By Michelle Berry.
It started like any other New Year’s Resolution, except it was a 30-day challenge inspired by the documentary Forks over Knives that touts the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. For the record, this was not my idea. My husband–who fell asleep 10 minutes into the movie–thought this plant-based diet would be a great way to ring in the New Year. (This guy loves challenges.) Having watched the documentary in its entirety, I was very concerned and tried to talk him out of it. Me: “You’re joking, right? 30 days is a long time. We’re gonna starve.” Chris: “Come on, it’s only 30 days,” he said with the enthusiasm of every resolutionist (not a word, but it should be) on January 1st. It was the dawn of 2016 and my research on veganism began immediately and in earnest. At first, it was all about how not to starve and how not to lose our minds for the next 30 days. Chris relied on me to clue him in on our dietary restrictions. “Can I eat this?” he said, holding a yogurt.
After two weeks, I fell down a rabbit hole of learning where food comes from, how it gets processed, how it affects our health, and how it affects the health of our environment. Chris waved the white flag and went back to eating his normal diet. My brain, my heart, my stomach, my cells, even my blood all understood things differently now—turning back was not an option for me. My heart couldn’t—and it still can’t—unsee those images of factory farms. I began looking into the eyes of every cow in a field or fish in a tank with deep compassion.
So, several years later, here’s a new food challenge: finding a restaurant on the South Shore to enjoy a savory vegan entree and a cocktail with my surf-and-turf-loving family.
Even though 99.9% of us aren’t vegan and are getting twitchy just at the thought, many of us do want to add some mouth-watering, non-traditional plant-based foods to our diet. Recent research conducted by OnePoll for the non-dairy food producer So Delicious Dairy Free found that 1 in 3 American consumers eat at least one plant-based meal a day, averaging four per week. The study also found that 52% of Americans are exchanging meat for plant-based ingredients daily and are open to the idea of vegan food.
Plant-based (vegan) meals do not include meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy. If you’re a carnivore and still with me—first, I’m encouraged. Second, you’re probably thinking, “Ugh, eating salads and vegetables all the time—boring.” I had the same thoughts until I did a quick Internet search. It turns out that there are many delicious and magical ways to flavor and prepare fruits, veggies, grains, and nuts. Thanks to a growing community of plant-based food bloggers, I’m continually excited to discover and try new recipes.
Many restaurants still don’t feature vegan entrees, but change is coming. A handful of local eating establishments, sparked by a growing demand for healthier choices, have taken this progressive, mindful step forward. Here are a few local restaurants, and their tasty plant-based entrees, I’ve recently found in my travels. (If you know of more, please share!)
Lettuce Wraps ~ crispy tofu, jasmine rice, stir fry vegetables, Thai peanut sauce, soy glaze
Vegetable Stir Fry ~ jasmine rice, mango salsa, broccolini, julienne-cut zucchini, summer squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, lo mein noodles, water chestnuts, Thai peanut sauce, ponzu.
160 Colony Place
Plymouth, MA 02360
Wild Mushroom Risotto with peas and lemon sauce
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl ~ roasted cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potato, julienne vegetables, quinoa, pepitas, golden raisins
Black Bean Tostada ~ crispy tortillas, black bean patty, pickled cabbage slaw, guacamole, grilled corn, tomato-jalapeno relish, Baja sauce, fresh cilantro
94 Derby Street
Hingham, MA 02043
A farm-to-Table restaurant that focuses on fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients. They even have a Plant Based section on their menu!
Tofu Scramble Banh Mi: tofu scramble, pickled carrot, parsley slaw, gochugaru aioli, ciabatta. vegetarian
My Millie’s Tacos: two grilled corn tortillas, al pastor veggie sausage crumble, sauteed seasonal veggies, avocado, braised chickpeas, cilantro garlic America grains, seasonal salsa. vegan
122 Main Street
North Easton MA
110 Grill features modern American cuisine in a trendy, casual atmosphere.
Vegetarian Stir Fry ~ sautéed linguini noodles tossed in hoisin teriyaki with broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and red peppers
Pasta Primavera ~ broccoli, mushrooms, green and red peppers, tossed with cavatappi pasta
Grill 110 (Three locations in SE MA)
170 Forbes Road
Braintree, MA 02184
53-1 Commerce Way Plaza
Plymouth, MA 02360
560 William S. Canning Boulevard
Fall River, MA 02721
SALT Raw Bar
A scratch kitchen focused on seasonal, local, and sustainably sourced ingredients. The chef is married to a vegan so don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions.
Fried Moroccan Cauliflower ~ Golden raisins, ras el hanout and pistachios
Tofu & Vegetable Ramen ~ chili and garlic broth, Napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, scallion, seasonal vegetables
Salt Raw Bar & Fine Cuisine
170 Water Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Want more? Start asking your local restaurants for more plant-based options.
Mention a great plant-based meal you had at another restaurant and help inspire change.
If you are strictly vegan, be sure to let the kitchen know, as some of these meals are offered with dairy.
Note: Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, and Mexican restaurants are usually vegan-friendly.
Search www.happycow.net for additional vegan restaurants, markets, and B&B retreats.
Michelle Berry lives in Pembroke with her husband, two sons, and a boxer. As the only vegan eater among family and friends, she enjoys introducing plant-based recipes to her community. She also loves teaching yoga. (You saw that coming, right? Namaste.)
We add to this list as we discover more delicious options. Please list your suggestions in the comments below.