Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives? How about Tofu, Tempeh, and Tea?

Tofu, Tempeh & Tea- Allison Ziraldo
Photo Courtesy of www.peta.org

Living in the Mitten as what I like to call a “pseudo-vegan,” one of my biggest challenges is finding places to go out to eat which will both satisfy my healthy food needs AND be approachable enough that my carnivorous comrades will not run screaming to the nearest Taco Bell.

In this round up, I have put together some of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants state-wide. Truth is, vegan and vegetarian restaurants can be intimidating for those who think it’s all tofu and mung beans… But these places get it right, whether you are on a strict diet or not.

The Upper Peninsula
Sweet Water Café- 517 N. Third St., Marquette, MI
The Sweet Water Cafe defines  themselves as “a restaurant, bar, and bakery specializing in multicultural cuisine made from natural ingredients.” While it isn’t a full vegetarian restaurant, there are healthy, delicious options (like the Café Scramble- herbed tofu, broccoli, tomatoes, and onions served with potatoes and toast- yum!) for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Northern Michigan
Roast and Toast- 309 E Lake St, Petoskey, MI
A staple in downtown Petosky, Roast and Toast specializes in soups and sandwiches. What’s great about this place- other than their yummy menu and commitment to their local community- is that they will adjust their entrees to fit any dietary needs (vegan, lactose-intolerant, gluten-free, etc.)!

Tofu, Tempeh & Tea- Allison Ziraldo
Photo Courtesy of www.michigan.org

CB’s Bucket Bar & Grille- 132 W Grand River Ave, Williamston, MI
Not far from downtown Lansing and MSU’s East Lansing campus, CB’s is known for their bar food- pizzas and wings. However, this bar is also proudly vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, so if you’re looking for a night out on the town that won’t wreck your diet (or your wallet), CB’s is a great place to start- vegetarian or not!

Heather’s Restaurant- 205 3rd St., Bay City, MI
Okay, I might need to take a trip to Bay City JUST to visit this place. With entrees like Buffalo Un-Chicken Mac n’ Cheese (vegan, dairy-free, and delicious), Mushroom Tacos, and Quinoa & Black Bean burgers, who could resist?

Southeast Michigan
People’s Food Co-Op & Cafe Verde- 216 N. 4th Ave., Ann Arbor, MI
If you’re on the go in Ann Arbor, stop by Cafe Verde to refuel with a cup of fair-trade coffee, some vegan baked goods, or a meal from the deli case- entrees ranging from sandwiches to soups to pasta- all items feature organic, local ingredients.

Traffic Jam & Snug- 511 West Canfield, Detroit, MI
If you’re a vegetarian looking for something a little different on a night out, Traffic Jam is just the ticket. This brewpub, located in Downtown Detroit, makes their own beer and cheese in addition to rocking out everything from fresh daily bread to entrees like the Tex-Mex Lentil Burger and Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna. If comfort food and good beer is what you’re after, this joint will hit the spot.

West Michigan
Bartertown Diner- 6 Jefferson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI
I could write an entire post JUST about the vegan/vegetarian food scene in Grand Rapids, but if I were to pick out my personal favorite, it would be Bartertown. The menu and atmosphere definitely lends itself to the hippy stereotype, but even my meat-eater friends have been wowed by the general awesomeness of everything on the menu. Bartertown features daily specials that highlight seasonal, all-organic local farm foods for a very reasonable price. My personal favorite? Their bean tacos with chili aioli sauce. I get two if I’m hungry, three if I’m starving- they’re only $2 a pop!

Lemonjello’s Coffee- 61 E 9th St, Holland, MI
Right in the middle of Hope College and Holland’s downtown strip, Lemonjello’s is a staple in my ‘hood. While it’s not a full-service restaurant, LJ’s has a bakery case filled to the brim with fresh baked goods (including dairy- and gluten-free muffins, cookies, and bagels), fair-trade coffee drinks, and daily vegan and vegetarian soups. Try the vegetarian chili, one yummy protein-packed cup will keep you full and satisfied!

Tofu, Tempeh & Tea- Allison Ziraldo
Photo Courtesy of Lemonjello’s

We’ve only scratched the surface of the vegetarian and vegan options in Michigan- let’s keep the momentum going! Comment below with your favorite vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurant!

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Thanks primarily to long marathons of the Food Network (shout out to Alton Brown!) and many failed kitchen experiments, I have come to appreciate the ever-important role of food and fitness in a healthy a lifestyle. My view? It doesn't make you an elitist to be educated about what you put in your body. There is no rule book that says you have to become a vegan overnight, or cut out gluten entirely, or start wearing a beret and shopping solely at fair-trade markets. You can still go out with friends, shop at Meijer, and keep quick, easy food on hand. You're in a hurry, you're on a budget... I get it. But you CAN make just a few small changes and lose weight, prevent disease, and have more energy. I'm here to prove it. Join me on my ever-growing quest to find the most delicious, nutritious food and learn from the people who grow it, sell it, and cook it- right here in our own backyard.
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