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Meatless in March

By Anne Mitchell · March 2nd, 2011 · The Dish

Former President Clinton is a vegan. Does that surprise you? I mean, this is a guy who used to stop during jogs to get a Big Mac. Now he’s given up meat and dairy products and has reportedly lost 24 pounds. So clearly this vegan thing is gaining some momentum. It’s super healthy, animal friendly and makes you skinny. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s the obvious absence of tasty pork chops, but past that it takes a serious commitment to make or buy healthy, fresh food for every single meal. Peanut butter and jelly is going to get pretty old pretty quickly. For breakfast you can have a nice, yummy bowl of oatmeal (without milk, of course) with chopped pecans and fresh blueberries. For lunch, there’s always salad. My vegan friend eats salad at Ingredients (www.ingredientsforyou.com) at the Westin downtown almost daily, with toppings like tofu and sliced toasted almonds, plus loads of fresh vegetables.

If you’re in Clifton or Northside at lunchtime, you’re in luck. In Clifton, there are great vegan offerings at Om Café (www.aquariusstar.com) on Ludlow Avenue, including homemade hummus and tofu salad, while Myra’s Dionysus (www.myrasrestaurant.com) on Calhoun Street always has a vegan soup to warm you up (among other dishes). Melt (www.meltcincy.com) on Hamilton Avenue in Northside is a vegetarian and vegan haven, too, where they make their own seitan and even offer vegan biscuits and gravy, among loads of other options.

I’ve seen some excellent vegan offerings at Fresh Table (freshtable.biz) at Findlay Market.

I brought home their tofu croquettes and served them to a mix of carnivores, omnivores and vegans. They were really delicious and a huge hit. I haven’t tried their egg salad that’s made with tofu instead of eggs, but Meredith and Louis, the chefs at Fresh Table, have told me it’s a big seller.

Loving Hut (www.thelovingcafe.com) in Pleasant Ridge is part of a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants. They’ve even got branches in Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Their spring rolls, wraps, rice-based entrées and Panini sandwiches are entirely vegan.

If you’re dining with a mixed group of eaters, head to Green Dog Café (www.greendogcafe.net) in Columbia-Tusculum where vegan and carnivores alike can enjoy locally sourced, planet-friendly food and wine (because you can only be so virtuous before you really need a drink).

If you’re a converted vegan or just want to explore gourmet non-meat options, the March 19 “Vegan Ooh-La-La” dinner at The Summit (culinary.cincinnatistate.edu ), the fine-dining “teaching restaurant” at Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute, sounds impressive. The menu features Butternut Squash Soup with vanilla, pumpkin spice, chestnut and cardamom; Arugula-Spinach Salad with hummus, Castelvetrano olives, pickled peppers, radish and roasted lemon vinaigrette; Black Bean & Lentil Cakes with avocado, cumin spiced collard greens, tortillas and mango-ginger sauce; and Broccolini with assorted mushrooms, puffed rice and maple-thyme jus. And for desert, there’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter Torte with Coconut Mousse, “Milk” Chocolate Vegan Gelato and Whipped Passion Fruit.

This feast is a benefit for VeganEarth, a group raising awareness of veganism in Cincinnati. They’re not going to test you for Butterfinger residue at the door or anything — they just want more people to know that vegan eating doesn’t mean giving up tastiness. If you are interested, make a reservation before March 10 with Mary-Jane Newborn (513-929-2500 or VeganEarth@fuse.net). The price is $30.

CONTACT ANNE MITCHELL: amitchell@citybeat.com



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