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North Hills Monthly

Vegetarians and Vegans Have Wealth of Choices at Local Restaurants

Oct 31, 2018 07:30AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Double Wide Grill

Say “holiday meals,” and visions of golden turkeys, gorgeous standing rib roasts or crispy hams may come to mind. But for more and more people, meatless meals are the norm. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are becoming more commonplace and in fact, in many other countries, the overwhelming majority of individuals are vegetarian or vegan. 

Generally speaking, those who follow vegetarian diets include dairy and egg products in what they eat, while vegans avoid all animal products. In the Greater Pittsburgh region, there are lots of options for vegetarians and vegans when choosing places for holiday celebrations.

Onion Maiden is a popular vegan restaurant that features homemade cashew cheeses, tots and nachos, soups and main dishes and unbelievable vegan cheesecakes. It is a great place for small holiday get-togethers that both vegans and carnivores will enjoy. Celebrating the holidays at home? Take home a pumpkin cheesecake, homemade cashew cheese or vegan baked goods. 

Well-known for their barbecue, with more than 25 vegetarian and over a dozen vegan options, Double Wide Grill has also become loved in vegan circles. 

Ryan Moore, director of events and operations, said best-sellers include their signature seitan wings; the Veggyro—a vegan gyro; smoked provolone and broccoli mac and cheese; and their house-made veggie burger.

With the holidays right around the corner, Double Wide’s vast menu makes it a good choice for office and family parties. “We have a variety of spaces to accommodate different-sized groups and have a wide variety of food options to please barbecue lovers as well as vegans and vegetarians, and those with other dietary restrictions,” Moore said. 

Double Wide includes vegan and vegetarian selections for a variety of reasons. “We are all animal lovers and know that many of our customers are as well. As modern families require different dietary needs, we provide options to accommodate all dietary restrictions alongside our traditional barbecue offerings,” he added. 

LeMont Restaurant has been a go-to for decades to celebrate those special occasions. With a spectacular view of Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington, there are always vegetarian and vegan selections—and if you don’t see them on the menu, just ask for them.  

"At LeMont, we want to make sure that our customers have the dinner options they need for their dietary preferences, from vegetarian to vegan to gluten-free," said Executive Chef Robert Vargo. "It helps when you make your dinner reservation to let us know if you want a vegan meal, for example, and we'll take care of it for you."  

Vegan and vegetarian offerings include vegan jackfruit cakes; pasta prepared with the sauce of your choice; vegetarian strudel, and a vegetarian terrine made with Portobello mushrooms, peppers and squash, layered with tofu and topped with a balsamic glaze.

The Hartwood Restaurant in Indiana Township has a designated vegetarian menu that guests may request.  

“Many of the items on our vegetarian menu are also vegan, or can be easily modified to become vegan,” said General Manager John Muth. 

Menus vary with seasonal offerings, but a few recent selections included grilled portobello wrap, fettuccini pomodoro, red curry tofu and wild mushroom and asparagus risotto. Muth said the restaurant will feature a fixed menu for New Year’s Eve with vegetarian offerings. 

VegFEAST has become an annual celebration in Pittsburgh, with this year’s event slated for Sunday, Nov. 18. Leila Sleiman and Natalie Fristick founded the event in 2016 to help vegans celebrate the holidays.

“The holidays are a hard time to keep to your diet, and especially to keep to veganism when faced with holiday dinners,” Sleiman said. “Thanksgiving is supposed to be joyous, but it can be difficult when you follow a plant-based diet—we want to make it a little bit easier.”

The event sells out each year and features traditional holiday food “veganized” and made by local vegan restaurants and vendors. 

“Many of our guests tell us that this is their Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit the two have founded, Justice for Animals, and also raises funds for the Humane Animal Rescue League’s wildlife center. 

The women also sponsor VegFest in the summer, which is one of the largest vegan events in the region featuring over 200 vegan-friendly vendors.