For roughly the past two months, I’ve set out into unknown territory. Uncharted waters. The last frontier.
That’s right. No meat. No eggs. No dairy.
It was a wild choice for me, considering my incredibly deep love of cheese and ranch dressing.
The idea to go vegan was actually inspired by my mom’s own plant-based journey. First, I thought she was off her rocker but once she starting raving about the benefits (weight loss, more energy, etc.) I was convinced to try it.
The whole not supporting animals being killed was also a plus. I consulted with my doctor and she told me to go for it.
Since then, I’ve been busy trying out all the vegan cuisine that Charlotte has to offer.
Here’s a round-up of the best dishes I’ve found so far. Trust me, you won’t even miss the meat.
The ‘Living Bagel’ from Living Kitchen
Dish details: A savory raw bagel topped with cashew sour cream, tomato, onion, micro cilantro, avocado and sprouts.
Why I love it: I’ll be honest, a big hesitancy of my new vegan lifestyle was giving up cream cheese. This bagel is just as tasty and I love the added freshness of all the veggies on top.
Pro tip: Opt for jalapenõs on top for a little added spice.
The Vegan Burrito from The People’s Market
Dish details: Vegan sausage, black bean, corn and pepper relish, guacamole, crispy tortilla strips, pico de gallo and rice in a wheat tortilla with chipotle salsa on the side.
Why I love it: Meat or no meat this is simply one of the best burritos I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t even know what else to say. I’m still thinking about it.
The Mushroom Gyro from Fern, Flavors from the Garden
Dish details: Gyro spiced and seared mushrooms, bibb lettuce, tomato, onion, herbed yogurt (dairy-free) and za’atar on a pita. Served with the choice of a side.
Why I love it: I could eat Mediterranean food every day and this gyro is up there with the best. Most importantly, it helped me get my tzatziki fix without the dairy. I ordered the miso mustard brussel sprouts on the side and finished everything on my plate.
Pro tip: Not a mushroom fan? Order the Lolla Rossa Salad. My mom got this and it was insanely good. It’s topped with coconut “bacon” and dairy-free buttermilk dill ranch. Praise be.
CM ‘Chickenless’ Salad from Common Market
Dish details: Their vegan ‘chickenless’ salad with lettuce and tomato served on the bread of your choice. I opted for the spinach herb wrap.
Why I love it: This really tastes like chicken salad and, given my love for mayonnaise-based foods, this was a pleasant surprise. I don’t know exactly what it’s made with and I don’t care. Order this.
The Quinoa Stuffed Avocado from Kid Cashew
Dish details: Tri-color quinoa, cucumber salsa, shredded lettuce and chipotle sauce served in an avocado.
Cost: $3.95/half or $7.75/whole
Why I love it: This dish is fresh, filling and the chipotle sauce on top has amazing flavor. I ordered it along with the ‘Butterless Brussel Sprouts’ (caramelized and topped with lemon vinaigrette and almonds), which were a huge hit at the table.
Pro tip: Go on Thursdays for $6 cocktails. The ‘Goat’s Breastmilk’ is my absolute favorite and, despite the name, there’s actually no dairy in it.
Pesto pizza from Pure Pizza
Dish details: Tomatoes, onions, basil and pesto. I opted no vegan cheese because it still weirds me out but they do offer it.
Cost: $10 for a 10″
Why I love it: Y’all. I never thought I would love a pizza without cheese but damn. I devoured this entire thing. The pesto was so delicious and ingredients so fresh that I didn’t even miss the cheese.
The Crispy Tofu Bowl from Hi Tide Poke and Raw Bar
Dish details: Crispy tofu, cucumber, tomato, edamame, green onion, carrots, corn, red cabbage, avocado and kale salad. Top it with some sweet soy reduction.
Why I love it: I seriously crave this about once a week. The BEST TOFU I’ve ever had. Even if I ate meat, I’d still opt for this bowl. My boyfriend took a bite and wished he’d ordered it. Even with all the veggies it’s still really filling.
Pro tip: Ask for their free infused water. It’s usually got some kind of herbs, cucumber and lemon and it’s refreshing as hell.
Spicy Hummus Veggie Panini from Sunflour Baking Company
Dish details: Spicy garlic hummus, red onion, red pepper, tomato, spinach served on the bread of your choice.
Why I love it: It’s warm. It’s a little spicy. It’s the perfect comfort food. Order with a side of soup for the ultimate fall meal.
Pro tip: Top off your meal with a vegan zucchini brownie topped with vegan chocolate ganache ($4.25).
Frosé Sorbet from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Dish details: Sorbet with natural ingredients like pears, strawberries and, of course, rosé wine. No dairy ingredients.
Cost: $4.75 for a single scoop
Why I love it: I love rosé and I love ice cream. It’s flavorful, fruity and I don’t have to feel left out on trips to Jeni’s.