If you’re a vegetarian—or dine with someone who is—options for meat-free eating can be bleak in many restaurants. It’s even harder to eat out if you’re a vegan who avoids cheese, dairy, eggs, and other animal-based ingredients.
It’s not necessarily that there’s nothing on the menu—although in some places, you’re confined to potatoes and salads. Too often the options—or sometimes the single option—are limited to whatever sides the restaurant uses for its meat entrees (“the set,” chefs call them), or simply pasta with tomato sauce.
Maybe you find a promising-looking soup or entrée that, it turns out, is made with meat stock or flavored with an animal byproduct like fish sauce.
But don’t despair. There are places out there that offer multiple choices for meatless munching. You just need to know where to look.
In greater Birmingham, a growing number of new restaurants and food trucks cater to diners who have eliminated or are reducing the meat in their diet for health or personal reasons.
And don’t overlook cuisine from countries like China, India, and Ethiopia where vegetarian options on menus are as numerous as non-vegetarian. Restaurants serving Italian and Tex-Mex dishes also have vegetarian options, but they’re more limited.
Here is a guide to seven places in greater Birmingham where veggies and vegetable-based proteins play starring roles on the menu.