In 1980, a vegan living in Forest Grove, Oregon, describing himself as a teacher, naturalist and hippie, began a company specializing in made from scratch Tempeh. That company eventually expanded and in 1995 introduced the world to its Holiday Roast, Tofurky. The Tofurky Vegetarian Roast helped the food brand grow and introduced a lot of families to the idea of vegan and vegetarianism.
The company’s success also helped to usher in a wave of newer vegetarian brands like Impossible Foods, Morning Star, and Beyond Meat. Now the company sells over 35 meatless products throughout the world, confirming the product introduction was a hit…for some. Tofurkey, and companies like it are trying to pull in an audience not geared towards meatless eating. Take for example, Impossible Food’s slogan “We Are Meat.” The campaign is for a burger that “bleeds” due to peas with beet juice. Or Beyond Burger’s patty that is designed to look and cook like beef. The goal is to attract people that want to reduce their consumption of meat without leaving behind the taste and look of it-and they are succeeding.
You can find many meatless alternatives in grocery stores and fast-food chains all over the world, but vegan and vegetarianism is not new. Early records of vegetarianism go back as far as the 9th century in India.
This means that for well over 1000 years, cultures have thrived creating and cultivating meatless dishes without the idea of animal flesh even needing to be mimicked. For a lot of people that have practiced vegetarianism or veganism their whole life, the idea of trying to eat something that taste like meat has no interest to them. As the meatless world expands, it’s important that these cultures take the forefront in the conversation because good food is good food, and recipes that have been developed over thousands of years should not be ignored.
These days there are options for those trying to get exposed to the meatless lifestyle.
For a city as diverse as Houston, there are plenty of dishes to choose from, whether you’re looking to ease your way into some of the newer faux meat alternatives, or go for some older, time-tested, dishes, the city has something for everyone. Options in Houston include items that will appeal to vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat eaters. Whether you are just getting started on your vegetarian journey, you dabble in the occasional meatless Monday, or you are a full-blown vegan, Houston has a dish for you.
Here are some of the restaurants showcasing vegan and vegetarian food in the city.
No list about vegan or vegetarian food would be complete without including food from India, whose vegan and vegetarian tradition goes back centuries. The name of the restaurant means “food offering made to royalty,” which the restaurant in a sense does, as it offers a fine dining experience for those looking to taste traditional Indian cuisine. The restaurant is one of five with its other locations being found in Mumbai, Kochi, Prune, and Dubai. Maharaja Bhog has a Thali Restaurant which offers an unlimited sit-down buffet with table service and a daily changing menu, an Indian Bistro for those that want a quicker meal, and a meal box service for those that want food on the go.
Houston Sauce Co., Houston Sauce Pit, Mo Better Brews, Sauce Co Shoppette
Houston Sauce Co. is a collection of restaurants run by husband-and-wife team Courtney and Chasitie Lindsay. Starting off as a hot sauce company and then expanding into a BBQ pit, the business took a turn when the couple became vegan. The change to a vegan menu on a BBQ truck proved to be an unlikely success, helping the two expand their venture into a vegan storefront called the Sauce Co Shoppette, a vegan BBQ trailer named the Sauce Pit, a food truck called Houston Sauce Co, and most recently, a vegan breakfast restaurant called Mo’ Better Brews, specializing in coffee, vegan brunch, and vinyl.
Meeks Vegan Pizza
With offerings like the CBD infused Big Chill Pizza, mini stuffed peppers with Beyond Sausage, and NYC Italian ice, Meek’s Vegan Pizza is trying to help those with a craving for the pie, but without meat. There are faux meat options like The Meathead Pizza, which has everything that fans of a meat lovers pizza would come to expect, while also offering items like The Greek Freak Pizza with a collection of peppers and onions over vegan mozzarella.
Sunshine’s Vegetarian Deli
Sunshine’s Health Food Store and Vegetarian Deli offers a series of salads, fresh juices, and other vegetarian options. Opened in 1983 by Vergis “Sunshine” Bourgeois it was one of the first health food stores serving raw and cooked vegetarian dishes in Houston. Stop in for their black bean burger, Cooked Kale 7 cornbread or one of their various wraps and wash it all down with one of their 26 freshly squeezed juices. Sunshine’s is also a health food store, so if you are looking for various types of soaps, oils or elderberry syrups they have them available.
Soul Food Vegan
Sitting on Emancipation in the middle of the city is Soul Food Vegan, the brainchild of Chef Taliek and Chad Cossey. Chef Taliek’s goal is to teach healthy eating practices and help people transition into veganism by preparing traditional soul food cuisine without meat. Soul Food Vegan offers traditional offerings like Mac N’ Cheese, red beans & rice, collard greens, and dirty rice while also offering nontraditional plates like BBQ Mushrooms. They also offer a series of desserts and kid’s meals like spaghetti, and a few fruit smoothies.
Want to try out vegan food but don’t want to give up classics like Al Pastor or Carne Asada? One of your best bets would be to try out Korny Vibes. Located on Westheimer, the restaurant specializes in American style appetizers like mozzarella sticks and onion rings, but their main draw would be their burgers and tacos. Pair those items with drinks like their freshly blended watermelon or pineapple juices, their series of shakes and floats, or an iced latte. Korny Vibes will help anybody entering the vegetarian world keep eating Mexican and American classics.
Green Seed Vegan
Matti Merrell and her husband Rodney Perry started their food venture a decade ago, moving from a food truck to a restaurant sitting on the corner of Almeda and Wheeler Ave. Their menu is 100% vegan and soy free. They offer a collection of paninis, wraps, and raw vegan options that will satisfy those looking to get deeper into the meatless diet. They also have several smoothie choices if you are just looking for a refreshing drink. Green Seed Vegan celebrated it’s ten-year anniversary back in March. If you get a chance, stop in and taste the food that has kept many Houstonians happy and healthy for the last decade.
Chef Kenny’s Vegan Asian Cuisine
Trying out the meatless lifestyle, but don’t want to miss out on the tasty Asian food that you’re use to? You’re in luck because so many of the Asian restaurants in the community offer vegan and vegetarian dishes that have been popular for hundreds of years. If you’re looking for a lot of the Asian American staples that have developed here over the last hundred years, then look no further than Chef Kenny’s Asian Vegan. Offering favorites like Orange Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Coconut Shrimp, and Beef with Broccoli will help anyone trying to make the transition to vegetarianism keep eating the food they love. Kenny’s also offers a collection of vegan sushi rolls, vegan hand rolls, and even vegan sushi nigiri.
Loving Hut is an international chain restaurant with locations in San Francisco, Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. There are many Loving Hut locations here in the United States, each operating with an independant menu. The overall focus of the company is to provide healthy food alternatives to the masses. Even though the menu can vary vastly from location to location, here in Houston the Loving Hut location offers Golden Rolls, Golden Wontons, Pho, Hot Pot, Burgers, Wraps, Fried Rice, Noddle dishes, and other entrees.
The restaurant is a play off the single from Drake’s early mixtape, So Far Gone, where the rapper introduced himself as an artist blurring the lines between Hip Hop and R&B. This food truck’s goal is to blur and mix the lines between Houston and Atlanta but, with a vegan style. Try out their burgers, wraps or loaded fries.
Govinda’s Vegetarian Cuisine
This restaurant is located by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness temple in the Garden Oaks area of Houston. Offering a buffet of Indian dishes, Govinda’s prepares daily vegetarian cuisine with an all-vegan menu on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The menu is filled with different types of tofu, Masala, Paneer dishes, rice, fresh roti, and more.