The omnivore's dilemma doesn't seem so difficult when there are restaurant meal options that won't burst your healthy conscience. That's the point of Meatless Mondays, a nationwide initiative launched in hopes of convincing Americans to eat more veggies.
Locally, Triangle Meatless Mondays (trianglemm.com) will kick off April 22 at select restaurants, featuring an extra helping of vegetarian and vegan dishes in addition to their regular menus. Folks may be familiar with the concept due to Eleni Vlachos' well-known efforts to spread vegan cheer throughout the community. Vlachos is the mastermind behind The Pinhook's vegan Thanksgiving and other meals, and the Bull City Vegan Challenge (bullcityveganchallenge.com).
For Meatless Mondays, our entire region is in the kitchen. Spring Rolls in North Raleigh will participate, with Chinese- and Thai-inspired meatless entrées. Eddie Tu, who owns the restaurant with his sister Susan, says the vegetarian dishes will be mostly locally sourced. Their regular vegetarian menu, he says, is inspired by Buddhist tradition but is also based on the modern need to eat healthier.
"I feel that the mass consumption of meat itself—[with] chickens twice the [normal] size for the consumer market—is just not healthy," he says.
Vlachos thinks this is a fun way to "start a conversation about the environmental and ethical impact of food choices ... This is a way for people to explore and experiment while supporting our local food."
Other participating restaurants are Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe and The Pig in Chapel Hill; Beyú Caffé and Dame's Chicken and Waffles in Durham; Remedy Diner in Raleigh; Moe's Southwest Grill in Durham and Raleigh; Worth It Cafe in RTP; and the Pie Pushers food truck (if you can snag a slice with their inventive brussels sprout pesto, do it). Pomegranate Kitchen of Durham, closed on Mondays, has vowed to be a part of the initiative on the other days of the week. Vlachos says she plans to add schools, hospitals and other venues in conjunction with city and county sustainability councils. For more details, visit trianglemm.com.
For carnivores wanting to indulge before (or after) next Monday, the Wednesday Carrboro Farmers' Market (carrborofarmersmarket.com) opened its season last week with a new pushcart for hog hounds. Sam Suchoff, chef and owner of The Pig, now serves ready-to-eat artisanal charcuterie during Wednesday market hours. These fancy sausages come in handmade gourmet styles like mortadella, boudin blanc and cotechino and use pork from the N.C. Natural Hog Growers Association that is Animal Welfare Approved. Another new vendor, Porcino, offers farmer-made, from-scratch bread and pizza items, including vegan and gluten-free options.
And if you need to binge on junk food, what better way to do so than with a side of baseball and a cold brew? The Durham Bulls just released new stadium menu items, including the Walking Taco, "seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese and jalapeño peppers all served inside a bag of Doritos, Doritos with a kick!" It may even come with a plastic spork. Take that, Michael Pollan.