Dan Barash Online

For the vegan in you
December 10, 2009, 1:58 pm
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By ABBY WEINGARTEN Correspondent

Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 11:20 a.m.

Veganism — a once rather obscure dietary choice — is now officially part of the vernacular. As a hat-tip today, people throughout the world are bringing even more light to this dairy-free, meat-free lifestyle by celebrating International Animal Rights Day. The point: to open up a dialogue about animal abuse and the ecological benefits of making more conscious food choices. Sarasota-Manatee residents can too take part by visiting these creature-friendly locales:

Taste of Asia

1535 Main St., Sarasota. 365-2728; www.tasteofasiasrq.com

Any local vegan guide will tell you that Taste of Asia in downtown Sarasota is the restaurant for herbivores. Begin with a papaya salad with lettuce, ground peanuts and vermicelli, and for a drink, try an orange-tinted Thai iced tea (no cream, of course). There are fresh vegan rolls with steamed tofu in rice paper and fried tofu cubes with sweet and sour sauce on the appetizer side. For an entrée, if the salad alone doesn’t suffice, order the well-named “Amazing” — a mix of brightly colored vegetables smothered in peanut sauce.

Simon’s Coffee House

5900 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 922-2500; www.simonstogo.com

A utopia for vegans and even strict raw foodists, Simon’s Coffee House offers an sandwiches, all designed to make “nutritious” feel decadent. The resident raw food chef whips up raw vegan meals and desserts, and there is a smattering of vegetarian soups on the menu, from lentil to celery to curried butternut and black bean (sans sour cream, for vegans). Fresh fruit smoothies like the “Rasamataz” with raspberries, bananas and apple juice provide a naturally sugary complement.

Buddha Belly Donuts

1990 Main St., Sarasota. 952-0700

Vegan desserts? That combination of words may sounds ill-matched to some, but at Buddha Belly Donuts, most taste buds won’t be able to tell the difference. Just imagine a laundry list of chocolate glazed, powdered and jelly donuts, all of which are made without any animal byproducts. This locale proves it’s possible, and not even much of a sacrifice. Sure, blocks away, Whole Foods Market sells an impressive selection of vegan puddings and candy bars, but sometimes you just need a guilt-free doughnut. Sorry, Dunkin’.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

8192 Tourist Center Drive, Bradenton (351-7979); 4005 Clark Road, Sarasota (929-0630). www.moes.com

A Mexican eatery is usually a safe bet for vegans, as beans can be substituted for meat in most dishes. At Moe’s Southwest Grill, diners can get creative too. With its Subway or Chipotle-like layout, Moe’s has an ingredients chart that can be flipped around and worked into numerous combinations. Think of how many tacos and burritos can be concocted using tofu, pinto beans, rice, guacamole, salsa and tortillas (all vegan). Salad-wise, opt for the “Personal Trainer” (no cheese), with its heap of lettuce, beans, pico de gallo, black olives and cucumbers.

This story appeared in print on page E30