Have you ever been vegan-curious? Flexitarians are not necessarily interested in the level of commitment required, but still attracted to some aspects of a lifestyle that limits meat and in some cases dairy from their diets. If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck because it’s never been easier to find healthy foods thanks to a wave of plant-based, vegetarian and vegan food options that are springing up in Fort Worth and beyond. 

The term “vegan” was first coined in 1944 after some members of a vegetarian society decided to form their own organization and combined the first and last two letters of the word “vegetarian” to form the new word “vegan.” So, what exactly is vegan vs plant-based vs vegetarian? 

In addition to not eating meat, vegans also refrain from eating dairy products, eggs, and anything else that comes from animals. This can be for many reasons, ranging from health, ethical and spiritual concerns. 

Vegetarians don’t eat meat but are open to dairy products. Lastly plant-based diets typically emphasize eating a diet primarily from vegetables and little processed foods. Veganism encompasses ethical concerns that can be more strict for some. Whereas in plant-based diets, there can be leniency with some non-meat animal products such as honey for example.

Amber F. Evans, local yoga instructor and vegetarian for over a decade, loves the convenience offered by so many restaurants specializing in vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods.

“As a busy mom and wife, I love how accessible it is now to grab good foods that cater to a variety of eating preferences to-go,” Amber said. “A few years ago, before it was popular, it was difficult for me to eat out because everyone’s idea of vegetarian options used to be salads. This boom we’re seeing now is phenomenal!” 

Vegan restaurants making a difference in Fort Worth

Barbacoa and carne asada are two of Monterrey, Mexico’s most treasured foods. 

Mariachi’s Dine-In, at 5724 Locke Avenue in Fort Worth’s Ridglea Hills neighborhood, has won various awards for its traditional and vegan-friendly Monterrey street food -inspired dishes. I first became acquainted with the small taco joint with a cult following in the back of a gas station. 

I recently spoke with owner Ashley Miller after a quick stop at Mariachi’s, which has plenty of space for dining, cooking and great drinks at the bar. The menu has also expanded since relocating. On this visit I tried all vegan fare because as a carnivore, I was particularly interested in tasting her version of birria and carne asada tacos. The birria notably comes with a flavorful consommé, the liquid remaining after the tender meat and peppers have been braised for hours – and leaves behind a carmine-colored broth that is customarily used for dipping the tacos into before you take a bite. Surprisingly, Mariachi’s has found a way to mimic the smells and taste very similar to the real thing. 

The vegan carne asada is also a great meatless option for those looking to substitute for the “real thing.” Browse an updated menu for other foods available, but I do recommend the vegan elotes as a side. It does have a slight aftertaste that I have found is common in many vegan cheeses. I even make my own at home and it’s always apparent, so this isn’t solely a criticism of Mariachi’s. It’s a particular taste I’m sensitive to in all plant-based cheeses that I’ve sampled. I still enjoyed this dish composed of corn, vegan crema, cashew nut-based cotija cheese, lime, chile and a spicy Valentina hot sauce. 

Two doors down from Mariachi’s Dine-In in the strip mall is another meatless restaurant.

Pizza Verde offers something for everyone: An inclusive menu that is 100% plant-based and has options for everyone, including dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. Pictured is the sun-dried- pesto base, house-made almond mozzarella, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion and feta. Soy free and gluten-free on the 10″ cauliflower thin crust. (Courtesy photo | Pizza Verde Facebook page)

Pizza Verde prominently displays its plant-based label on its outdoor sign. Its happy hour menu is perfect for those trying to get a taste of the local eatery’s food and alcohol choices without paying full price. Customers dining-in can partake of these special prices from 4-7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The pizzeria’s flavors range from more traditional takes on standard pepperoni and “meat” lovers to the wildly eclectic kimchi and jalapeno popper options. Gluten-free substitutions can be made with its crusts for an additional $2 per pie. 

Lastly, a ghost kitchen with plenty of vegan-friendly options is Fort Worth Food Works, located at 3004 Cullen St., near the intersection with North University Drive. I’ve personally visited Von’s Coffee Shoppe and unlike the name implies they offer more selections and they’re all vegan. Make sure you check out the coffee, pastries and other breakfast items. This unique venue has at least five all-veggie restaurants that will have you running to place your orders and pick up ASAP. Veggie Vegan Karma, It’s a Vegan Wrap, K’s Vegan Tacos and The Vegan Sweet Spot. 

Know any great vegan restaurants you’d recommend I visit? Email me at deah.mitchell@thefortworthreport.org . I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 31 to clarify more clearly what a plant-based diet includes.

Deah Mitchell writes about more than food. You can email her at deah.mitchell@fortworthreport.org.

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Deah Berry Mitchell

Deah Berry Mitchell

Deah Berry Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Black Group, a multimedia company whose core business is preserving Black cultural history through writing, public speaking, tourism and technology....