I Tried 3 Vegan Poutine Spots in Canada and Here Are My Totally Honest Thoughts (PHOTOS)


This Review article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.

Since I arrived in the country a few months ago, I have been trying to find some of the best poutines in Canada.

This unofficial national dish of Canada features fries drizzled with gravy and cheese curds and, for many, it’s the best way to get to know the place.

And one of my favorite things about it is that there are so many toppings available to try – everything from sausages to pulled pork.

It wasn’t until a friend mentioned vegan poutine to me that I realized there was a variety I really missed.

For starters, what is vegan poutine? Well, the obvious factor that keeps poutine from being vegan is the cheese curds.

But after researching it, it became apparent that brown gravy is also traditionally made with chicken or beef broth, which means that traditional versions of this beloved dish are neither vegan nor vegetarian.

But surely a vegan version of such a popular dish must exist? As someone who is constantly trying to reduce their meat intake, I was intrigued.

A quick online scan confirmed that it existed, so I took it upon myself to try it out with an open mind.

And I did even better, finding three different places that served the vegan version of the dish near my home in Toronto.

Vegan poutine isn’t always easy to find

Vegan poutine at Parka Food Co.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

Although several places show up when searching online, vegan poutine is not as readily available as I thought in Toronto. I asked a bunch of restaurants, only to be told they didn’t have a vegan variety.

This includes Smoke’s Poutinerie which had a bunch of very delicious vegetarian options like cauliflower without butter chicken and buffalo ranch cabbage. But unfortunately, no vegan-specific entry.

I eventually found it at a variety of fast food vegan restaurants in Toronto. And a waiter informed me that it’s more readily available in Montreal, where they used “plant-based mozzarella” – so that’s something.

It all comes down to the “cheese” used

u200bJanice Rodrigues poses with a poutine.

Janice Rodrigues poses with a poutine.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

My first stop was Parka Food Co. which served poutine fries with cashew “cheese” sauce and organic sauce.

I was a little apprehensive opening the box. For starters, I’m not a big fan of cashews and, well, can you really call this poutine without the cheese curds?

When I took my first bite, I realized yes. Parka Food Co.’s vegan poutine was actually pretty awesome. The fries were thinner than usual, but they were perfectly salty and crispy.

Meanwhile, the cheese sauce was delicious, a little thick and creamy – a bit like thick tomato sauce – and a little salty on its own, but it complemented the fries perfectly.

According to the server, it’s homemade with vegetables and unprocessed, which also makes it a healthier option.

Finally, the mushroom sauce, with small pieces of mushrooms, was a nice touch and added richness to the dish.

A friend noted that it lacked the cheese curds which “helps cut the fat”, but I wouldn’t mind ordering this one again at all.

Bonus point: I left lighter than with an ordinary poutine!

Price: $10.50

It’s a bit risky

u200bVegan poutine at Fresh Restaurants.

Vegan poutine at Fresh Restaurants.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

Overconfident of my success, I decided to visit one of Toronto’s most beloved vegan chains – Fresh Restaurants.

It’s a great option as it has branches across Toronto.

Again, their poutine offering came with fries, mushroom sauce and fresh “cheese” sauce.

The fries were a little bigger than the last place I visited, well seasoned and crispy. But the sauce was…bland.

The mushroom sauce offered some respite but didn’t really do much to the overall flavor. Worse still, it just combined with the “cheese”, leaving the fries in the center a soggy mess.

So even though the portion was big enough and the service was great, I couldn’t get on board with this one.

Price: $9.50

Don’t hit it until you try it

Smoky Pulled Jack Poutine from Odd Burger.

Smoky Pulled Jack Poutine from Odd Burger.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

My last stop of the day was Odd Burger, another vegan fast food chain.

Now this is the one that really got me excited, because the fries come with plant-based mozzarella sauce – just like I’ve heard they have in Montreal.

This restaurant had three varieties of poutine on its menu: the classic, the ChickUn BacUn and the Smoky Pulled Jack.

Unlike the last two places, I actually had vegan options here which felt pretty good.

The place looked pretty cool too, you order on a screen in the restaurant, pay and then can collect your dish when your number is called. They have both sit-down and take-out options.

As for trying something new, I ordered the Smoky Pulled Jack Poutine – and was not disappointed.

Although you might say that “pulled meat” doesn’t have the exact texture of real meat, it has that smoky barbecue taste just right. Underneath is a layer of crumbly, plant-based mozzarella that’s so good it’s easy to mistake it for the real thing.

And finally there were well seasoned fries, gravy and a sprinkle of green onions on top.

It’s a rich and comforting vegan junk food, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for the same!

Price: $9.99

I should mention that there are other vegan poutines available in Toronto – for example, The Enchanted Poutinerie, which also comes highly recommended – that I haven’t tried.

My takeout: Vegan poutine options do exist, though I would definitely like to see more. And while not all of them are a guaranteed hit, some might be good enough to convert non-vegetarians like me!


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