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By Andria Caputo April 11, 2012

Healthy Eating in Montreal

Illustrated by SARA HUM


The most common misconception about “eating healthy” is that all healthy food is expensive and tasteless. I beg to differ. Montreal is booming with quaint and charming restaurants that offer alternative healthy eating options at an affordable price without sacrificing taste and gusto. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or a hamburger lover, this fabulous city offers plenty of vegan and vegetarian options to satisfy the palates of those who want to think outside their plates.

Known as the “vegan Mecca” of Montreal, Aux Vivres, on St-Laurent, offers a varied and delicious vegan menu. They offer a great selection of affordable entrees, including the vegépaté and their home-style chili (to die for). They also boast a great selection of organic teas, freshly prepared juices and smoothies, as well as fair-trade coffee. Known primarily for their amazingly delicious vegan BLT, the “B” standing for coconut bacon, and their many vegetable and rice bowls (my personal favorite being the Dragon Bowl), Aux Vivres never fails to deliver a flavorful and diverse menu. The restaurant is always clean and the service is always cordial and speedy, which makes it a perfect destination for a lunch time meal between classes or meetings. Aux Vivres offers brunch from 11 to 4 on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as special evening menus and take-out orders.

Popular with the crowd of students in Montreal’s Latin Quarter, Commensal is the perfect vegetarian cafeteria destination in Montreal. Boasting 3 locations on St-Denis, Mc Gill Avenue and in Laval, le Commensal offers an overwhelming variety of vegetarian foods like lasagna, an impressive variety of salads, vegépaté rolls and other amazing dishes. This restaurant is quite unique, since it allows restaurant goers to fill their plates with whatever they choose and pay only 13.95 at lunch and 16.94 for supper, provided that the total weight of your plate remains under 1kg. Commensal is an excellent option if you which to eat to your heart’s content. Commensal offers a catering service if you are ever interested in opting out for the foie gras and duck paté hors d’oeuvres and prefer a healthy vegetarian option for your dinner parties.

Crudessence is Montreal’s go to place for raw food lovers. They offer two restaurants, one on Rachel Street and the other on Mackey Street. Both restaurants have different menus, depending on their chefs. Say what you want about the “raw food movement”, but the success of Crudessence is undeniable. They use mainly seasonal products and food to make up their menu options so your environmental conscience can rest at ease. The offer sandwiches, salads, and various pasta dishes (all raw, obviously) and an impressive selection of delicious deserts like raw chocolates, brownies, tiramisu and baklava. Their price points are a bit steeper than restaurants like Aux Vivres and Commensal, but it is definitely an experience you do not want to miss.

For those who are affected by food allergies, eating out can be a game of luck; you’re never sure if certain restaurants will accommodate your needs and you almost always opt out of choosing delicious deserts because the ingredients are somewhat suspect. Luckily for you, there are restaurant owners and bakeries that understand your dilemma. Zero8, a resto-bar on St-Denis, offers a menu that is free of the most common 8 food allergens: fish and seafood, peanuts, nuts, sesame seeds, milk (dairy products in general), soy, eggs and wheat or any grain containing gluten. What’s left then, you might ask? Although the menu is quite limited, it is not lacking: there is a great selection of chicken, lamb and steak options; gluten free pasta, which tastes a lot better than it sounds, trust me; and a variety of sandwiches and appetizers. Vegetarians and vegans who wish to dine at Zero8 do not need to worry, since the restaurant offers various vegetarian and vegan dishes as well.

When it comes to delicious pastries and sweets Monkland’s Cho’Cola is “Montreal’s finest Nut & Peanut-free Bakeshop”. All of their pastries are homemade and made with real butter. They offer a great selection of cakes, chocolates, brownies and cupcakes (cupcake flavors vary from day to day). Price points for the pastries will vary (usually cupcakes range from $2.50 to $3.00) but specialty pastry shops are notorious for steep prices.

Healthy eating can be easy, fun and inexpensive if you know where to eat. Dawson’s own Student Union offers delicious free vegetarian lunches every Monday and Wednesday as of 12, if you are interested in taking a healthy step towards being more conscious about what you eat. Healthy eating does become an obstacle especially if you are a student on a tight budget and just happen to go to a school next to a mall with a huge food court.  A healthy mind in a healthy body may seem like timeworn cliché but there is a great amount of truth to it. We should all try, with a little bit more enthusiasm, to eat healthy, since it is the choices we make now that will undoubtedly affect and shape our future selves.

About the illustrator

Sara Hum is an illustrator who prefers the digital medium, but has gradually taken a liking to acrylic paint and ink.

Although she had entered the Illustration & Design program with the goal of becoming a concept artist, she now aspires to be a freelance artist.

She has done some freelance jobs ranging from book covers to tattoo designs and is heavily inspired by artists with dynamic styles such as Phil Hale, Mike Mignola, and Sean Gordon Murphy.


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    April 25, 2012

    Thank you for this article that gives good ideas of healthy - and responsible- eating! I went to the “Carrefour de la Réussite” 2 weeks ago and was surprise to find out that according to a survey done with over 9000 cégep students in Québec, 20% of students are experiencing food insecurity! I thought that number is huge! I guess that the DSU dinin really becomes a useful alternative for one student out of 5…
    I wonder what Dawson community thinks of the idea of having a community kitchen initiative in Dawson?

    Geneviève McCready
    Dawson Health Education Nurse

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    April 26, 2012

    This article does make me think twice about what I do eat. I do associate eating well as being expensive, but really there are inexpensive places which do offer a variety of healthy foods. Most of the restaurants mentioned in this article, I am not aware of. I will definitely attend one of these delicious restaurants some day. The Dawson Dining will be in my opinion, very favourable for students who are skeptical about trying new foods, and can try it here at Dawson for free. I believe that students that eat unhealthy foods might not know any better, or simply because they rather have the cheap, unhealthy fast food restaurants like McDonalds. People need to be more conscious of their food intake in order to maintain a healthy life-style.

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    April 29, 2012

    Thank you so much for the food advice! I’m a Montreal cegep student who, when hungry and not home, always opts for the simple, cheap, but unhealthy eateries. This choice has never failed to fill my stomach, but I never feel quite “pure” afterwards, if you know what I mean. I’m exited to force my friends to visit these places you suggest and spread the word. As a man once said: “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise”. Motivation is key! Also, I was wondering if you consider Cultures in Alexis Neon to be a healthy eating spot? It definitely isn’t the cheapest place on the market, but sure seems healthy to me!

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    April 30, 2012

    Lately I have become more health cautious, but I’ve also been noticing how difficult it can be to find restaurants that offer healthy food choices. Dawson is surrounded by fast food restaurants which makes it tempting to eat those unhealthy foods, but this article has made me aware of new restaurants that offer various healthy choices from meals to deserts. Another problem that a student like myself may face is not being able to find places that offer healthy food, while also being inexpensive. This is what might lead people to eat fast food due to its cheap cost. This article was insightful also because it showed different menus of restaurants that are free of the most common 8 food allergens.

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    April 30, 2012

    Ever since the year of 2011, I have made the decision to quit eating foods that are risky to my health. Taking this decision was very hard due to the fact that it would now be very hard to find restaurants that do not offer “junk food”. The perfect example for this is school, Dawson is fenced with fast food restaurants, Kojax, McDonalds, Tim Horton, etc., and this makes it very hard. Students that eat unhealthy foods like the previous restaurants mentioned might not know any better, or they simply eat at these restaurants because these fast food restaurants offer prices that are affordable for the budget of a student. I really enjoyed this article because it gave me the chance to discover that there are extremely healthy restaurants in the city of Montreal that offer healthy meals along with desserts. In order to be healthy, people need to take their eating habits more seriously and make better choices.

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    May 1, 2012

    I realize how hard it is to make healthy choices around dawson. Anything that is fast and inexpensive are junk foods. I’ve always tried to make healthier choices in food and focus on staying healthy in general, excersice, sleep…But whenever you need to grab something to eat fast, because you have a class in 15 minutes is hard because there really arent much healthy restaurant near dawson. I liked this article a lot because it permitted me to discover new restaurants in Montreal i didnt know about. Being healthy really makes a difference in my life, I feel better with myself and have a lot more energie, totally worth it! It is an important choice in life people need to make.

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    May 10, 2012

    Actually, I just went to see Crudessence website and you can go see videos: http://www.crudessence.com/fr/medias/videos/

    I’m going tomorrow! My friend’s sisters are working on the one on Rachel Street

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    June 14, 2013

    I truly agree to the fact that it’s very difficult to find the healthy food at an affordable price. Even paying high cost for a food, could not buy the taste in such foods. Montreal is one the best restaurant providing taste and healthy food, to satisfy their costumers needs and demands.
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