Yes, there’s vegan food at the CNE in Toronto!
Updated: August 2019. Every year, there are more wacky foods and wild meals to eat at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. Generally, these are bizarre foods made from animal products and unhealthy, deep fried dishes. There’s a burger with ramen noodles substituting as the bun. There’s even a place called the Bug Bistro where every dish features crickets as the main delicacy. Uhmmm…I’ll pass! It’s easy to come to the conclusion that at an exhibition like this, vegan meals aren’t an option. Did you know that there are lots of vegan food options at the CNE? The choices are growing every single year that we visit, looking for the best CNE food that’s vegan.
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Back when I wrote this in 2016, there were quite a few vegan options among all the typical CNE food. Nowadays in 2019, there are even more options. While you’ll find snack food scattered throughout the midway (mostly fruit juices, slushies, fries, potato chips), you will find most of these meals inside the main food building. Let’s go to the Ex…and eat vegan food!
Vegan and Vegetarian Stalls
These are the exclusively vegan and vegetarian places at the CNE. A few years ago, there was a stand called Wild Child’s Kitchen that no longer exists at The Ex. Hopefully they’ll make a comeback in the future.
Bub’s Beyond Burgers: Vegan CNE Food
When I attended the CNE this year, I was under the assumption that all of the food at Bub’s Beyond Burgers was 100% vegan. Alas, after doing some further research, I discovered that the Buffalo cauliflower wings are not vegan, but vegetarian. However, you can order the Beyond Meat burgers and the fries from this stand. Unfortunately, we ate the cauliflower wings thinking that they were vegan – it’s been the first time in a while that has happened!
CNE Food: Pizza with Vegan Options
While you won’t have any issues finding cheese pizza with vegetables as a vegetarian choice, you might be seeking pizza at the CNE that’s vegan. Fear not, Mamma’s Pizza to the rescue!
Mamma’s Pizza is the only pizza place at the CNE that advertises their vegan pizzas. They have them available by the slice or you can order an entire pizza. They use Daiya brand vegan cheese, which stretches and melts. Tip: If you want pizza, be sure to go there earlier in the day. When we inquired about the vegan pizza around 8:00pm, they were completely sold out. I guess it’s a good thing that the vegan pizza is so popular.
Indian Food at the CNE
There used to be a stand called Kala’s Kitchen that was entirely vegetarian and vegan. Sadly, it’s no longer at the CNE. But, there are lots of other Indian food stands that have veggie choices. Namely, there are two: Avsar and Taste of Indian Cuisine.
Pitas, Falafel, and Middle Eastern CNE Food
There are a lot of places in the main food building serving falafel and vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine. Of course, you can never have too much of a good thing. They all offer falafel in a pita or as a plate with other veggies and salads. Be sure to inquire about the sauces ahead of time. Most of them just use tahini as a dressing.
Quick Pita Authentic Lebanese Cuisine
Quick Pita Authentic Lebanese Cuisine has a falafel veggie sandwich that looks to be vegan. There are also veggie stuffed grape leaves.
Unfortunately, this Pita Pit didn’t have the spicy black bean patty like their main store locations. However, there is a falafel pita and a hummus pita that are vegan.
Mexican Food at the CNE
Mexican food is always easy to make vegan: just fill it up with lots of beans, rice, veggies, guacamole and salsa. There are three Mexican food stands at The Ex: Taqueria Burrito Bar, Ponchos, and The Whole Enchilada Mexican Grill.
Taqueria Burrito Bar
If you’re going for a vegan burrito at Taqueria Burrito Bar, they’ll throw in some guacamole for no extra charge. You can fill your burrito up with beans, rice, and veggies, too. I’d also consider this to be a healthy option out of all the CNE food you can order that…well, isn’t the healthiest.
Veggie Burgers at the CNE
Looking for something besides the Beyond Burger? I realize it isn’t for everyone. I actually think that I like the Lick’s veggie burger better than the Beyond Meat burger anyway. There are a few places to find veggie burgers at the CNE.
Lick’s Home Burgers and Nature Burgers
The nature burger at Lick’s is right up there with some of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten. I’d definitely try this one out if you haven’t already. Even meat lovers adore this veggie burger.
Harvey’s Veggie Burgers
Harvey’s is such a Canadian institution when it comes to fast food. Their veggie burger was one of the first I ever tried and it remains one of my favorites to this day.
Vegan Dessert and Treats
I’ve got a major sweet tooth. When it comes to CNE food, they really go over the top with the sweets. Don’t worry, some of them also happen to be vegan, too. You can indulge just as much as all of your omnivore friends.
It’s a classic Canadian treat, and one of those unexpectedly vegan desserts. If you order the cinnamon sugar beavertail, ask for it without butter. It’s essentially fried dough with cinnamon sugar on top, and it’s delicious. Ever since I found out that you can order them vegan, I end up buying one every time. And even though Justin didn’t get one of his own, yet still ate half of mine, I’m totally cool with it. I don’t mind sharing!
Eva’s Original Chimneys
Excuse my old photo of when this was called “Chimney Stax” (or maybe it was owned by a different company?). Eva’s Original Chimneys always has loads of vegan options. We’re lucky enough to have one right down the street from our home in Port Credit. They have 12 different cones at the CNE and several of them can be made vegan. You’ll just have to request that they be made with the vegan ice cream. Eva’s has made it really easy for us by including a listing on their official website of what they’re bringing to various festivals around the GTA.
Tropic Love Smoothies
Tropic Love is outside on the midway near the rides and games. You might not consider this to be a ‘dessert’, but it’s a healthier fruity treat. You can drink a fresh fruit smoothie out of a hollowed out pineapple, watermelon, or coconut. Refreshing, tropical and delicious! Perfect on a hot, summer day. Some of the healthiest CNE food you’ll find.
Enjoying Our Day at the CNE
After eating some CNE food, we walked around for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We didn’t go on the Sky Ride this year, although usually we take it for a ride around sunset. It takes you through the air from one end of the festival to the other. There were lots of rides, games, and random street performers at one of the largest fairs of the summer.
There’s even a small sandy beach with Muskoka chairs and places for kids to build sand castles…in the middle of a Toronto parking lot.
In the Enercare building, there were so many things for sale with booths featuring products from all over the world. Although we weren’t there to do much shopping, it was very cool that some artistic works were displayed in the entrance. There were bears made out of moss, and huge sculptures made from sand. These photos are back from displays in 2016. They change every single year, so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.
Now, for anyone who knows me, you’ll know that I’m a little bit obsessed with playing the new Pokemon Go game (okay, this was “2016 me” writing. I still play the game from time to time, but I’m not nearly obsessed with it anymore). I was a little too old to get into Pokemon as a kid, but I’m all about this game now. I was really excited to see Pokemon toys hanging from the midway game stands. And I had to have one. So, Justin stepped up to the plate and promised that he’d win me a prize. Except these carnival games….well, some of them are pretty difficult to win. Some of them seem nearly impossible.
We played a few games with limited success…until we got to the game where you sprayed water at a target, racing against everyone else. And Justin kept winning that game over and over again. As the Pokemon toys were the most coveted prizes of all, we had to win multiple times to work our way up to that prize level. Thankfully, it was only a dollar to play. We didn’t spend that much money. And at the end of the day…I was pretty happy to have this little Pikachu toy to call my very own.
Where to Stay Near the CNE
Are you visiting from out of town and looking to spend the night? The Canadian National Exhibition is right near the Exhibition Go Station in Toronto. That makes it easy to get around the city: hop on the GO train and you can travel right into or out of Toronto.
If you’re looking for something swanky right near The Ex, check out the Hotel X by Library Hotel Collection. You will receive world class treatment with just about every amenity imaginable. This hotel is right on the Exhibition grounds, so you won’t have to travel far. Plus, the trendy Liberty Village neighborhood is right up the street for nightlife options. Read more reviews of one of Toronto’s top hotels.
For a more affordable option right in the city, check out the Grand Hotel and Suites. This hotel is in the middle of all the action and you can easily walk all over the city. While it’s not exactly a budget option, it’s a great price for a Toronto city center hotel with tons of modern amenities. Read more reviews of the Grand Hotel and Suites.
We go to the CNE every year in Toronto, and we never starve. There are so many vegan choices out of all the CNE food options, and I hope I’ve given you a few great suggestions to get you started. After all, you’ve gotta find some vegan food to eat before the huge Toronto Veg Food Fest on the second weekend of September!
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