Although recent years have seen an increase of vegan and vegetarian diets and restaurants, I remember a time when veganism was incredibly uncommon in the Region.

Just over five years ago, I had just one vegan friend and only knew of two exclusively vegan restaurants in the Region, one of which being Thrive.

When I first stepped foot into Thrive — my first vegan restaurant in my unexpanded and at-the-time omnivorous life, I was skeptical.

However, Thrive served refined, yet hearty plates of burgers, nachos, pancake brunches and an array of desserts. Are chocolate chip cookies and burritos vegan? They can be!

Nowadays, although the first restaurant I tried in the vegan realm is no longer in operation, you’ll find an abundance of plant-based locales region-wide.

Naïvely, I once believed vegan food could be anything but delicious and all-encompassing. While many local establishments offer plant-based alternatives (usually of the Beyond Meat variety), the following restaurants offer entirely or mostly vegan and vegetarian menu, or have an extensive plant-based menu available at all times.

Whether you’re looking for a cozy brunch spot, a sweet treat or a bustling Friday night dinner, these spots have you covered.

Café Pyrus & Café Pyrus Outpost

16 Charles St W, Kitchener (Original) & 150 Roger St, Waterloo (Outpost)

If you’re looking for: Casual breakfast or lunch.

How many plants? Almost everything is vegan. I believe the only non-vegan food options are cheese and milk.

Superpower: Breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon buns.

Zero Waste Bulk

110 King St S Unit B, Waterloo

If you’re looking for: Donuts  and plant-based cooking or baking ingredients.

How many plants? 99 per cent plant-based.

Superpower: A BYO-container policy — bring your own containers and spare the usual plastic waste that comes with grocery shopping or takeout. P.S. I’m sure most places on this list would be happy to put your to-go bakery items or food in a container if you brought your own.

Jane Bond

5 Princess St W, Waterloo

If you’re looking for: An eclectic and cozy dinner spot with frequent live music and comedy.

How many plants? Entirely vegetarian with a lot of vegan options.

Superpower: Cauliflower wings and unique feature dishes

Okay Great Coffee

1 Water St N, Cambridge

If you’re looking for: A charming coffee shop with breakfast oats, toast, and goodies.

How many plants? 100 per cent vegan.

Superpower: Unique toast toppings on bakery bread.

Ce Food Experience

136 Moore Ave S, Waterloo

If you’re looking for: Takeout bakery.

How many plants? Not all plant-based, but an array of vegan options.

Superpower: Amazing sourdough bread and rotating vegan cupcake flavours.

Show & Tell Coffee

30 Ontario St N, Kitchener

If you’re looking for: A light brunch and an innovative lineup of specialty coffees.

How many plants? Most fare is vegan, and all drinks can be made with plant-based alternatives.

Superpower: Vegan Oreo chip cookies and creative coffee-based drinks like Froot Loop cereal milk lattes.

Queen Street Commons & Fresh Ground

43 Queen St S, Kitchener (Queen Street) & 256 King St E, Kitchener (Fresh Ground)

If you’re looking for: An inexpensive lunch spot specializing in soups, sandwiches and salads.

How many plants? Fresh Ground is mostly vegan and Queen Street Commons is vegetarian.

Superpower: By supporting these cafes, you support The Working Centre, a Kitchener-based non-profit that dedicated to supporting and elevating our community.

Beertown & The Bauer Kitchen

75 King St S, Waterloo (Beertown), 187 King St S, Waterloo (TBK)

If you’re looking for: A buzzing dinner spot with gourmet comfort food.

How many plants? Both have extensive vegan menus; Beertown’s has been around for a while and TBK just launched theirs.

Superpower: TBK just came out with a vegan ‘eggs’ bennie (very intriguing), and Beertown has amazing vegan tacos.