You COULD go to the markets. They're everywhere. They're cheap. They're fresh. My friend and I got kilos upon kilos of fresh fruit and vegetables for under €10. Mix in a couple of baguettes from any boulangerie, and you're golden.
But I didn't come to Paris to eat HEALTHY (unlike that wrapped clementine from Marche Bastille in the photo above). Boy, if I wasn't going to seek out that vegan community and latch onto that g-o-O-O-o-d junk food...
Here are my recommendations so you don't have to sift through Happy Cow and/or Yelp, neither of which Parisians use.
The Vegan Lingo
Végétarien = vegetarien
Végétalien = vegan
Sans produits d'animaux = no animal products
Sans la viande, beurre, lait, fromage, oeufs = no meat, butter, milk, cheese, eggs
1. Hank Burger
The photo of my burger came out really blurry (like 4 pixels of deliciousness), so here's the upstairs dining area.
Where it is: 55 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France
What to get: La Catcheuse (€8 burger with vegan cheese, alfalfa, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles) and the fries (€3). Make sure to load up on the vegan mayo they have in dispensers.
A slice of chocolate hazelnut cheesecake with a chocolate ganache center.
Where it is: 53 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France
What to get: A slice of cheesecake (€6), but note that it tastes more like a really good almond/cashew cake rather than an exact "cheese" cake replica.
3. Las Vegans
Doner kebab and a chocolate speculoos donut.
Where it is: 30 Bd de Bonne Nouvelle, 75010 Paris, France
What to get: A kebab (€10) and any donut (~€3). The kebab is an enormous pita filled with a vegan street meat that could rival any 'real' one (seriously, considering I'm a pretty harsh critic of vegan meat and dairy substitutes).
That was of the best meals I've ever had, including vegan meat and cheese from Un Monde Vegan.
Where it is: 64 Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris, France
What to get: Anything your heart desires. Seriously, they have cases and cases full of vegan meats, cheeses, fish, chocolate, etc. of all prices. I ended up opting for VegiDeli cold cut slices (€2 per pack), MozzaRisella (€2 a log), Violife cheese (€3 a pack), and some obscure German brand of tortellini that was pizza-flavored.
On that table is the best tea I have ever put into my body on one of the many beautifully tiled tables.
Where it is: 39 Rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris, France
What to get: The tea (€2). I don't know what type of tea it was; I just remember it being good. Just order a couple for you and your friend, and talk for hours in what feels like a gated palace.
This place is a complex that includes a working mosque, this cafe, and a restaurant. I've also heard that if you make the right turns in in the hallways, you'll find a gorgeous courtyard with water, tile, and topiary art.
Eating vegan in Paris didn't feel like a drudgery of restriction. Rather, it introduced me to a very cool subculture of Paris, to people who "make it work" in a city where their lifestyle is in the supreme minority.
That's also the message I'd like to impart on anyone living a vegan lifestyle who decides to travel anywhere: just make it work. You don't have to find specifically vegan places to eat. Buy a baguette, get that kilo of spinach (lesson learned: that is a lot of spinach), or have a really long conversation over a couple cups of tea.
Adjust yourself to where you are rather than attempting to make the place work for YOU. Nothing should be so stressful when a city can manage to make their subway so pretty, right? (Beats pizza rat every time, in my opinion.)