VEGAN DINING HAS GONE FROM being a niche specialty to a global trend, especially in the last few years. It wasn’t that long ago that, with the exception of some small “fringe” groups, the concept of “vegan” hadn’t yet entered the public consciousness, and certainly the word hadn’t yet entered the everyday culinary vocabulary. It was hard enough being a vegetarian back then, especially when dining out—options in many places were limited to how many alfalfa sprouts you wanted. Dining out as a committed vegan was nearly impossible.
How things have changed.
People now actually know and understand what a vegetarian (one who eats no meat products) or a vegan (no meat, no dairy or egg products or ingredients) is. The number of people identifying themselves as vegan or vegetarian seems to be growing exponentially, and the Hudson Valley is riding the crest of that wave for lots of good reasons. Plant-based diets go hand-in-hand with farm-to-table dining, and the valley is a national leader in that trend. Healthful eating fuels the active, outdoor-minded folks who live here or are drawn to visit the region. And the growth and marketing of house-made specialty items and delicacies using locally sourced ingredients is well established throughout the valley and adds vibrancy and identity to our communities. The eight restaurants profiled here represent just a sampling of what’s available in the Hudson Valley. Each is unique, but they have a lot in common. Dietary restrictions, including true gluten-free preparation, are thoughtfully addressed. The vast majority of vegan restaurants source fresh (primarily organic) produce primarily from local farms that are committed to fair labor practices. A trait common to most owners and chefs is their compassion for animals and a belief that plant-based diets are better for the environment while being more healthful for humans than a meat-based diet. Finally, all agree that “vegan” food is simply food, as nature intended it: healthful, whole, fresh and, above all, delicious.