Eat your veggies…save the planet?

Portabello Grande-Caffe Galleria

Guest blogger and vegetarian Sue Gordon writes for Bucks County Taste and Hunterdon County Taste on eating vegetarian in Bucks County and nearby.

by Sue Gordon,

This past February the FDA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a report that compared 3 different styles of eating: vegan, Mediterranean and a typical American meat-centric diet. The study concluded that an “organically grown vegan diet has the most potential health benefits… and the lowest estimated impact on resources and ecosystem quality.” Translation: a vegan diet is best for your health, and filling our plates with plants requires less land, water and energy, and produces fewer carbon-emissions than raising animals.

Mediterranean Diet

But—and here’s the interesting part—the report actually went on to recommend the Mediterranean diet: rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seafood, as the best one for Americans to adopt. Why? I can only assume it’s because the experts who wrote the report are also realists. They understand that it would probably be easier to convince Donald Trump to vote Democratic than to ask Americans to give up their beef and butter for good. And the Mediterranean diet is a great intermediate step.

I know there are a growing number of people who do try to make healthier choices at home and even when eating out. However, I’m not sure that the environmental impact of the food on their plates figures into the ordering equation. But it’s easy to make healthy, eco-friendly choices and still enjoy creative and delicious food. How? Focus on the salads and appetizer list, because that’s where the veggies generally are, as well as a significant portion of the seafood. And by choosing several smaller plates in place of an oversized meat dish, you can stick pretty close to the Mediterranean model.

Here are two popular area restaurants that have perfected the fine art of uber-appetizing appetizers, and have also taken the time to add some creative vegetarian entrées to their lunch and dinner menus.  They can help you graze like a native of sunnier climes and azure waters.

Bowman’s Tavern – New Hope

If you haven’t stopped by this popular upscale pub on River Road south of New Hope, what are you waiting for? Owners James Seward and executive chef Michael Livelsberger have crafted a menu that is perfect for grazing, and satisfying for vegetarians as well as their meat-eating friends. If you’re craving “meaty” flavor without the actual meat, go for the Mushroom Tartare, toasted crostini, slathered with creamy goat cheese and piled high with marinated wild mushrooms, then garnished with truffle aioli and pine nuts. Roasted Garlic & Lemon Hummus served with cucumber, flatbread chips, and extra virgin olive oil is another great choice. There’s also gooey, satisfying Macaroni & Cheese, several delicious salads, and a luscious house-made Veggie Burger made with hand pressed vegetables, chick peas and grains.

Mushroom Bruschetta-Bowman's Tavern

The current menu also features two full vegetarian entrées, Eggplant “Braciole” and Winter Vegetable Cassoulet, a hearty stew of roasted root veggies paired with traditional white beans and fragrant roasted garlic. I suspect those will soon drop off and more seasonal fare will be added as the weather warms and the gardens grow. Speaking of which, it won’t be long before diners will reap the benefits of Bowman Tavern’s own kitchen garden, tucked away behind the building. Think wonderful fresh salads, heirloom tomatoes, spicy peppers…

Bowman’s Tavern is located at 1600 River Road, New Hope, PA 18938. Open Sun – Thurs, 11:30 am – Midnight; Fri -Sat, 11:30 am – 1:00 am. Reservations: 215.862.2972. Live entertainment in the bar, Tues – Sat. Check their website for complete information.

Caffé Galleria – Lambertville

Charming, laid-back, artsy and very vegetarian-friendly. That’s Caffè Galleria at 23 North Union Street in beautiful downtown Lambertville. This popular local eatery—open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week—serves up their own unique version of healthy Mediterranean fare using fresh, local and mostly organic ingredients. If you just focus on appetizers and salads on the dinner menu, you will find 15 different vegetarian and/or vegan choices! What other non-vegetarian restaurant does that? The creamy Tuscan Mushroom Soup (made without actual cream) is a delight, as is the hearty Lizzy Salad, mixed baby greens tossed with garbanzo beans, artichoke hearts, green peppers and sliced avocado.

Portobello Grande-Caffe Galleria

Moving on to entrées, there are 5 vegetarian pastas: Eggplant Rolatini, Pasta Primavera, Eggplant Parm, Vodka Rigatoni, and Pasta Fra Diavolo with Tofu.  Or you can choose a house favorite like Tofu Aphrodite topped with a mélange of sautéed onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes, in a garlic and herb scented white wine sauce. The Pan Roasted Seitan with plum tomatoes, peas, cannellini beans, avocado and soy mozzarella served over a bed of organic brown rice is savory, hearty and vegan.

Lunching out? Dig into a bowl of Caffè Galleria’s spicy Vegetarian Chili, or indulge in a guilty pleasure—Seitan “Cheesesteak” smothered in sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers and topped with either regular or soy cheese. Even more veggie choices appear on the weekend brunch menu: how about Scrambled Tofu with fresh roasted peppers and baby spinach or Cheesy Polenta topped with wilted spinach and eggs? There’s even a wonderful vegan Lentil Burger on a brioche bun with creamy avocado and sun-dried tomato spread. You’ll feel healthier with every delicious bite.

Beans & Feta-Caffe Galleria

When the weather turns warm, the restaurant’s wrap-around porch is the perfect place to perch and watch the world go with a cup of espresso and a gigantic slice of cake or pie, baked fresh daily in Caffè Galleria’s sister establishment, City Market around the corner on North Main Street.

Caffé Galleria is located at 23 North Union Street, Lambertville, NJ. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sun – Thurs 7:00 am – 9 pm,; Fri – Sat., 7 am – 10 pm. Reservations: 609.397.2400 www.caffegalleria.com.


Food for Thought. If you are interested in learning more about the effect of your food choices on your health and the health of the planet, a great place to start is the website www.forksoverknives.com. It contains a link to the documentary of the same name, plus well-researched, thought-provoking articles and great vegetarian recipes. Check it out!

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