Sarasota County schools now observe “Meatless Mondays,” making Sarasota the first city in Florida to serve all-vegetarian meals once a week. Instead of mystery meat, the schools are serving kid-friendly, meat-free meals, such as hummus and vegetable subs, spaghetti, and taco salads. While the food chief for Sarasota County Public Schools acknowledges that the Meatless Mondays program is a good approach to get kids thinking about ways to fight obesity and other health problems, it was the students who were pushing for more meat-free meals.
The Meatless Mondays initiative is a great start and will hopefully inspire more and more students to eat meat-free meals throughout the week. The Sarasota area is very vegan-friendly. Even some of the pizza and burger joints on the Suncoast offer vegan options.
Kids and adults alike love pizza. Pizza SRQ offers a vegan pizza with gooey nondairy cheese, as does Rico’s Pizzeria. Vertoris Pizza House not only offers pizza and pasta that are made with Daiya dairy-free cheese but it also has vegan breadsticks, potato skins, soups, salads. A variety of other vegan menu items. And both Pizza SRQ and Vertoris also offer gluten-free crusts for people with gluten sensitivities.
Square 1 Burgers & Bar, a burger place with eight locations in Florida, including two in the Sarasota area, offers a Very Vegan Veggie Burger, which is served on a whole-wheat bun and topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado. Sun-dried tomato and artichoke hummus. And while you mightn't expect to find many vegan options at a place called Mr. Bones BBQ—which is located near Holmes Beach—the rib joint has a whole vegan menu, which includes potato leek soup, Thai sesame peanut noodles, General Moe’s watercress. More.
Holmes Beach happens to be the home of PETA’s 2014 Sexiest Vegan Over 50 contest winner Ellen Jaffe Jones. Ellen shares her love of vegan food by teaching cooking classes and writing books about vegan eating. With such passionate, inspiring vegans in the area, it’s easy to see why so many restaurants—even ones that tend to cater more towards meat-eaters—are now offering plant-based options.
The Sage Biscuit Café in nearby Bradenton calls its menu “naughty and nice” because it's lots of “nice” vegan options in addition to meaty meals. Taste of Asia in Sarasota has an entire vegan menu that’s full of delicious Thai, Laotian. Vietnamese dishes, and Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine marks its many vegan dishes with a leaf so that diners can easily distinguish between vegetarian and vegan options. Shore Diner—located in the touristy St. Armands Circle—is far from a vegetarian restaurant. It, too, offers several vegan options, including a kale “Caesar” salad, a black bean burger. A vegan tempeh scramble.
Of course, there are plenty of more obvious places to find tasty vegan fare in Sarasota. Veg. Instance, has an extensive selection of vegan options, as does Smell the Bread, a natural foods kitchen with an all-vegan bakery. Beauty of Sprouts and Ionie Healing Center & Raw Food Cafe serve raw, gluten-free vegan food. And Simon’s Coffee House, another local favourite, offers raw lasagne, along with vegan soups, sandwiches, smoothies. Desserts—including vegan chocolate cake and vegan fudge. Café Evergreen, in nearby Nokomis, also offers raw vegan dishes, as well as smoothies, salads, soups. Sandwiches.
And like many other cities, Sarasota also has several vegan-friendly chain restaurants, including Chipotle, which has vegan sofritas; Tropical Smoothie Café, which offers Beyond Meat. TCBY, which sells Silk vegan frozen yogurt. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can find vegetarian and vegan fare just about everywhere in Sarasota—in the schools, in the restaurants. Even in the spring training stadium. Hopefully, now that more young people are realizing that there is plenty to eat if you don’t eat meat, plant-based options will continue to sprout up around Sarasota.