Going vegan, a healthy menu of Westport choices
Published 4:40 am, Thursday, April 23, 2015
A little over a month ago, I decided to adopt a vegan diet. I tend to cook and eat the same things again and again, and while I love vegetables, I was roasting Brussels sprouts and steaming broccoli nightly. I could fill my grocery cart almost without thinking. A great way to challenge my old habits and adopt new ones, I thought, would be to consume an entirely plant-based diet.
Mornings would be my greatest challenge. I am both inefficient and intolerable without caffeine and enjoy my coffee with a generous splash of milk. I reluctantly replaced my carton of milk with almond milk and am almost satisfied. (I also bought a nut milk bag to strain my own blender-pulverized almonds, but that's another, messier story.)
At home, preparing and enjoying a vegetable-based diet has been easy and pleasant. I have read new recipe books and blogs. I treated myself to cartons of berries and platters of roasted vegetables and experimented with unfamiliar grains and seeds. But I was worried about what would happen when I wanted to go out to dinner or lunch. I love sharing meals with friends and didn't want to consume the rest of my meals at home at my kitchen table.
I needn't have been concerned. My go-to restaurant lunch has become Bartaco's delicious cauliflower tacos. I am pretty serious about tacos and these are incredible. (Margaritas are vegan too.) The guacamole is lovely and they'll bring you veggies to dip in it.
Kawa Ni in Bridge Square is an Izakaya-inspired restaurant and has recently become one of my favorites. The mushroom dashi is a ramen dish that is rich and complex. I get full before the noodles are gone, but don't want to miss a bite.
Southport's Coromandel has many wonderful vegan dishes and they deliver. I have happily warmed a container of left-over Chole Peshwari (chickpeas and potatoes) for many last-minute lunches.
The tiny and heavenly Le Farm will happily accommodate diners on a vegan diet. They suggest that you call ahead to let chef Arik Bensimon choose fresh ingredients.
In Bridgeport, Bloodroot, a feminist bookstore and restaurant, has been serving customers for 30 years. Its anniversary balloons and streamers were still hung on the rainy afternoon I visited. They have a weaving loom in the back and a large selection of plant-based menu items.
Whole Foods' salad bar has been a good place to grab a quick bite and I took my daughter to Chipotle, where I stuffed myself on a salad with black beans and roasted vegetables.
I have been inspired to try many new recipes and experimented in the kitchen and have enjoyed exploring the menus of local restaurants to find vegan options. I'm trying to remember to pack a little snack for myself when I am going to be out all day. I know that it's not easy for restaurants to accommodate all of the special diets and I don't want to be a hassle. On Sunday, I was at a meeting at Yale that included boxed lunches. When the meal was served, about half of the participants went to the table to select a lunch box and the other half lined up in front of the caterer to find out what they could eat.