Plant-based meals so good in Petaluma, you won’t miss the meat

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Whether for the sake of personal health or the health of our planet, more and more Americans are going meatless, at least on occasion. Meatless Monday, an advertising campaign launched in 2003 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School For Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, seeks to decrease meat consumption by 15 percent in America. Not that meat consumption is going anywhere, studies show the average American today consumes 75 more pounds of meat each year than Americans of 50 years ago. For those who are putting aside meat, Petaluma has a plethora of places that offer protein-packed, plant-based meals. Many of these can also be ordered vegan, for those who avoid animal products all together.

Faux burgers

Head to Pub Republic for a veggie burger so decadent, you are sure to leave full. The burger is basically a falafel, made with chickpeas and a heavy blend of spices. It comes topped with pickled onions, avocado, sprouts and green goddess dressing, with a heaping pile of crisp sweet potato fries ($14.50). While this patty packs a punch in flavor, it loses a few points because it’s quick to fall apart with each bite. Pub Republic’s Brussel sprouts tacos, made with a tangy white wine sauce, cheese and toasted almonds ($12.50) also deserve a meatless mention.

Address: 3120 Lakeville Highway

The texture of the veggie burger at Speakeasy is super satisfying, as it doesn’t crumble to pieces with every bite, a common issue with plant-based patties. Paired with the signature spicy ketchup, this burger brings a nice heat. It’s served alongside a small order of fries for $11. The coconut-crusted plantain tacos ($5 each), vegan BLT made from fried tempeh ($12) and edamame hummus ($6) also offer a punch of protein without the meat.

Address: 139 Petaluma Blvd. N.

The “Impossible Burgers” are all the rage, so named because it’s supposedly impossible for the diner to tell it’s not meat. I’m not sure that’s true, but they are pretty tasty and full of protein. McNear’s serves its with jack cheese, caramelized onions, pickles and 1000 Island dressing ($14.95). Burgers come with a choice of fries, salad, slaw or soup. Also consider the California sandwich, with avocado, sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, jack cheese and chipotle-basil aioli ($13.50).

Address: 23 Petaluma Blvd. N.

Bean-based bites

With bread as good as the loaves baked downtown at Della Fattoria, it’s no surprise the toast is also tops. The Rancho Gordo beans on rosemary-Meyer lemon toast ($10) may not look like much on the plate, but the creamy yet smoky beans mixed with the tart citrus in the bread covers a full spectrum of flavors. For a heartier winter meal, try the polenta with seasonal vegetables ($15).

Address: 143 Petaluma Blvd. N.

Chili Joe’s opened with the intent to offer something for everything, even vegans. The vegan chili with beans and bold spices is a warm comfort on cold, rainy days. Order it with onions, cheddar cheese or oyster crackers on top for $3.95 a cup, or $8.25 a bowl. Meatless sides, which can be ordered ala carte, include fries, tater tots, jalapeno slaw and spicy cornbread with whipped honey butter.

Address: 312 Petaluma Blvd. S.

For a veggie burrito so big it can’t help but fill you, head to Mi Pueblo (either location). With grilled vegetables, beans, rice, cheese and gaucamole for just $8.50, it might be the best price per value in town. Try it wet with a spicy drizzle of tomato sauce on top.

Address: 108 Kentucky St.

Savory soups

Those looking to beat the winter chill can head to Pho Sonoma for a steaming bowl of tofu and fresh vegetables in a spicy lemongrass broth ($12). Like pho, it’s served with a plate of mint, basil, fresh jalapeno and bean sprouts to add spice and crunch to the fragrant broth. Look to the specials board for a version of this same soup that includes noodles. It’s one of more than 20 varieties of pho on the menu, several of which are vegetarian.

Address: 140 Second St.

A hearty cup of minestrone soup, with beans and fresh vegetables in a rich tomato broth, is a perfect winter lunch. Caffe Giostra offers a cup for $5.95 in a simple setting. Pair it with a side salad and/or some garlic bread for a more complete meal.

Address: 1390 N. McDowell Blvd.

Yia Yia’s The Grateful Greek offers a lentil soup made from homemade stock with green lentils, garlic and vegetables (cup: $4.25, bowl: $6.50). It’s vegan unless you add the dollop of tzatziki. Try it with a side of Greek fries topped with lemon juice, feta and olive oil.

Address: 10007 Main St., Penngrove

International inspiration

Swedish food may be remembered its funny fish dishes, but our local Stockhome offers a few meatless options that stick to the ribs. The veggie and falafel plate includes a tangy tomato sauce, house-made pickles, garlic yogurt and a choice of basmati rice or pomme frites ($12). The falafel wrap comes with pickled onions, roasted chilies and a grilled pita ($8).

Address: 220 Western Ave.

Lunchette is known for its plant-based options, which can be carried out from its 4th Street location. The warm grain tahini bowl includes sweet potatoes, spiced chickpeas, cucumber-dill carrot salad and date molasses over a bed of rice ($11.45). Or try it with kimchi, broccoli-miso salad, nori and mushrooms.

Address: 25 4th St.

Pearl brings the flavors of North Africa with its shakshuka ($16). It’s all about the spice in this traditional dish of chickpeas in a tomato stew topped with halloumi cheese and a baked egg, served in a skillet with a side of pita. The Israeli breakfast, with green hummus, Meyer lemon marmalade and spinach tzatziki, ($12) is also not to be missed.

Address: 500 1st St.

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