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Vegetarian Options Improving for the Meatless Many

I’ve found over the years that people who describe themselves as vegetarian aren’t always. I’ve also found that people who follow -- or attempt to follow -- a vegetarian diet do so for one of two reasons. 

Some choose to be meatless for health reasons. Animal based protein tends to be higher in cholesterol, and hormones and steroids used to raise the animals to slaughter age may also be cited as reasons to eschew meat. But it often comes out in conversation that someone who identifies as a vegetarian will admit to eating seafood or even chicken, keeping a distance only from red meats. 

Then you’ve got your ovo-lacto vegetarians, who do not eat even seafood but will partake of eggs, milk and other dairy products.

Other vegetarians follow the regimen for humanitarian reasons, choosing not to eat meat because they consider it cruel to do so. I actually know people who claim to be humanitarian vegetarians who still eat seafood, which I find curious. But I don’t judge. 

Strict vegetarians are the ones who say they won’t eat anything that has a face. Or used to.

 

Vegans take vegetarianism to a higher level and swear off any kind of animal product whatsoever, including eggs, milk, cheese and even honey, which few people think of as an animal product. But bees are animals, too.

Whatever one’s reason for keeping vegetarian or vegan, more options for dining out are available than in the recent past.

In fact, it’s rare to find a restaurant these days, even a steakhouse, that doesn’t offer at least one option for the vegetarian at the table. Granted, that option can sometimes be a literal translation of the term and be nothing more than a plate of vegetables, but at least they’re making an effort. Pasta dishes are also a stand-by option that many restaurants will offer as a go-to vegetarian option, but these are not always completely animal product free, especially when eggs are used in the noodles and cream or stock in the sauces. 

One restaurant that does well with offering meat, vegetarian and vegan options is Anatolia, a Turkish and Lebanese restaurant on Sand Lake Road.

To be completely sure you’re getting the best vegetarian options, choose a vegetarian restaurant. Indian restaurants are good options for all vegetarian, and even Indian restaurants that serve lamb and chicken tend to have a better sensibility for real meatless dishes.

But we have some very good all vegetarian Indian restaurants in the area, including Woodlands and Bombay Cafe, both on South Orange Blossom Trail. 

For vegan options, consider Ethos Vegan Kitchen in the Ivanhoe Row area north of downtown, and Dandelion Communitea Cafe in the Mills50 district.

And then there’s Cafe 118, a raw food restaurant. If veganism can be seen as extreme vegetarianism, raw food might be considered extreme veganism. That’s because not only is everything on the menu at this Winter Park restaurant totally animal product free, nothing has been rendered over 118 degrees and so is technically raw. Proponents of raw foodism contend that cooking food removes many of the plant’s nutrients.

But before any of you out there reading this while nibbling on a piece of bacon start to feel sorry for veggies and vegans, you should know that some of this food is pretty darned tasty, and I would wager that some dishes could be placed in front of a confirmed carnivore who would swear there was meat in the dish. I’m not talking about trying to replicate the taste and texture of meat, although some vegetarian restaurants do just that with processed tofu and other products. I think that’s just odd. But really good vegetarian restaurants have a creativity to make the ingredients available to them taste wonderful.

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Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

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