Your guide to vegan meals in Madison

Cutting out animal products has become easier than ever with ample alternatives.
vegan Italian pasta salad, vegan shrimp po’boy sandwich, Korean BBQ chix sandwich and vegan Reuben sandwich
Photo by Larry Chua
James Bloodsaw creates meat-free alternatives — think vegan Italian pasta salad, vegan shrimp po’boy sandwich, Korean BBQ chix sandwich and vegan Reuben sandwich (top left then clockwise) — for his business JustVeggiez.

Chef James Bloodsaw became vegan after his father’s death and addressing his own health fears about high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure. Before his father died, he advised Bloodsaw to make healthier choices than he had. This pushed Bloodsaw to evaluate his lifestyle choices and become vegan.

Bloodsaw and his family started JustVeggiez, a vegan catering business. Bloodsaw believes in the power of being vegan and the food he serves his customers.

Vegans do not eat any animals or animal byproducts, including honey, dairy and eggs. Being vegan can also mean you choose to avoid animal byproducts in all purchases, and it can be an ethically or environmentally based decision. There are many health benefits to becoming vegan, including decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. The diet can lead to weight loss, as animal products are often high in fat, but it depends on the choices you make. Many unhealthy foods still fall in the vegan category.

JustVeggiez focuses on the healthy side in all of the food it serves customers. When Bloodsaw decided to start the business, he realized there was a relative lack of local vegan food, and he took it upon himself to give people like him more dining options.

Bloodsaw has been vegan for seven years and says keeping up with his diet isn’t too difficult. He says it’s easier nowadays to eat vegan, citing the wide variety of tasty vegan food on the market today.

For those looking to eat more vegan meals, the Madison Area Vegans Facebook group claims to be “your lifeboat in a Midwestern sea of cheese.” Members share new vegan dishes from local restaurants and identify where to find vegan items in the area.

Animal-Friendly Dishes

Adamah Neighborhood Table

Vegan Nashville Chicken Sandwich (Photo by Justin Galler)

To give vegans a comfort food option, Adamah Neighborhood Table debuted a vegan Nashville chicken sandwich in fall 2019. Topped with a house-made spicy oil and paired with coleslaw made with vegan mayonnaise, the sandwich is so close to the real thing, you won’t miss the meat. Ben Clark, the director of dining services at the University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation, says the restaurant wanted to be accessible to the Madison vegan community and vegan cooking also pairs well with kosher cooking. ​611 Langdon St.

Bandung Indonesian Restaurant packs its dishes with flavor and makes its own tempeh in-house. Bandung’s team members expertly craft the protein substitute made from fermented soybeans — supplying it to many other local businesses. One of the most popular options is sambal goreng tempeh, which comes with green beans, potatoes, lemongrass and an Indonesian sweet and spicy curry. ​600 Williamson St.

Everly’s mission since opening has been to include tasty dishes that anyone can enjoy, no matter their dietary restrictions. The vegan and gluten-free butternut squash and forbidden rice curry is a staple on the menu made with coconut milk, cashews, cilantro and Fresno chiles. Top it off with seared tofu for a meal that will make you feel satiated. ​2701 Monroe St.

Liliana’s chef and owner Dave Heide says a favorite vegan dish at his Fitchburg restaurant is the in-house seitan. The menu changes, but the most recent rendition rests seitan on a bed of charred seasonal vegetables and roasted new potatoes, tossed in red pepper coulis and finished with chimichurri. Heide says he wants to provide flavorful and protein-packed dishes for all his vegan customers. 2951 ​Triverton Pike Drive, Fitchburg

vegan meatballer

Vegan Meatballer (Courtesy of Salvatore’s)

Madison vegans can get their pizza fix at Salvatore’s Livingston. It offers the typical pizza toppings and choices, but the Vegan Meatballer is a standout. The pie comes topped with house-made vegan meatballs, Daiya mozzarella, red sauce, muffuletta mix, yellow onion, green pepper and basil. All other Salvatore’s locations also have vegan offerings. 10 N. Livingston St.

For those following a vegan lifestyle, breakfast can be a challenge without eggs, milk, bacon, sausage and butter. But Willalby’s Cafe has risen to the challenge. This Madison diner offers a biscuits and gravy option for vegans. The homemade biscuits in this dish are animal product-free and topped with mushroom gravy, grilled broccoli and tomato and served with a side of hash browns. ​1351 Williamson St.

Keeping Vegans in Mind

Migrants — located right off the West Beltline Highway and opened at the end of 2019 by Oscar Villarreal, chef behind the now-closed Fuegos Steak & Tapas — balances its menu with both vegan and meaty options. While some restaurants may scatter a couple vegan dishes throughout the menu, Migrants tries to even things out with an almost equal number of meat and veggie meals.

With seven different vegetable “proteins” for tacos, vegan patrons have plenty of options. Pick from roasted cauliflower, broccoli adobo, chorizo spiced quinoa, squash, portabella mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts or papas y rajas (cumin-roasted potatoes with bell peppers and onions).

Villarreal wanted to make sure there were vegan offerings at Migrants because he believes there aren’t enough options for vegans. Some of his family members are vegan or vegetarian, so on a personal level, he understands the need for tasty options at Migrants.

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