Dining/ Restaurants

Top 5 Places to Take New Vegetarians

With the recent US and Canada premieres of the documentary Forks Over Knives, many of your non-veg friends are wanting you to take them to the best vegetarian restaurants. When someone is just transitioning to the veg diet, I think it’s important to take them to a restaurant that has something familiar to them. Do they live in the south and love comfort food? Take them somewhere that has vegan versions of chicken fried steak, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or chicken pot pie. Does your new veggie friend love barbecue? Find a place that offers faux meat dishes.

We polled our friends over at Facebook to see where they would take their new veg friends. Many said they would take them to a place that had vegan versions of things they were used to, some said they would take them to somewhere without the faux meat to highlight good old whole foods, and some said they would go to a regular restaurant to show them that being vegan isn’t hard and they can get nice meals wherever they go. I agree with all of these!!

Eating out is a special occasion and a chance to highlight the vegan and vegetarian restaurants in your town. If you don’t have any pure vegetarian places search HappyCow to find your vegan-friendly places and take your newly veg friends there. When eating out it’s important to visit these places rather than the restaurants you used to frequent. We want them to stay in business and your newly veg friends won’t be tempted to order something they used to eat before making the plunge.

Here are my top 5 places to take new vegetarians. These restaurants will never leave them deprived or thinking vegetarian food is just for hippies.

Veggie Grill
Many locations throughout Southern California

If not for the name and for spellings like “chickin” no one would ever know this was a vegan fast food joint. The is my #1 place to take carnivores, which makes it an ideal place to take transitioning vegetarians. The only problem you will have at Veggie Grill is choosing only one thing to eat. Most popular items are the All American Stack (featured above), a burger with veggie steak smothered in thousand island dressing and topped with onion rings; the Sweetheart Fries with Chipotle Ranch dipping sauce; and for our health-conscious friends the All Hail Kale salad. When polled, our readers chose Veggie Grill most!

Spiral Diner
1101 N Beckley Ave (at Zang)
Dallas, Texas 75203

The relaxed diner atmosphere, the huge mouth-watering menu, decadent desserts, and natural fountain sodas make Spiral Diner the ideal place to take any new vegetarian. Some HappyCow review favorites are the Jamaican Jerk Sandwich, which is a thick tempeh patty smothered in spicy sweet jerk sauce and top with pineapple; the Nachos, with a cashew-based cheese sauce everyone talks about; and the Cookies n’ Cream milkshake, which will be a nice finale to help wash everything down.

Cafe Green
1513 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036

Cafe Green has a lovely mix of raw, cooked, healthy and gluten-free menu options and was voted for a couple of times during my poll on where to take your newly veg friends. It’s on the healthy side of things but still offers some familiar items like Nachos Con Queso, Cheeseburger, and a Root Beer Float. If your new to vegan and are interested in trying raw/living foods as well this is the place.

Numerous locations across Toronto, Canada

This small chain in Toronto got a number of votes in our poll of where to take a new vegan. Fresh has a juice and smoothie bar, yummy starters like Quinoa-battered Onion Rings, beautiful array of salads, burgers and wraps for everyone, and the ever popular bowl. It has one of the most delicious and varied menus I’ve ever seen so Fresh will not disappoint any set of taste buds.

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
516 E 6th Street
New York City, New York 10009

When going vegan it’s good to know that you can get your sweet on, all while saving the animals and not clogging your arteries. The baking temptress and cookbook author, Kelly Peloza, gives Lula’s the thumbs up for their frozen treats, soft-serve and desserts. You don’t want to miss flavors like CakeBatter, OrangeCream, OatmealRaisinCookie and good old MintChip.

Besides showing your newly vegan friends the great restaurants in your town, be sure to take them to local events, outreach programs with Vegan Outreach, COK, or other local non-profits, social gatherings like Vegan Drinks, and vegan potlucks. Showing them that there is a blossoming community of like-minded individuals will help them feel that the vegan lifestyle is possible and fun!

So tell us, where would you take a new vegetarian and why?

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