Today is the Fall Equinox which marks the first day of cooler weather and anticipation for all the holiday festivities. Its 2019 and with meat free diets skyrocketing, its likely you could share a meal with a plant based buddy or family member this year.

Here’s the deal, I am vegan through and through, I was vegetarian for about four years and have been vegan since 2017. Just to clarify, vegetarian means no meat but vegan means no meat, dairy, eggs, honey, products tested on animals, leather the whole nine.

Additionally, vegans are typically pretty mindful about sustainable living practices. This is because animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution and biodiversity loss. Its also the second largest contributor to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, after fossil fuels.

So when you visit a vegan restaurant you will notice a very different dining experience in that the to-go utensils could be compostable, the food is locally sourced and there will be no Styrofoam to-go containers in sight. You might also notice 'granola' types wearing hemp clothing with activism stickers on their reusable water bottle (that's probably me come say hi).

It can be a bit overwhelming for meat eaters but the good news is that these restaurants have your back and you are bound to find an epic meal, as the menus are often crafted with meat eaters in mind.

When my family comes to visit they are nervous about stepping into my lifestyle. But here’s the thing, most vegans and vegetarians don’t care what you order at a restaurant although many are uncomfortable bringing animal products into their home.

Luckily there are so many incredible plant based alternatives especially in Larimer County.

Here’s a list of local veg' friendly restaurants:

1. The Gold Leaf, is exclusively vegan and serves American cuisine. You may see them cruising around Fort Collins in their food truck called “The Silver Seed”.

2. Tasty Harmony, is mostly vegan but considered a vegetarian restaurant as they serve some butter dishes. Located in Fort Collins, here you’ll find American food, beer, wine and an organic juice bar. "Thankfully it is a lot easier to be vegetarian today, than it was 10 years ago,” said Tasty Harmony owner, Sacha Steinhauser in the Coloradoan.

3. The Bean Cycle, is your go-to coffee spot for plant-based baked goods, juices, smoothies and more.

Want to have your meant and eat it too?

4. Authentic American Tacos is the best of both worlds. They offer meat tacos but vegans can order the ‘earth, wing and fire’ taco and the ‘tofu Thai’ taco’. Gluten free options are also available

5. Avogadros Number is my personal favorite vegan-friendly option because, not only can my friends order meat but there’s a children’s treehouse on their expansive back patio.

6. Chipotle is a vegan friendly, more affordable option with meat alternatives and a sour cream free-guacamole. Located in Fort Collins and all over the U.S.

 

If you’re staying in and hosting a plant lover, try marinating vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli and bell peppers the same way you would a steak.

Veggie kabobs on the smoker are one of my favorite options for social events. There’s also an abundance of plant-based meats on the market and when in doubt, don’t be afraid to sauté some garlic and veggies on the skillet.

 

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