If you are like many Americans who are eating less meat, we’ve got some good news.
Aside from the potential positives for your health and the environment, reducing or eliminating meat intake can also be the start of a culinary adventure.
Chefs and restaurants are getting creative to cater to this growing crowd of plant-based eaters. There are many delicious traditional and cultural foods that happen to be meat-free as well.
We asked members of our Facebook group “Manatee Eats” where to go for vegan and vegetarian dining in Manatee County.
Here’s where they recommend:
Sage Biscuit Café
Sage Biscuit Café takes the crown for vegan/vegetarian breakfast and brunch in Manatee County.
Vegetarian offerings include omelets and hearty dishes such as the “Veggie Lover’s Skillet” and “Veggie Hash.”
For vegan eats, try the “Southwestern Quinoa Scramble” (quinoa sauteed with olive oil, seasonings, onions, corn, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and cilantro served with fresh fruit), “Southwestern Skillet” (veggies and scrambled tofu served in a cast iron skillet and topped with salsa and guacamole) or the “Tofu Scramble” (tofu scrambled with veggies served with fruit and toast).
Meat-free lunch options include salads, rice bowls, sandwiches, wraps and Sage Biscuit’s killer homemade veggie burger.
The Sage Biscuit Café is located at 6656 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton and at 1401 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.
Birdrock Taco Shack
Birdrock Taco Shack is a restaurant in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts.
Chef David Shiplett lets his culinary creativity run wild, giving tacos and burritos all kinds of new twists.
The menu offers lots of vegan and vegetarian options, and it changes seasonally, so there’s always something new to try.
Taco highlights from a recent menu include the “Avocado Bahn Mi,” the “Edamame with Pineapple Bang-Bang” and the “Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese.”
With offerings changing seasonally, you have a good reason to come back and see what’s new.
Birdrock Taco Shack is at 1004 10th Ave. W. in Bradenton.
Flavors of India
Flavors of India offers daily lunch and dinner buffets with spreads of great traditional Indian dishes — including plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. nightly and offers online ordering and delivery within a three-mile radius.
Flavors of India is at 6103 14th St. W. in Bradenton.
Blue Jasper Restaurant
Blue Jasper is a quaint breakfast and lunch spot in Bradenton.
The cafe has a vegan and gluten-free menu that features quinoa cakes, savory crepes, vegetable curry and lemongrass and coconut curry.
Vegetarian options include omelets, a breakfast quesadilla (hold the chorizo), soups, salads, a veggie pesto wrap and more.
Blue Jasper is at 5718 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton.
Poppo’s Taqueria has four locations, all in Bradenton.
The restaurant serves simple yet delicious tacos, burritos, quesadillas and bowls made with quality ingredients.
Pick your own fillings from brown or white rice, black or pinto beans, pico de gallo, honey-lime slaw, jack or feta cheese, cilantro, red onion, seasonal greens, sour cream and guacamole.
For a non-meat protein, try organic tempeh.
Poppo’s Taqueria has four Bradenton locations:
▪ 212 C Pine Ave.;
▪ 6777 Manatee Ave. W.;
▪ 4220 53rd Ave. E.;
▪ 8471 Cooper Creek Blvd.
Vertoris Pizza House
Sure, lots of pizza places have vegetarian options. But at Vertoris Pizza House in Bradenton, there’s a vegan menu.
Options include garlic and breadsticks (vegan butter included), salads, veggie pasta and butternut squash ravioli.
The restaurant makes a special nine-grain pizza crust, and the cheese on any pie can be subbed for a dairy-free variety.
Vertoris Pizza House is at 6830 14th St. W. in Bradenton.
Earth Fare is a health food grocery store chain that got its start in Asheville, N.C. Only food that meets a strict set of nutritional standards (no artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup, for example) are allowed on the store’s shelves.
Vegans, vegetarians and people with other special diets will find more options than at the typical grocery store.
Earth Fare also has a full production bakery, deli and grab-and-go counter that make it a great place for picking up lunch, dinner or a quick snack.
Earth Fare is at 11525 State Road 70 E. in Lakewood Ranch.
Rodney’s Jamaican Grill
The word in our Manatee Eats group is that Rodney’s veggie plate (spinach or cabbage served with rice and beans and sweet fried plantains) is delicious. The dish comes with your choice of two sides.
Other veg-friendly options include salads and fried green plantains.
Rodney’s Jamaican Grill is at 814 Eighth Ave. W. in Palmetto.
3 Keys Brewing and Eatery
Beer and good food are plentiful at 3 Keys Brewing and Eatery in Bradenton.
Vegetarians can chow down on nachos, “Kentucky Beer Cheese,” spinach and artichoke dip, burgers (substitute beef for a vegan patty) veggie pizza or a vegetarian waffle sandwich.
The restaurant also happily offers substitutions to make dishes that suit your diet.
3 Keys Brewing and Eatery is at 2505 Manatee Ave. E. in Bradenton.
The Good Liquid Brewing Company
The Good Liquid Brewing Company recently opened a kitchen and started serving up dishes to compliment their craft beer.
The offerings are decadent.
Take a bite of crispy brussel sprouts (served with candied pecans, gorgonzola and blackbery porter gastrique), salt and vinegar trips with onion truffle dip, pilsner tempura cauliflower, a two-bean veggie burger, flatbreads and desserts.
The Good Liquid Brewing Company is at 4824 14th St. W. in Bradenton.
Mr. Bones BBQ
A barbecue restaurant with vegan and vegetarian options? You read that right. And there are lots of them on the menu at Mr. Bones.
Options include rice plates (add tofu or feta for an upcharge), salads, Thai curry tofu, sesame peanut noodles, black beans and rice, veggie burgers and quesadillas.
Mr. Bones BBQ is at 3007 Gulf Dr. in Holmes Beach.
In addition to coffee and tea, this walk-up window in downtown Bradenton offers vegan snacks such as protein bars and salads to go.
A full-scale vegan cafe and an outdoor wine and beer garden are coming soon.
Tellers is located in the rear parking lot of 1201 Sixth Ave. W. in Bradenton.
Little Saigon Cafe
Little Saigon Cafe serves up tasty Vietnamese street food.
The tofu bahn mi sandwich on homemade bread is a great option for vegan and vegetarian eating.
Others include tofu rice noodle bowls and rice plates, veggie spring rolls and fruit smoothies.
Little Saigon Cafe is at 3211 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.