Thanks to some local eateries, the veggie-friendly population is eating a lot more than just salads.
(610 S. Armenia Ave) is not your average pizza joint. As part of the regular menu, they offer eight specialty meatless and vegan (plant-based ingredients, using no animal products) pies. They even have vegan pizza breadsticks, and a variety of vegan cookies for the sweet tooth.
Open since 1999, owner Kristina Lima said she began with "the notion of wanting to make the whole pizza experience better." Staff recommendations include: the Mediterranean, the Southwestern and the Margherita.
Despite menu changes over the years, Lima’s philosophy has remained the same – provide “an eclectic menu executed with a health-conscious mind."
Everything on the menu is made from scratch, Lima said, from the dough to the sauces and marinades. She also offers a gluten-free crust.
"We really want this to be a restaurant where everyone can eat – from your pepperoni lover, your gluten-free diets, to your vegan diets,” Lima said.
“And not just be able to eat here, but love what you eat here."
Grass Root Organic Restaurant (4334 S. Manhattan Ave.) specializes in vegan and raw foods. Owned and operated Spencer Greene and Sabrina Aird – husband and wife executive chefs – Grass Root has been helping Tampa Bay eat healthier since 2005.
Greene said the pair began catering and vending at farmers markets in the Tampa Bay area before starting Grass Root. When they decided to open their own place, the restaurant had a "packed house the first day, and has been busy ever since," Greene said.
The hands-on duo want to give diners living foods and vegan comfort foods that taste better than the Standard American Diet. Most of the dishes on the menu were created for family members and the restaurant staff.
“We believe in creating a non-judgmental, relaxed environment for customers to dine in," Greene said.
(2507 S. MacDill Ave.) uses local Florida produce and organic ingredients to support Florida farmers and fishermen. Open less than a year, the restaurant has a menu for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Five tofu dishes are available, and there’s a vegetarian house specialty called Food Karma featuring 11 ingrediants including braised organic tofu, edamame, and shiitake mushrooms.
"No matter which protein is used, (tofu or meat or fish), the flavor and ingredients remain the same,” said restaurant staffer Lauren Sondel. “[The dishes] can be done without meat, using all the same ingredients."
South Tampa vegetarians even have a fast food option. (609 S. Howard Ave.) offers up a healthier version of the all-American meal. While they do serve meat, about a third of their menu is vegetarian.
EVOS is known for their airfries, a healthier version of French fries that are air-baked instead of deep-fried. Vegetarian options include a meatless burger, avocado-and-veggie garden patty wrap, chopped "steak" taco wrap, and vegetarian chili.
EVOS is the brainchild of three friends who were on a road trip and wanted that all-American meal of a burger, fries and a shake – without the side order of guilt. After driving for hundreds of miles without finding their dream meal, the trio came up with EVOS, an eatery that serves up an American meal made with healthier ingredients and cooked without the excess fat.