Veg Out

An occasional look at vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

Veg Out: Van's Vietnamese

van's vietnamese restaurant exterior 2016-April

By Cristin Steding

Veg Out is short series about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

Has there ever been a restaurant you've wanted to try for ages but never get around to? Someplace you know you'd love, but put off trying because you know you'll be there all the time once you finally go?

For me, that place is Van's Vietnamese Restaurant in Albany.

When I asked for suggestions of where to go for vegan food in the Capital Region, Van's was consistently one of the top answers given. I love all spicy foods, especially when they involve noodles, so I was pretty excited to give Van's a try. But for some reason, it took me months from hearing about Van's to actually try it. Perhaps it's because, as many fellow Trojans can attest, with so many great restaurants within walking distance of downtown Troy, it can be easy to never venture out to Albany for food. Or maybe I'm just lazy.

Whatever the reason, I finally made the pilgrimage, and man, was it worth it.

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Veg Out: Beirut Restaurant

Beirut restaurant Troy exterior 2016-March

By Cristin Steding

Veg Out is short series about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

No tour of vegetarian and vegan food would be complete without a foray into ethnic food options. Trying to veganize traditional American food tends to be an exercise in frustration. Dairy-heavy, meat-centered dishes like hot dogs, mac and cheese, and pizza are difficult to replicate with satisfaction. But when you widen your view, the vegan options multiply.

One of my favorite places for a more global meal is the little treasure of a Lebanese restaurant in Troy, Beirut.

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Veg Out: The Bier Abbey

bier abbey schenectady exterior

By Cristin Steding

Veg Out is short series about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

While visiting a friend in New York City recently I found myself at a bar that had no vegan options. Every single option involved meat or butter. The only thing I could order was french fries. Rookie mistake to not research beforehand. I had foolishly assumed that since most places in Albany have veggie options, surely a hip bar in Brooklyn, of all places, would have something.

Here in the Capital Region, being vegan is relatively easy. We have Whole Foods and Honest Weight for all our geeky animal­-free cheeses and most restaurants have at least one veggie option. It's easy to get spoiled.

One great veggie option for a low-key dinner date or after work drinks is The Bier Abbey in Schenectady.

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Veg Out: Seitan wings at The Ruck

The Ruck vegan wings

By Cristin Steding

Say hello to Cristin Steding, who will be writing a short series here at AOA about vegan dining options around the Capital Region.

One of the hardest things about eating vegan and spending time with non-vegan friends and family is going out to eat. At family dinners and casual get-togethers, it's easy enough to bring a dish to share and insist no one worry about accommodating you. When someone says "Let's go out!," though, it strikes dread in the hearts of vegans everywhere. Will it be a night of eating unseasoned, overpriced steamed veggies? Or will it be the dreaded plain garden salad with oil and vinegar?

If you're lucky, you can convince the group to go to a place that's secretly vegan-friendly. These darling restaurants will not only mark the menu with what's vegan, but also put an effort at making it delicious.

When the time does come to pick a restaurant, it's good to have some solid choices at the ready, where you know you'll be able to find something to eat and your carnivore dining mates won't whine about the hippie food. The Capital Region is blessedly vegan friendly, something I completely took for granted prior to going full veg. In fact, some of the best vegan food around is hiding in places you might not expect.

Perfect example: The Ruck.

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