Plant Powered

A vegan diet, which means abstaining from consuming animal products (i.e. meat, dairy and eggs) is usually pursued for three reasons: health, animal rights and/or environmental conservation. So, the only thing vegans eat is garden salad, right? This is far from true. In fact, it’s possible to be vegan and a big-time foodie. With veganism growing at an astonishing rate (up 600% in the US between 2014 and 2017), many restaurants are serving more plant-based items and Fernie’s establishments are no exception. Following are several local vegan offerings. For all menu items, ensure you specify you are vegan as some require adjustments.

Yamagoya Sushi has a wide array of dishes that are vegan. For rolls, look to the Krista, Spicy Veggie, Gomae, Inari and Yam (without tomago) rolls. The epic House Salad can be made vegan with a dressing substitution, as can the Gomae Salad. Veggie Tempura, Agedashi Tofu and sweet and chewy Inari Nigiris are also great options.

The artsy and cozy Inifinitea T-Bar offers many exciting vegan meals. For appetizers, enjoy the Sourdough Bruschetta or Veggie Dip Platter with baba ganoush, arugula pesto and masala hummus. The Kale and Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is delicious lighter fare, while the house-made beet and basil Infinitea Burger on toasted artisan baguette is a heartier selection. The aptly-named Vegan Bowl consists of the veggie patty on a bed of arugula, grated carrot and brown rice cooked with raisins, topped with hummus and sunflower seeds. Every Sunday, Infinitea hosts a roast dinner where an almond nut roast is an option. Finish off with Chocolate Walnut Coconut Balls or rotating vegan baking.

Nevados recently launched a new menu with several delicious plant-based options. The Hominy Stew is a hearty winter warmer that can be easily modified for vegans, as can the Winter Salad. The Crispy Lime and Chilli Tofu Taco has received rave reviews, and the Spicy BBQ Jackfruit Taco features the plant-based version of pulled pork. The Casamiento Bowl consists of white rice, black beans, roasted root vegetables, mango, and creamy cashew red pepper tomato sauce topped with fried plantains and crispy yam curls.

Brunch is one of the rarest meals to find vegan at restaurants. The Blue Toque Gastro Diner knocks it out of the park. The daytime-only haunt boasts many options for the first meal of the day including Custom del Carmen with corn tortillas, refried black and white beans, salsa and jackfruit topped with cashew scallion crème. Victoria’s Breakfast features tofu on a bed of sautéed kale, yams, peppers, mushrooms and cashew-almond hollandaise. For lunch, warm up with an Asian-inspired soup of house-made miso-mushroom broth with flat rice noodles, Mayan chilli braised jackfruit and revolving veggies, served with a side of fresh herbs, lime, scallion relish, hoisin and sambal. The Mushroom Pecan Burger consists of a delicious house-made patty on a ciabatta bun with cashew scallion crème.

Himalayan Spice Bistro is an excellent choice for vegans given its vegan owner. Start with Vegetable Samosas, Aloo Tikki (spicy potato patties), Onion Bhajis, or Pakoras. For mains, enjoy Baigan Bharta (roasted mashed eggplant), Dal Tadka (yellow split lentils with cumin, garlic, fresh tomatoes and aromatic spices), or several other options. The warm and doughy Garlic Naan or Allo Paratha (stuffed with spiced potatoes and herbs) are delicious bread accompaniments. For a complete list of all vegan options, see the restaurant’s full menu that is helpfully labelled.

Other great options for local vegan fare include Freshies Café with rotating vegan baked goods, Lunchbox for falafel and marinated-tofu wraps, and Fernie Distillers where a vegan alternative is used in cocktails that usually call for egg whites. At The Curry Bowl, you’ll find fresh Summer Rolls, Curried Lentil Dip, and Veggie Donburi with tofu steaks and piquant peanut sauce. Elk Valley Pizza and Not Just Pizza offer dairy-free cheese and don’t forget the classic A&W where the Beyond Beef burger is now available.

Fernie’s restaurants make it possible to avoid animal products when dining out while satisfying your inner foodie. From sushi to burgers, chocolate desserts to tacos, and hollandaise-smothered brunch, vegan restaurant-going has moved far beyond the garden salad.

If you’d like to connect with the local vegan community, join “Fernie Vegan Potluck” on Facebook.