By Kiki Whartenby
This past spring, Kiki Whartenby (10) decided to become vegan. This dietary lifestyle is hard to manage anywhere, especially in a city known for its Barbecue. Find out all about the delicious, vegan foods that Kiki is able to find all throughout Memphis.
It’s a shock to most people when I first reveal that I’m vegan. I am bombarded with the questions “What do you even eat?”, “Don’t you miss food?”, and other predictable questions from many meat eaters. To me, being vegan means that I can not eat anything that comes from an animal including meat, dairy, and eggs but when it comes to honey, I believe it is okay to eat- this is a controversial topic among the vegan community. One may wonder why I became vegan in the first place and that is due to the animal cruelty from within the major corporations. After being made aware of how badly animals are treated on these giant, mass production farms, I decided that the least I could do for these innocent creatures is stop purchasing and eating the products completely, which reduces the demand. Although this action may seem small when involving only one person, if enough people join to fight for a change it creates a large impact. I will admit that being vegan can be a challenge at times, but luckily I have encountered a vast array of options that satisfy my dietary needs throughout this growing city.
Memphis offers a surprising amount of restaurants that serve vegan friendly food, but my favorites are Casablanca and Imagine Vegan Cafe. Casablanca is a Middle Eastern restaurant with locations in East Memphis and Midtown. Although their menu is filled with plenty of meat options, they also have delicious and fresh hummus and falafel-a Middle Eastern dish of spiced, mashed chickpeas formed into balls and deep-fried. I eat Casablanca at least once a week. On the way home after a long day of school, there’s nothing I enjoy more than stopping by Casablanca to pick up my usual to-go order which consists of the hummus and falafel platter, a falafel big mac, and a hot tea. Also, I would like to point out that their tea is by far the best in Memphis. Sweetened with honey, lemon, and sage, it’s incredible. Casablanca is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal with my friends without any of us having to sacrifice or work around our different diets.
Imagine Vegan Cafe is an all vegan restaurant located in Cooper Young. Their menu is filled with options that one would find at any other typical restaurant, including chicken tenders, onion rings, and even a double bacon cheeseburger; the only difference is that these are made using all vegan ingredients. Although some may be intimidated by these foods being all vegan, I recommend trying them because I would argue that they taste almost exactly the same as the real deal. Getting protein into my vegan diet can be difficult, especially when going out with friends, but Imagine Vegan Cafe allows me to eat foods of sustenance.
Although those are my two favorites, there are many other places that have done very well accommodating vegans. Lyfe Kitchen has many delicious vegan main dishes as well as fresh baked vegan chocolate chip cookies that’ll melt in your mouth. Cosmic Coconut, an all vegan juice bar, is also a good place to go. They have tasty drinks as well as a killer grilled cheese made with Daiya vegan cheese. It might surprise you to know that Pyros allows you to choose Daiya cheese rather than regular cheese when building a pizza. Even Huey’s, a restaurant highly acclaimed for their burgers and cheese fries, has a great veggie burger suitable for vegans. But be careful because it is easy to get confused and order Huey’s black bean burger, which contains eggs and therefore is not vegan. The best place for vegans to grab a sweet treat is Muddy’s. They have the best vegan cupcakes in town.
There are so many more vegan options in Memphis than you might initially think. As a vegan, I consider myself lucky to be a part of a community that can accommodate my restrictive diet. It makes me happy to see that, not just the all-vegan restaurants, but restaurants all over Memphis are making the effort to serve vegan food. If you are considering going vegan, which has worked quite well for me, it is nice to know that Memphis is here to support that choice.