People become vegetarians, or forgo eating meat certain days of the week, for many reasons.
They may not like the idea of eating animals. They may feel a plant-based diet is a healthier lifestyle.
Whatever their reasons, they can find many restaurants in Lancaster County and beyond that are becoming vegan- or vegetarian-friendly.
And they can find expanding options at the grocery store, as well, just in time to observe World Vegetarian Day on Sunday.
There are restaurants such as Root on West Walnut Street in Lancaster, where all of the dishes are vegan.
But there are other local eateries that, while still serving meat and poultry, are expanding their offerings of plant-based dishes and touting the vegetarian items on their menus.
“We get a lot of business from vegetarians and vegans,” says Tish Ramos, head chef at the Dragonfly Cafe, 245 Bloomfield Drive near Lititz.
“We already have (vegetarian and vegan) items on our menu, but I have been doing a lot of research, and finding out a lot more about it, so we can expand our offerings. We’re going to try to incorporate some more items into our (next updated) menu.”
Some of the popular vegetarian items on the Dragonfly menu are vegetable wraps with homemade red pepper hummus, and a falafel wrap with tahini hummus, Ramos says.
Also popular, she adds, is the Power Dragonfly salad, with quinoa, dried cranberries, cucumbers, sunflower seeds and feta cheese on a bed of spring greens and a sauteed salad of hummus topped with sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and pita wedges.
“It does seem like people are very much into the bowls, where the dishes are rice-based, with different toppings,” Ramos says. “That’s something we’re looking into (adding to our menu). In both vegetarian and nonvegetarian bowls.”
“We’re really big on both vegan and nonvegan burgers, says Chad Bomberger, sous chef at Trio Bar and Grill, 3707 Marietta Ave., Silver Spring.
“We sell a lot of house corn and black bean burgers,” says Bomberger, whose brother, Alex, is also a chef at the restaurant. “That’s been trending throughout the years, I feel.
“We also serve an entree that’s coconut curry, which is seasonal vegetables simmered in the curry sauce,” he says.
“And we just started selling what’s called a Beyond Burger,” he says. “It’s a veggie burger that ‘bleeds.’ It has beet juice that basically mimics the blood from a beef burger. Crazy, right?
“It’s pretty good, to be honest,” says Bomberger, who eats meat but likes to cook and eat vegetarian dishes.
“We have a vegan and a nonvegan soup of the day every day,” Bomberger says. For example, a tomato-basil soup uses vegetable stock and coconut milk as its broth.
“People have no idea it’s vegan,” he says, “because it tastes like a normal cream of tomato soup.”
Srirupa Dasgupta, owner of Upohar — a business that includes a food stand at Central Market, a catering company and a soon-to-reopen international-cuisine vegan restaurant — says the menu at the new eatery will include more dishes from the Americas.
“We will include a Puerto Rican ensemble (dish) of stewed pinto beans with sweet fried plantains on yellow rice with pigeon peas,” Dasgupta says.
“Another thing we are thinking of is a nice fall pasta dish with seasonal roasted vegetables,” she says. “That’s something familiar, and American.
“In the summer, there will be a soup and sandwich combination,” she says. “We have this really nice vegetable sandwich that we offer as part of our catering repertoire.”
The new Upohar vegan restaurant will be in Grandview Plaza, at 798 New Holland Ave. The former location on West Roseville Road closed last year.
Phil Allamong of Quarryville, who coordinates the Lancaster Vegetarian Society, says he also has noticed some trends in vegetarian options offered in grocery stores.
“Plant-based milks are up-and-comers,” he says, such as coconut, almond and cashew milks.
“Tofurkey (the company that makes soy-based meat substitues) is expanding its offerings at the end of October,” he says, including a faux ham loaf.