Hold the steak, please — and the pulled pork sliders. And those spare ribs. Put down your forks and knives.
While not eating meat may sound borderline traumatic to many, some local carnivores have taken a pledge to say goodbye to meat for 31 days. Sponsored by The Girls Gone Green, No Meat March is celebrating its third year in Northeast Florida.
Start your day with a freshly roasted coffee from Sipper’s Coffeehouse (7643 Gate Parkway, Southside), which serves dairy-free alternatives to add to your java. The homemade chai and sugar-free chai are heavenly blended with creamy soy.
A drool-worthy brunch can be found at any of the area FirstWatch The Daytime Café locations (13470 Beach Blvd., at Hodges Boulevard; 11111 San Jose Blvd., Ste. 14, Mandarin; 5444 Marsh Landing Parkway, Ste. 4, Jacksonville Beach). Try the fresh fruit crêpes topped with low-fat organic strawberry yogurt and a dash of cinnamon and sugar. They’re served with homemade granola and the baked muffin of the day. FirstWatch’s omelets are made with cage-free eggs. The C’est la vie with roasted zucchini, onions, tomatoes and herbed goat cheese is a favorite.
For a lunch less than $10 and several veg options daily, head to Chomp Chomp (106 E. Adams St., Downtown). The tofu and pickled veggie bahn mi with a side of salad or thin-cut crispy curry potato chips are just what the doctor ordered. Or try the TMB — no bacon here — TMB stands for tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. You can swap tofu for chicken or pork when you choose the curry of the day. One caveat – Chomp Chomp is closed Saturday through Monday for lunch.
Chamblin’s Uptown (215 N. Laura St., Downtown) offers delicious veg hot soups and wrapped specialties. They have two veggie wraps, a curry tempeh wrap and other specials that grace the chalkboard menu from time to time like vegan chili, Tofurkey and Swiss on a tomato basil wrap and VGBLT (lettuce and tomato with avocado and tempeh bacon).
Ethnic restaurants are no-brainers for meat-free options. Thai (tofu pad Thai and any noodle and rice dish can be made without meat), Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Italian, Chinese and Indian spots across town are safe bets.
For a vegtastic lunch on the go, many area food trucks serve delectable meatless options. Corner Taco has tempeh tacos and asparagus tacos on freshly made corn tortillas. The salad with tomatoes, sea salt and homemade thyme vinaigrette is also worthy of a tempeh addition. Super Food Truck has a new quinoa, spinach, goat cheese, tomato, cucumber and avocado wrap, which is the perfect complement to sweet potato fries. On the Fly offers The Tree Hugger hummus wrap, avocado and caramelized onion soft taco and parmesan-crusted grilled cheese with brie, tomato and pesto. The Happy Grilled Cheese food truck has sweet (think creamy Nutella, peanut butter and bananas) and savory meat-free sandwiches and soups. Locations vary. For daily stops, follow the trucks on facebook.com/jaxtruckies. (Full disclosure: I am one of the founders of Jax Truckies.)
Swing into M Shack (299 Atlantic Blvd., Neptune Beach) for a Super Kale Salad with apples, avocado, pecans, tamari, raisins, sesame seeds and a ginger garlic dressing or have a grilled-cheese-and-tomato sandwich with sweet potato tots. Make the veggie burger vegan by opting out of melted provolone.
Try The Garage (2692 Post St., Riverside) for a grilled cheese with a side of wavy potato chips and a slightly spicy, peppery creamy Garage sauce that’s highly addictive. The Garage also serves a tasty veggie burger. And don’t forget the red velvet cupcake “burger” for dessert — four frosted mini-cupcakes and a slice of melted Swiss sandwiched together within a crispy pressed roll.
GGG’s vegjax.com site is an excellent resource, packed with helpful information about what restaurants offer which vegetarian and vegan selections.
And on nomeatmarch.com, you’ll find a forum for participants to share stories or swap meatless recipes.