It’s not easy being a vegetarian. Or so my pals tell me. Repeatedly.
In fairness, they have to put up with some pretty annoying and idiotic questions – where they get their protein, whether they eat fish, whether they "wouldn't love a big juicy burger", as if they've never heard that hilarious jape before.
One of the biggest struggles of all, though, is going out to eat and having to worry about whether or not there will be a vegetarian option on the menu that isn't a paltry Caesar salad with the chicken stripped out and fed to the cat. So here you go – here are ten lunch dishes in Dublin that actually treat veggies like real people.
Ginger Rice Tofu Salad @ Cornucopia
Cornucopia is the only place on this list serving up vegetarian food exclusively. You can walk in any day of the week and expect a great selection of daily specials.
The salad bar is packed with a variety of fresh salads and then there are heavier mains such as vegetable pie and aubergine lasagne that will leave you feeling full for the rest of the day. In particular, though, you have to check out this tasty rice salad with marinated tofu, grated carrot, amare, ginger and spring onions dressed in tamari and mirin.
Vegan Mexican Street Food Salad @ Staple Foods
I’ve never had a bad meal here, and you've absolutely got to try their vegan Mexican street food salad with fresh guacamole. Either have it on a bed of mixed leaves and toasted seeds or you can get it in a wholegrain wrap. You can add vegan baked falafel and hummus as well and why wouldn’t you? Perfection.
Molly Malone @ The Big Blue Bus
This pizzeria operates out of a renovated double decker bus and lives inside The Bernard Shaw. Their stone-baked pizzas can’t be beaten and all the fresh toppings are local organic produce. Need a gluten-free or vegan pizza? No problem. These guys are culinary wizards.
The Molly Malone is a classic topped with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, oregano and fresh basil.
Grilled Halloumi Wrap @ Green Bench Cafe
The menu changes daily but there is always a delicious veggie option. Sometimes you’ll find the elusive falafel at Green Bench but more commonly they do a mean grilled halloumi. Get it in a wrap or a sandwich stuffed with their daily salad specials – from which you can expect grilled veg, couscous, tabbouleh, tzatziki, pesto and so much more.
Vegetarian Quiche @ Dublin Food Co-op
If you’re a vegetarian it’s likely you’re familiar with this one. Members of the co-op get great organic vegetables, fruit and wholefoods at discounted prices. They have a fabulous cafe, previously run by the folks behind the Fumbally and the quality of the food shows it. The vegetarian quiche with feta, spinach and sun dried tomatoes is the best around.
Superfood Salad @ Itsa
If you’re like me, when you think of Itsa you think of bagels. However, they have some incredible salad dishes on offer. Their yummy superfood salad is sweet and savoury at the same time. It’s made up of baby spinach and mixed leaves with chickpeas, blueberries, walnuts, roast sweet potato, sprouts, avocado and lemon dressing.
Super Green Salad @ Cocu
The super green salad has it all – broccoli, avocado, courgetti, quinoa, feta and sprouted greens with Asian dressing. Go for a base of cubed and roasted sweet potato. Then you get to pick your ‘super sprinkle’, which is a combination of seeds, nuts and herbs. I love this place because it makes me feel like Gordon Ramsay when I choose the right combo.
Spaghetti Bolognese @ Happy Food
HappyFood have an incredible set menu full of vegetarian and vegan options. They also have shifting daily specials so you’re always in for a surprise. This vegan spaghetti bolognese with olive tapenade and walnut cheese is one of their recent hits.
Falafel Plate @ Umi Falafel
Umi Falafel have some fantastic lunch deals. You can get four pieces of falafel and a large fresh salad with lots of vegetables, herbs and spices. You’ll also get fresh, crispy flat bread and your choice of sauces from tzatziki to tahini.
Warm Aubergine Salad @ Sister Sadie
The warm salad special at Sister Sadie is a must. Roast aubergine on a bed of lemon and cumin quinoa, topped with green tahini, radish wedges, roast tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and fresh herbs. There are more ingredients in this salad than in my entire fridge, but I’m not even mad because it tastes amazing.