Guest post by Dinova's director of strategic accounts, Janice McEachen.

Choosing a vegetarian diet is nothing new, for years people have shied away from animal protein for any number of reasons, religious, moral, or simply a healthier lifestyle.  I could imagine my life as a vegetarian, at this point I choose not to, but it would be possible.  Vegan?  Not for me!   Life without eggs, honey, butter and cheese just isn’t in my realm of imagination.  For raw vegans even dark chocolate could be off limits if the cocoa beans were roasted.

Well good news for vegetarians, vegans and the many of us that strive to consume a little less meat.  In fine dining restaurants across the country chefs are adding vegetarian entrees beyond risotto and pasta.  At protein driven “Range” in Washington D.C., Chef Bryan Voltaggio makes his vegetarian guests feel welcome with dishes like kimchi linguine with maitake mushrooms and little wisps of kale or a lasagna that layers thin sheets of poached Yukon Gold potatoes with a tomato marmalade and garlicky chanterelles.  Vegetarian tasting menus are popping up at fine dining restaurants all over the country.  With dish options like Pommes Soufflés -  Sunny side up quail egg, marble potatoes, brentwood corn, summer squash and chimichurri (Per Se) have even the carnivores requesting the vegetarian option.

In the fast casual restaurant world, a growing category is the vegetable forward concept.  In the Dinova Marketplace we have Veggie Grill on the west coast and Beefsteak in the Washington D.C., area.  These are not “vegetarian” restaurants but they do put vegetables at the center of the plate.   The food is so thoughtful and creative; you won’t miss the meat!  Veggie Grill offers dishes like Thai tacos, smoky corn bisque, and an array of bowls featuring grains, nuts and fresh veg.  I had the B.T.L.A., tempeh and bacon took the place of pork and it was just delicious.  In D.C., Chef José Andrés has introduced Beefsteak.  According to their website the name “is a playful take on the power of vegetables — because a tomato, or any veggie, can be every bit as flavorful and robust as a cut of meat!”   At Beefsteak you can add meat if you’d like, but it won’t outshine the fresh vegetables.  Exploring restaurants like these make it easy to eat a healthier diet and should not be thought of as establishments for vegetarians only.