We live in a new world, one where White Castle has even conceded that some people today don't care for meat. As of last year, an estimated 16 million Americans have nixed meat from their diet, about 5 percent of the total U.S. population. Of that total, about 1 million people say they've ditched animal products altogether and now call themselves "vegan."
So, chances are — as evidenced by the growing offering of restaurants in town with veg-friendly options — plenty of metro Detroiters fall into either of those categories. If you're new to the game, however, it might be hard to find a decent restaurant serving delicious fare. Here's a rundown that, at the very least, should work as a primer for vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants around the area.
Brooklyn Street Local
Open: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday;
9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
1266 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Brooklyn carries daily omelette specials, one always friendly for vegetarians. Vegans can find solace in the tofu scramble breakfast; please, do yourself a favor and mix in some of the available roasted veggies. Go wild here with a traditional breakfast of eggs, tempeh bacon, potatoes, and toast, or the delicious banana walnut pancakes topped with Carncross Sugarbush maple syrup, also vegan-friendly.
Russell Street Deli
Open: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday
2465 Russell St,, Detroit
Understand up front that, on Saturdays, when Eastern Market is popping, you're going to experience some sort of wait here. But it's worth it. As much as some of the sandwiches (including the TLT!) and Russell's daily soup specials deserve mentions, personally, we dig it for their breakfast offerings. The mix of omelettes here is far out (try the roasted vegetable with chevre), and the made-in-house pancakes should make you feel silly for ever considering IHOP in the past. Vegans can get down on the vegetarian hash (nix the eggs, and tell the server you're vegan) and add Panda tofu (which, by the way, is cooked perfectly), or, typically, we've found Russell carries a bomb-ass homemade vegan waffle. Mix that with some fruit, and you'll be good to go.
Lunch Box Deli
Open: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
17018 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park
There's a parade of options here: more than 80 sandwiches, a half-dozen entrees, a dozen salads, a handful of soups — and everything can be made vegan or vegetarian upon request. Sandwiches include the Turkey Taco Crunch, the Tony Danza Extravaganza, and the Chicado, which includes avocado, swiss, tomato, and, because you asked, tofu, on a baked rustic roll.
Open: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday
22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Vegheads can have a ball at Anita's Kitchen, with a menu that's littered with a 'v,' signifying "go ahead and eat this, now." For starters, there's your standard picks: falafel, stuffed grape leaves, and Anita's pita pizza, including a phoenician-style with garlic, roasted eggplant, tomatoes, red onion, and mint. An array of salads are also available, along with a spectacular pair of soups, lentil or black bean.
Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
4710 Cass Ave., Detroit
or 6407 Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield
Chinese cuisine, pocketed with some thai plates, Shangri-La's menu is full of vegetarian-friendly options. We typically drop by the Midtown Detroit location, a small, quaint establishment located near Wayne State University. Try the braised fried tofu with black mushroom and vegetables, or chinese mushroom with baby bok choy. For vegans, ask for the vegetable soup with vegan broth. Or try a classic like vegetable-fried rice without eggs, and add a side of chinese broccoli off the dim sum menu, but nix the oyster sauce in lieu of garlic sauce.
Detroit Vegan Soul
Open: 11 a.m-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
8029 Agnes St., Detroit
Opened in 2013, this is the cream of the crop, baby: A 100 percent vegan-friendly soul food restaurant in Detroit's historic Indian Village neighborhood. Detroit Vegan Soul has a kickass brunch menu, but its dinners provide ample opportunities for substitutes that some vegans perhaps still dream of: seitan pepper steak served over brown rice with a side of sesame broccoli, "catfish" tofu served with steamed potatoes, a BBQ tofu sandwich that'll knock you off your feet, and a parade of smoothies if you're looking for something to run out the door with.
PJ's Lager House
Open for brunch: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit
There's plenty of places around town that offer brunch, but PJ's menu consistently serves up great-tasting fare, and has a well-rounded set of options. Donna's scrambled eggs come with cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, and topped with parsley, while the Lazy Leah Frittata packs a punch for anyone hung over. Vegans: the tofu scramble rivals PJ's neighbors at Brooklyn Street Local, but if you want to go out on a limb, get the vegan biscuits and gravy. Side note: If you remember, see if you can bring in a coffee cup of your own. PJ's set of cups are, well, rather small.
BONUS FOR VEGANS
Pizza: We all know making a pizza at home can be difficult as all hell, but here's a trick some vegans might not be aware of: Buddy's Pizza is your saving grace. Buddy's crust and sauce is vegan-friendly and they also offer Daiya cheese, if that's your thing.