stephen Hawking visited them once! How cool is that?

There was no one else in the restaurant but we had to wait 30 minutes for our order. We got a little impatient and frustrated as there was no one out in the front except us! No servers, no owner, nobody. A little scary.

The long wait was because the owner only starts making the dish from scratch when you order (or maybe because they just opened for lunch), so make sure you have time to spare when you head to this restaurant.

Although the wait time was unacceptably long considering there were no other customers in the house, I truly enjoyed my first African food experience.


Marbles Casual Fine Dining 

THE SEEMINGLY MUGGLE (aka. Hermione Granger)

(You don’t know its brilliance until you discover it for yourself)

At first sight, Marbles seems like the average meataranian favourite spot, with beer and cocktails and burgers and ribs.

Okay, maybe on second sight as well.

But don’t be fooled – they have awesome vegetarian/vegan options!

Raw pad-thai (my go-to order) – Asian cut vegetables in ginger almond butter sauce, topped with cashews, coconut and mango. Although you can easily julienne all the vegetables at home, I LOVE their sauce! Trust me, it is a very filling dish.

Unfortunately, I think their raw cheesecake (made with cashews) is terrible. It was served frozen as our server explained that “it will fall apart once defrosted”. We were advised to wait 5 minutes before eating, but even after 20 minutes, the cake was still rock hard! Our server offered to put it under the heat lamp, so another 10 minutes went by but only a small portion of top layer was edible. The green apple “flavour” was tasteless. Y said, “Ah, maybe because it is a vegan cheesecake so that’s why its tasteless”. NOOoooo! I’m pretty sure vegan cheesecakes taste good too. If you have tried Marbles’ cheesecake and vegan cheesecake elsewhere please let me know. I am sure there are better versions.

Though the dessert was a flop for me, I really enjoy the options available at Marbles. There is something for everyone so the stubborn meataranians (*cough Y cough) do not have to freak out about going to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and dying of hunger after the “meal without protein”.


MapleFor more information including lots of great pictures please visit Table for Maple



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About Author


Keith helps home buyers understand homes, schools and neighbourhoods in Kitchener Waterloo. He is an author, an award-winning realtor and an agent of change. On Twitter @kdmarshall. Online at

(6) Readers Comments

  1. Amanda
    July 29, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Queen Street Commons is entirely vegan / vegetarian and is incredibly affordable. There is a vegetarian cafe on duke, Breadheads is also on duke and primarily offers vegetarian pizzas (as well as other delicious meatless treats). I'm fairly certain the princess cafe offers a variety of vegetarian sandwiches, and their soup is probably always vegetarian (follow them on twitter for the daily specials). Nick and Nat's always has a vegetarian brown bag lunch on Fridays. As an omnivore with plenty of vegetarian friends, there are really a bunch of delicious veg places around!

  2. Dominika
    July 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I've had Marbles raw cheesecake dozens of time and it's always been AMAZING (never frozen or hard to eat or anything). Seriously, give the cheezecake another chance....the chocolate ones are the best!

  3. Anderson M.
    July 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    You've left out Raintree Cafe! Its a great little sit down cafe near Laurier campus with lots of veggie options but friendly for stubborn-omnivores too. It's recently under new ownership and the food and decor have only improved! Definitely worth (re)discovering.

  4. Kristin
    July 29, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Though not in KW, W.O.W makes great raw cheesecake, and the vegan chocolate cheesecake at Cornerstone is amazing. Both are in downtown Guelph.

  5. Cara
    July 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I know this is your list of personal favourites, but really? No mention of Jane Bond. Their all vegan dishes are scrumptious enough to turn any staunch meatatarian into a vegetarian. Best vegan food KW has to offer.

  6. Anna-Bell
    May 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Those of us who eat a balance of vegetables, starches and meat do not call ourselves "meatatarians" - that's a reactionary term coined by vegan's and vegetarians. My husband and I have a garden, eat 10 servings of vegies a day, are fit and healthy and our protein isn't just plant based but bio-available high quality meat protein. Research Egg's and how they are the most bio-available protein and why many vegans and veg chose to include them in their diet. As well why so many well known Vegans/Veg are creators of Protein Supplements. You can not base a diet on simply ignoring a Macro Nutrient. I eat meat, but I am fit, conscientious and do not rave and judge those who make difference choices. I have sat many times at dinner with Veg.Vegans who are not eating vegetables but bread, pasta, cheese ect. If your being asked "where do you get your protein" - think about this "To get 30 grams of usable protein for muscle building you can either eat 154 calories of chicken breast or 863 calories of Spinach"

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