Living Vegan in Newfoundland and Labrador

Ryan Patey on Signal Hill in St. John's, NL

Given all the travelling I’ve been doing, you would think this site would be filled with posts about vegan food in cities all over the place. However, between house sitting, hopping around, and working on the next issue, I often find it hard to sit down and just summarize this or that place.

Plus, with my tight budget, I rarely feel like I’ve covered the options available in any certain spot before it’s time to leave. So, I never think that my post will do a place justice, especially if it really just involved a lot of meals made at home with the occasional pizza delivery.

Add in the disinterest in acting like an authority on a place that I don’t call home, and you end up with a lack of posts. That being said, I do think there’s a balance to be struck somehow, and I’m going to try and find it over the next little while. Hopefully.

With that in mind, I figure starting with a place I do actually call home is the best bet: Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

My Small Corner of the World

Although I wasn’t born in the province, my family moved back to NL from Alberta just a few years after I was born. Thus, my childhood and the majority of my teenage years were spent growing up in the farthest easterly province in Canada. It wasn’t until I moved away to Halifax, Nova Scotia soon after graduating high school that I really begin to explore outside of the province.

Of course, that’s a different story, and you’re here to learn about what it’s like being vegan in NL, aren’t you?

Since I wasn’t vegan growing up (shocking, I know), I guess my experience of being vegan on the eastern tip of North America began when I came back from Halifax at some point and had made the decision to no longer eat animal products. As you can imagine, that first trip back went down a path I’m sure is familiar to most of you.

Questions. Jokes. Poor food options. More jokes. Lots more questions. Airport.

Sure, it wasn’t terrible, and having a fairly supportive family certainly made it easier, but it was bad compared to how things were during my time there earlier this summer. That trip could be summed up as such:

Food. Food. More food. Questions. Food. Talking about food. Food. VegFest. Food. Airport.

Without going into too much detail about my own life (perhaps I already have), here are some of the highlights that my home offers for those of us who partake in neither the meat nor the breast milk nor the ovum of any creature with a face.

St. John’s

Unless you take the ferry to the island, it’s likely you’ll end up in St. John’s first. Regardless of how you get there, please do yourself a favour and be sure to see more of the island than just its capital. I’m not just saying this due to a lifelong Town vs. The Bay mentality that most residents of the island hold against each other depending on what side of the overpass they reside on. In fact, on a beautiful day (even if they’re rare), St. John’s is probably one of my favourite places in the world. However, if you read this whole post, I think you’ll understand just why I suggest going beyond the old streets of downtown and heading into the less populated parts of the province.

Of course, no matter how long you plan to spend in St. John’s, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Below are just a few of the ones that I make an effort to visit whenever I’m back home.

Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca

377 Duckworth Street & 60 Elizabeth Avenue | w:

Ever since the first Piatto opened downtown (they now have numerous locations around Atlantic Canada, including two in St. John’s), I’ve happily visited them many times. In the past, they’ve even been willing to add Daiya to my order, if I brought it in. However, given their commitment to the strict Neapolitan pizza regulations, I recommend you simply go the cheeseless route and try the Greca pizza, as well as the Focaccia alla Napoletana (again, minus the cheese).



The Afghan Restaurant

375 Duckworth St | W:

Despite the increase in restaurants that cater to vegans in the city, one of my favourite spots remains this little business situated just above an entrance to George Street and a door or two away from Piatto’s downtown location. If you can get past the painting and description of Buzkashi on one of the walls, then you’re in for one of the more interesting meals in St. John’s. Far from fine dining, the restaurant reminds me of plenty of other places I’ve eaten while in Central America or SE Asia, and that’s a good thing in my books. Add to that the fact that it’s run by a family of at least two generations, and the menu sticks to the basics that they do well, and I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!


Peaceful Loft

250 Duckworth St

A relatively new addition to the St. John’s food scene (at least in my books), this place offers a nearly 100% vegan menu with plenty of options. Along with that, the staff and owners are incredibly nice, and you’re likely to end up with tea and maybe even some things to sample before you place your order. That’s a good thing since they have a pretty big menu, and I had a hard time choosing when I was there!


Kimchi and Sushi

140 Water St #102 | fb: kimchiandsushiwaterstreet

When I returned from working in South Korea, I never thought I would be able to eat bibimbap back home. After a few mediocre sushi experiences, I had also started to give up on even getting sushi. Luckily, Kimchi and Sushi appeared in the Atlantic Place food court, and solved both of my problems. Since starting in a quasi-mall, they have now moved to their own location within the TD building, which is just down the street. Along with friendly service, they also have vegan items, or at least those that can be made vegan, marked on their menu. Given how rare that word was when I first went vegan and visited the province, it was great to see it when I visited them this past summer!


Honourable Mentions

Although I could go on with a number of other places that I like in the city, I’ll wrap this part up with some pictures and just a few other places that one should check out while exploring one of the oldest cities in North America.

  • Muhammed Ali’s – falafel and samosas. Need I say more?
  • St. John’s Farmers’ Market – produce, occasional vegan baked goods and waffles, and vegan-friendly meal options
  • City Light Buffet – Chinese food with vegan chicken options

Vegan waffle from St. John's Farmers' MarketOne of the vegan-friendly meal selections from St. John's Farmers' Market

Chinese food from City Light Buffet

Vegan donuts from St. John's Farmers' MarketFalafel from Mohamed Ali's in St. John's

Finally, some folks who are familiar with St. John’s may have noticed that I omitted The Sprout. Although this vegetarian restaurant has been serving the people of St. John’s since before I went vegan, the truth is that I’ve avoided the place for years due to a bad interaction on Facebook with one of the staff (or possibly a owner) over the use of non-vegan margarine and a lack of mentioning that when customers clearly ordered a vegan breakfast, etc. Since I was never a big fan of their menu, I opted to spend my money in other places ever since. That being said, I believe the business is now under new ownership, and I intend to visit them the next time I’m home.

More Suggestions

Since I haven’t lived in St. John’s for years, and my visits are infrequent, there are certainly locals that can offer plenty more places to check out, and I recommend you reach out to them! One of the best spots to do so would be the NL Vegans Facebook group, which even includes a link to a map of all the vegan options around the province!

If you’re wondering when you should plan a trip to the island, along with simply suggesting in the summer (seriously, a Newfoundland winter is not the most idyllic vacation scenario), I recommend you keep an eye on the St. John’s VegFest website for the date of the next festival. For details on what it was like to be a part of the first one, you can check out my previous post about it here.

Bonavista Peninsula

Given that my parents sold their house and moved to Thorburn Lake full-time a number of years ago, I can’t speak much for the options available in my home town of Clarenville. However, I do recall that the pizza dough at Donnini’s and (possibly) Pizza Delight was vegan, so there’s at least the no cheese option at those places. Otherwise, since my folks still rely on the grocery stores within this town, I can say that some basic vegan options are available at the Sobey’s. In fact, if you’re lucky, you may even find some of the frozen veggie chicken options at the local No Frills. Maybe.

As for other parts of the Bonavista Peninsula, I previously wrote about a trip we took to explore this area, so I won’t go into detail about it here. However, I will say it involved tempeh and cupcakes, which was all I need! If you’re interested, you can find that post here.

Thorburn Lake

From a tourism perspective, Thorburn Lake isn’t exactly a hot spot on the island map. Unless you’re one of the numerous cabin owners around the area, there are no major services or attractions to bring you there. However, if you happen to know my family, it can be one of the better vegan options on the island! Over the years, my parents have become accustomed to my choice to be vegan, and since my mother figured out vegan baking, my visits there have always involved more food than one vegan can handle! I tried to convince her to sell things at the VegFest, but she didn’t think I was serious. There’s always next year though!

Vegan rhubarb pieVegan chocolate pie





Central Newfoundland

Like most parts of Canada, the further away you travel from the bigger centres, the less likely you are to find vegan meals, and the more likely you are to be eating French fries or whatever snacks you brought with you. In my case, I relied on peanut butter and banana, but still ended up with a large dose of deep fried potato during the week or so that my family spent in both Central and Western Newfoundland this summer.

Despite lacking in the goodies that St. John’s offer, Central Newfoundland makes up for it in hospitality and general beauty. Although I’ve spent plenty of time in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, and a few other places, my most recent trip back home involved an adventure to Fogo Island, which is somewhere I had never been before. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.

Just be sure to pack some solid meal options.

The town of Fogo

Docking at Fogo IslandPeanut butter and banana sandwich with seagull in background

Brimstone Head on Fogo Island

Panoramic of the Fogo Island Inn

If you do head to Fogo Island, be sure to check out Brimstone Head, which is considered to be one of the four corners of the earth according to the Flat Earth Society. Depending on your timing, you might even be able to check out the Brimstone Head Folk Festival. Along with that, if your wallet can handle it (mine couldn’t), it might be worth the trip to Joe Batt’s Arm (yes, that’s a town name) to dine at the Fogo Island Inn. It’s an interesting addition to the small island’s landscape that promotes local food and caters to both celebrities and those around the community. Chances are, they might be able to serve up a great vegan meal!

Western Newfoundland

As I mentioned above, the vegan options in restaurants really thin out after you leave St. John’s, but it’s always possible to find an interesting gem here or there! If you poke around the NL Vegans Facebook group I mentioned above, there are folks from both Central and Western Newfoundland that could probably guide you in the right direction as you explore everything the province has to offer outside of its capital.

If you do venture to the west, or perhaps take the NL ferry to the island and dock in Port-Aux-Basque, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to stop to take a picture of something. From the mountains near Corner Brook to the stark beauty of Gros Morne National Park, it’s worth eating sandwiches and nuts for a few days!

Gros Morne National Park

Peanut butter and banana sandwich prepFlowers in Gros Morne National Park

Arches Provincial Park

Northern Newfoundland and Labrador

Outside of a family reunion in Port Saunders, which may not even qualify as Northern Newfoundland, I have yet to travel up the coast to either the top of Newfoundland or any part of Labrador. However, I would love to do both at some point. Although I suspect Labrador can be quite rugged in places, it’s that aspect that draws me to it. Sure, one would most likely need to bring along a lot of food, but that’s part of the adventure. If I did it for Churchill, Manitoba, then I’m sure I can do it for my home province!

Plan Your Adventure

Hopefully, nothing in this post has discouraged you from considering visiting Newfoundland and Labrador. If anything, I’m aiming for the opposite of that. As anyone who has talked about the province with me knows, I’m a big promoter of people going there to visit. Sure, I chose to leave and don’t really see myself going back permanently, but the fact that I grew up there is a part of why I am the way I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. If you can experience just a piece of that, perhaps while enjoying a decent vegan meal, then I did my job.

With that in mind, if you have any questions about being vegan in Newfoundland and Labrador, please get in touch through a comment below or the Contact page. I’ll gladly help however I can.

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