Summer– with its ice creams, barbeques, lobster bakes, and rib fests – could be seen as a minefield of “have nots” for vegans. But as it turns out, with KW’s vibrant (and growing) vegan community, summer may actually be the best time to eat plant-based – that is, to eat no animal products or bi-products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. With a little help from some friends, I set out to find KW’s best vegan options.

Here are my top picks for your next meal out on the town or picnic in the park:

SMOOTHIES

GREEN: Rawlicious — Tropical Green

Tropical Green is the quintessential summer smoothie. An expert blend of banana, mango, pineapple, spinach and kale – it’s not too sweet, not too green, and tastes like summer in a (compostable) cup.

Fiddleheads - 007 smoothie 2

FRUIT: Fiddleheads — 007

This bright purple smoothie brings together the A-team of ingredients: almond milk, bananas, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple and protein powder. Be sure to ask to make this vegan or they’ll sneak in some frozen yogurt, too.

SWEET: Thrive Energy Lab — Mango Lassie

A silky smooth, bright and refreshing mix of mango, coconut water, coconut milk and spices, this drink is the perfect companion to a neighbourhood stroll, a guilt free dessert, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

LUNCH

CAFE PYRUS

When looking for recommendations on where to find the best vegan lunch, I received a resounding, ALL CAPS vote for Café Pyrus.

With staples like The Club (a toasty triple decker sandwich stacking tempeh bacon, tomato, romaine, avocado, roasted garlic aioli and vegan cheese between slices of organic multigrain bread), and The Angry Vegan (an organic, grilled panini oozing with caramelized onion, tomato, organic spinach, artichoke spread and vegan cheese), I know why it’s a community go-to.

The food at Café Pyrus is fresh, local and organic. The restaurant is casual and friendly, the coffee hot and the kombucha on tap.

Cafe PyrusOTHER GREAT OPTIONS

I’d be remiss to leave out the Bahn Mi and Peanut Lime Salad Bowl at Thrive Energy Lab, or the Quinoa Burger at Seven Shores.

DINNER

FEELING HUNGRY?

Visit East African Café for the vegan platter or The Guanaquita’s vegan burritos, tacos and chimichangas. Not only are these dishes ridiculously good, the restaurant itself is not vegan-only, making this the perfect melting pot for vegans and omnivores alike.

Jane Bond - Curry

FEELING THAT PATIO LIFE?

If you’re looking to soak up a bit of late day summer sun, snag a table out back at Jane Bond and order their Coconut Curry or Whoppie Burger.

Also check out Rawlicious’ front patio. What it may lack in ambiance, it makes up for in people (and dog) watching. Grab a seat at these red tables and enjoy a light dinner of Pad Thai made with zucchini and kelp noodles, or the Rawich, a perfectly satisfying veggie sandwich served on must-try onion bread.

DESSERTS

CINNAMON ROLLS & STICKY BUNS

The rolls at Café Pyrus are legendary. Simultaneously dense and fluffy with just the right amount of icing, these buns are Rawlicious - Salted Caramel Square 2perfectly paired with coffee and make a welcome addition to any brunch table.

More of a sticky bun person? Check out the vegan buns at Seven Shores.

SUPER SWEET TOOTH?

If you’re looking for indulgence, the salted caramel square from Rawlicious is rich and creamy. My advice: try it very cold or even frozen — it will add new layers of texture and deliciousness.