Veganism is a growing popular lifestyle , and a part of life for the health-conscious majority of foodies in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is one of the nation’s top cities for restaurants per capita, and the choices and variety abound throughout the city. The search for vegan-oriented diets is not difficult, as many restaurants offer delicious menu items, alternatives of their non-vegetarian renditions, and even desserts made without eggs and dairy products. Baked goods are often soy-based and made with natural oils to achieve maximum flavor.
Veganism is a growing trend and lifestyle choice that focuses on plant-based foods, natural, often organic selections, and dairy-free products. For some it is a philosophy, a religious viewpoint, or simply an ethical and environmentally-conscious choice. For others, it is an opportunity to increase nutrition and maximize energy. Meat eating has often been criticized for its effects on health, and many diseases and cardiovascular problems have been attributed to high-meat diets with unhealthy fat. Veganism is an alternative approach to eating. The lifestyle and menus focus on a nature-based diet, often incorporating organic and fresh food at each meal.
To accommodate for the need for full-scale menus and options of many vegans throughout the city, Madison restaurants have picked up the pace on selections and offerings at a variety of restaurants. Natural food stores and co-ops offer vegan-friendly fare in their bakeries and delis. Here are just five great restaurants in Madison that are also ‘vegan-friendly.’ These offer a vast array of ethnic, wholesome, and plant-based foods that encompass a variety of tastes:
-318 State Street
This Nepali restaurant is a Madison favorite located on the city’s famous State Street. Family-owned and operated for generations, Himal Chuli offers traditional-style lentils (dal), steamed rice, samosas, and spicy vegetable stews. Although there is meat on the menu, the ‘Tarkari’ vegetable stews stand out for flavor and variety. This traditional dish is composed of spicy potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, and tomato combinations that are sure to please any palate. The homemade ‘momochas’ are a house specialty; these steamed dumplings are filled with a delicious peanut sauce, topped with a tomato-coriander relish.
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
-2089 Atwood Avenue
This great spot offers a balance of diner nostalgia with a vegan spin for a portion of the menu. The Grilled Vegetable Spinach Salad is a tasty medley of marinated zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers served with quinoa and fresh spinach. The Meatless Loaf of the Gods is a popular item for vegetarians, comprised of onions, mushrooms, carrots, and Cheddar cheese. The vegetarian chili is a satisfying wintertime treat, and the menu also offers a vegetarian special of the day.
King of Falafel
-453 W Gilman Street
Falafel is a chickpea-based ‘patty’, often made with fava beans. It is a popular Mediterranean staple and can be cooked and served in a variety of ways. Tahini is tasty sesame-seed based dressing/spread that often goes along with it, and adds a zip of flavor to almost any dish. King of Falafel offers a wide menu selection of appetizers, salads, pita sandwiches, and entrees. For vegans, the homemade hummus, babaghanouj (a pureed eggplant dip), and stuffed grape leaves make great appetizers. Pita sandwiches made with the signature falafel are tasty and plentiful, and a Vegetarian sandwich offers a satisfying mix of eggplant, potato, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Chin’s Asia Fresh
-422 State Street and 8414 Old Sauk Road
This popular and trendy chain restaurant appeals to many vegans for an extensive menu and fresh options. The stir fries offer a medley of vegetables and rice, with tofu as an option. The food is fast, fresh, and well-prepared, and multiple options for sauces. The vegetarian spring rolls are a great appetizer, as well as the fresh noodle bowls where tofu and vegetarian options provide for a healthy and nutritious lunch or dinner.
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream
-Multiple locations and grocery stores
This popular Wisconsin-based ice cream chain features award-winning flavors and premium quality. The Chocolate Shoppe offers five different soy flavors perfect for the vegan sweet tooth; choose from Espresso Oreo made with Columbian coffee; Mint Chip with non-dairy liquid chocolate chips; Strawberry with real, whole strawberries and organic cane sugar; Vanilla Chocolate Chip with non-dairy chocolate chips; and old-fashioned Vanilla made with pure Madagascar vanilla. Other choices include sugar-free iced treats, and cooling Italian ice.