Going vegan was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Hands down, no questions asked. I tell people all the time that going vegan is not hard as you think. Trust me. I feel good, eat better (you've seen my Instagram posts) and enjoy the many health benefits that a vegan diet provides. Simply put, it takes research, an open mind and preparation to take the plunge into this lifestyle. Here is a quick rundown of why it might be a great time to go vegan starting next year.
There Has Never Been a More Convenient Time
Take a stroll around your nearest grocery store, and you will quickly find that there are plenty of healthy plant-based options available. The produce department has always been a staple for plant-based diets, but now other areas of the grocery store assist with this lifestyle change. Metro Market makes it easy for vegans and vegetarians to find specialty items including vegan mayonnaise, Tofurky products and seitan in their specially marked vegetarian section. Head to to the center aisle and you'll find items like Bush's Baked Beans' Vegetarian option and other easy-to-understand labels. Not to mention, it is cheap. I bought $100 worth of groceries last week, and I do not plan on going back to the grocery store for at least three weeks. Want to give this method a try? Check out "How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family " by Steve and Annette Economides.
Don't want to cook every day of the week but want to enjoy delicious vegan food? Most big cities have a couple vegan options available, and if you are lucky to live in Milwaukee, there are a ton of options including Beerline Cafe, Celesta, Cafe Manna, Urban Beets, On the Bus, Impossible Burgers at numerous restaurants and Comet Cafe. Need I go on?
Helping the Earth Is More Important Than Ever
I opted to follow a plant-based lifestyle for health and wellness reasons but quickly realized the positive impact that my lifestyle was having on our planet. The amount of water, trees and animals that are being saved are astronomical. Not having a car is one way to save the earth, but not eating meat or dairy is an even more efficient and impactful way to help the environment. Rising sea levels, pollution and other environment issues are the direct result of our food choices and stress these meat and dairy companies can put on the environment. While I personally don't believe in shaming people who aren't vegan, I do believe there is something to be said about helping the same earth you explore and live on everyday.
There Are So Many Opportunities to Meet More People
Going vegan opens up a whole new world of spices, foods and people to connect with about this lifestyle. Without making it sound like you are joining a cult, you truly can meet a lot of people and learn about their journey and why they decided to give up animal products. There's nothing better than bonding over a common interest with someone. Think working out, sports, religious gatherings and of course--food. Plant-based food. The app Meetup is a great way to meet like-minded people, and the Milwaukee vegans is a prime example of a group to consider joining. I have also hosted meetups throughout the city like the one I recently had at Urban Beets Cafe in late November. At the end of the day, I just want to have fun with food, meet great people and live a happy life. Once I became vegan that became even easier. I'd love to share more tips, recipes and anything that might be helpful as you embrace ths plant-based lifestyle.
1. Happy Hour Changing
A lot of you all might be familiar with Rice N Roll's happy hour that runs on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Same time. However the original happy hour special has been half off all rolls. To make things easier for the staff and production, it will be changed to buy two rolls, get one free. If you do the math on say three rolls, it is virtually the same, but this is much easier on the kitchen staff. No official word on when this change is happening, but it is something to think about.
2. Family Over Everything
There are plenty of restaurants in the area that are run by restaurant groups including Hospitality Democracy which operates the likes of Holey Moley Doughnuts, Blue Bat And Tequilaria and Smoke Shack. Rice N Roll is operated by three siblings and their cousin and head chef, Tony. Other customers and food bloggers have told me about the exceptional hospitality they have experienced at this spot, and mine was no different. While I was able to eat at Rice N Roll when it was closed and was the only party eating, their attention to detail was spectacular and the camaraderie between staff members was palpable.
3. New Digs in Tosa Soon
They are opening up a new restaurant in Wauwatosa in February. While the news surrounding the name and concept has yet to be decided, those on the west side of Milwaukee will be thankful for a similar space to dine. I'll let you all know when word is out on name and restaurant concept!
4. Vegan and Gluten-Free Friendly
As you might have noticed in my Instagram post, Rice N Roll has a plethora of plant-based options to try, and it has been that way since July 2018. From their basil thai fried rice with tofu and veggies to their grass noodle stir fry, there are thai and sushi options that are legit for vegans. I tried around six items during my visit, and they are stellar. Be sure to mention your dietary restrictions, and Rice N Roll can easily accommodate you! Thai iced tea with soy milk? Check. Gluten free and vegan soy sauce with stir fry? You got it!
5. They have a new vegan sushi roll that has yet to be named!
One roll I ate during my visit was wrapped in white rice with a boatload of vegetables and topped with hash browns! The texture combination was satisfying in every way and matched the flavors that came from this roll. As for the name, I was experimenting with names while eating, but nothing worth writing about came to me. Have a name? DM me on IG !
It was a lazy Saturday a couple weeks ago. My plant-based friend Kristin and I were starving and looking for a place to eat in town. I did not have many places in mind, as there are only so many spots that serve truly vegan brunch. It was a little past noon so lunch was on Kristin's mind and lucky for us, she had just been to Blue Bat a week before and raved about it. To be honest, I thought she was exaggerating about the food and her experience, which I told her after discussing the possibility of going to Blue Bat. Don't think I'm gossiping on this blog folks. Hearing and more importantly, seeing, a moroccan cauliflower dish with jasmine rice, tahini cream, golden raisins and much more appear on my phone intrigued me. A lot. I could not guess what this place was when she sent me this photo, but turns out I was in for a real treat from start to finish.
Hospitality Democracy dons well-known restaurants that you may know. Smoke Shack, Holey Moley, Swig, AJ Bombers, to name a few. As you might have figured given the mention, Blue Bat is the newest addition to Hospitality Democracy's already stacked superteam. Come to think of it, this spot is a perfect addition, because tacos and tequila were not really in this restaurant group's arsenal. But now it is. This spot located on 249 N Water St in the Historic Third Ward is here to stay and is primed to make a lot of noise in the restaurant game around Milwaukee.
This spot screams trendy when you walk in, especially with a sign that reads "Good Times." The ceilings were pretty high, and there was a lot of room in this place. Blue Bat also has a downstairs bar with additional seating and a small patio area. Given that this restaurant is next to the Milwaukee River, the location is prime for Third Ward voyeurs and enthusiasts. This spot has extremely clean lines, wooden tables and a very modern aesthetic. There were a lot of windows around this venue, opening it up even more and adding a lot of natural light. I really enjoyed the look of this spot, and hoped I would enjoy the food just as much.
Kristin and I surveyed the menu and the fried brussel sprouts caught my eye as she discussed it. I don't even eat brussel sprouts but I'm usually game for anything fried. It also came with pecans, a spicy aioli and a few other toppings. Per usual, the cheese was eliminated from this dish and was an easy change. These brussel sprouts, more on the salty side, paired PERFECTLY with the aioli. I almost fell out as I ate these veggies. Yes, they were fried but who cares. they were crisp to a perfection and an easy starter dish. We also ordered their bag o' chips with seasonal salsa. You can also get guacamole with the homemade, in-house tortilla chips that legit come in a brown paper bag. I thought it was funny how literal the menu listing was for these chips. This salsa combination (comes in two giants bowls) was also top notch. The chips were hot and fresh, and the salsas were plentiful for two people. This is important because salsa goes fast, and some places like to skimp on this foodie favorite. These two dishes exceeded my expectations that had been somewhat influenced by Kristin's prior review on Blue Bat. I was happy and ready for the cauliflower dish, especially since I make it a ton.
Huge side note: They have over 160 tequila flavors to choose from and can come as a hawaiian ice or another kind popular option. As you all know, I don't drink much but wanted to mention that since their name includes tequila and is somewhat of a calling card for them.
The main menu consists of tacos, bowls and other worldly-inspired eats that are not your typical mexican foods. While there are some staples there, they seem to do a good job of mixing up spices and options. I do like how you can turn a taco option into a burrito bowl for $15. These bowls are legit, as I had o take my food home. That never happens with me even when I eat a lot of other food so this is saying a lot. The moroccan cauliflower dish was highly anticipated and it is easily, easily a top 5 dish that I have ever had in Milwaukee. Not even being dramatic either. It came out piping hot and was fresh in every way. The veggies were visibly pan-roasted versus thrown on a hot oily skillet for two minutes. the attention to detail was phenomenal, as the dollops of tahini cream even worked great, and I am not a huge fan of tahini.
The toasted almonds, raisins, spices, onions, jasmine rice with this cauliflower changed me. There was so much flavor, a lot of ingredients to enjoy and it was just such a different experience unlike I have had before. That dish could have easily been a mexican-inspired cauliflower dish, but it was not in the slightest. The cauliflower was just tender enough where you can bite into it without it being too tough. Perfect. Kristin chose the mushroom bowl that came with rice, peppers, onions and similar fixings as my bowl. She admitted that the cauliflower bowl was better and would get that again next time. All of this food came to $46 total, and this kind of steal should be illegal. I had dinner that night too. I was so full, but not to a point where I felt sick. It was more so, I got my money's worth through the portion sizes which are not small whatsoever, taste was pheneonal and variety of options to try in the run long. Alex, our server, seemed to juggle our table with others as it began to pick up during the busy afternoon lunch shift. He was very attentive, and was well informed about all of the drinks and food options and questions.
I will be back soon with my fan boy hat on looking to chown down on some eats in Blue Bat and Tequilaria. An encore performance is on the horizon, and I hope you get a chance to experience a fresh, fun spot in Milwaukee's Third Ward like I did. Hats off to Blue Bat!