My Search For Plant-Based Entrées

By Michelle Berry

Watermelon Poke; coconut pureé, red uzu kosho, wakame, cashews, and scallions at SALT Raw Bar and Fine Cuisine.

It started like any other New Year’s Resolution, except it was a 30-day challenge inspired by the documentary Forks over Knives that touts the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. For the record, this was not my idea. My husband Chris, who fell asleep 10 minutes into the movie, thought this plant-based diet would be a great way to ring in the New Year. (This guy loves challenges.) Having watched the documentary in its entirety, I was very concerned and tried to talk him out of it. Me: “You’re joking, right? 30 days is a long time. We’re gonna starve.” Chris: “Come on, it’s only 30 days,” he said with the enthusiasm of every resolutionist (not a word, but it should be) on January 1st. It was the dawn of 2016 and my research on veganism began immediately and in earnest. At first it was all about how not to starve and how not to lose our minds for the next 30 days. Chris relied on me to clue him in on our dietary restrictions. “Can I eat this?” he said, holding a yogurt.

After two weeks, I fell down a rabbit hole of learning where food comes from, how it gets processed, how it affects our health, and how it affects the health of our environment. Chris waved the white flag and went back to eating his normal diet. My brain, my heart, my stomach, my cells, even my blood all understood things differently now—turning back was not an option for me. My heart couldn’t—and it still can’t—unsee those images of factory farms. I began looking into the eyes of every cow in a field or fish in a tank with deep compassion.

So, three and a half years later, here’s a new food challenge: finding a restaurant on the South Shore to enjoy a savory vegan entree and a cocktail with my surf-and-turf loving family.

Even though 99.9% of us aren’t vegan and are getting twitchy just at the thought, many of us do want to add some mouth-watering, non-traditional plant-based foods to our diet. Recent research conducted by OnePoll for the non-dairy food producer So Delicious Dairy Free found that 1 in 3 American consumers eat at least one plant-based meal a day, averaging four per week. The study also found that 52% of Americans are exchanging meat for plant-based ingredients daily and are open to the idea of vegan food.

Plant-based (vegan) meals do not include meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy. If you’re a carnivore and still with me—first, I’m encouraged. Second, you’re probably thinking, “Ugh, eating salads and vegetables all the time—boring.” I had the same thoughts until I did a quick Internet search. It turns out that there are many delicious and magical ways to flavor and prepare fruits, veggies, grains, and nuts. Thanks to a growing community of plant-based food bloggers, I’m continually excited to discover and try new recipes.

Many restaurants still don’t feature vegan entrees, but change is coming. A handful of local eating establishments, sparked by a growing demand for healthier choices, have taken this progressive, mindful step forward. Here are a few local restaurants, and their tasty plant-based entrees, I’ve recently found in my travels. (If you know of more, please share!)

Alden Park

Lettuce Wraps ~ crispy tofu, jasmine rice, stir fry vegetables, Thai peanut sauce, soy glaze

Vegetable Stir Fry ~ jasmine rice, mango salsa, broccolini, julienne-cut zucchini, summer squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, lo mein noodles, water chestnuts, Thai peanut sauce, ponzu.

Alden Park
160 Colony Place
Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 830-6777
www.AldenParkRestaurant.com

Burton’s Grill

Wild Mushroom Risotto with peas and lemon sauce

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl ~ roasted cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potato, julienne vegetables, quinoa, pepitas, golden raisins

Black Bean Tostada ~ crispy tortillas, black bean patty, pickled cabbage slaw, guacamole, grilled corn, tomato-jalapeno relish, Baja sauce, fresh cilantro

Burton’s Grill
94 Derby Street
Hingham, MA 02043
(781) 749-1007
www.BurtonsGrill.com

Grill 110

Vegetarian Stir Fry ~ sautéed linguini noodles tossed in hoisin teriyaki with broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and red peppers

Pasta Primavera ~ broccoli, mushrooms, green and red peppers, tossed with cavatappi pasta

Vegan Fried Pickles and cocktail at Grill 110, Plymouth.

Grill 110
(Three locations in SE MA)
170 Forbes Road
Braintree, MA 02184
(781) 849-5980

53-1 Commerce Way Plaza
Plymouth, MA 02360
(774) 773-3979

560 William S. Canning Boulevard
Fall River, MA 02721
(774) 704-5422
www.110Grill.com

Mary’s Burgers

A whole separate menu dedicated to Vegan/Vegetarian meals and BYOB!

All vegan “meat” (except for the Impossible Burger) is made in-house. They partner with local New England vegan chefs and businesses. Most ingredients are sourced locally from small, family-owned shops.

Vegan Chinese boneless spareribs, BBQ beef ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, and lots of sandwiches, burgers, and sides (vegan meat is seasoned seitan).

Mary’s Steamed Burgers
288 Union Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
(774) 202-0236
www.MarysNB.com

SALT Raw Bar & Fine Cuisine

A scratch kitchen focused on seasonal, local, and sustainably sourced ingredients. The chef is married to a vegan so don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions.

Fried Moroccan Cauliflower ~ Golden raisins, ras el hanout and pistachios

Tofu & Vegetable Ramen ~ chili and garlic broth, Napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, scallion, seasonal vegetables

Salt Raw Bar & Fine Cuisine
170 Water Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
(774) 283-4660
www.SaltRawBarPlymouth.com

Want more? Start asking your local restaurants for more plant-based options.

Mention a great plant-based meal you had at another restaurant and help inspire change.

If you are strictly vegan, be sure to let the kitchen know, as some of these meals are offered with dairy.

Note: Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, and Mexican restaurants, which are usually vegan-friendly.

Search www.happycow.net for additional vegan restaurants, markets, and B&B retreats.

Michelle Berry lives in Pembroke with her husband, two sons, and boxer. As the only vegan eater among family and friends, she enjoys introducing plant-based recipes to her community. She also loves teaching yoga. (You saw that coming, right? Namaste.)