Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Boston | BU Today

Versie Dortch

Once upon a time, vegetarians and vegans had limited local food options. Now the number of plant-based restaurants that exist in Boston alone prove that there’s a huge market for Beyond Burgers and soy cheeses.

In addition to the health benefits, many say, they switch to plant-based meals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nationally, spending on plant-based foods increased 27 percent in the last year, growing two times faster than overall food sales in 2020, according to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit focused on alternative proteins. 

For insight to where the best meat-free takeout is, we asked five Terriers who have transitioned to vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Even if you haven’t made the switch to a plant-based diet, ingredients that you didn’t think could be transformed to resemble meat can make the most dedicated carnivores happy. 

Photo of a Galaxy Burger from Veggie Burger, which has beet lentil mushroom burger with lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayo. The burger filling is bright yellow with arugula on top.
Photo courtesy of Veggie Galaxy

The meat-loving Guy Fieri switched up his habits and gave this Cambridge-based diner and vegan bakery a try on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Veggie Galaxy serves an all-day breakfast, as well as salads, burgers, and frappes. Everything is made from scratch, but each item is vegetarian (and can be made vegan), no exceptions.  

Grace Shaver (CGS’21, CAS’23) gave up meat three years ago, so her expertise is in vegetarian Boston-based bites. Shaver recommends the “Great Galaxy,” on the all-day breakfast menu, a medley of hash brown potatoes, over easy egg, tempeh bacon, cheddar cheese, arugula, and garlic mayo on a toasted bun.

Aerial photo of a grain bowl with what looks like falafel. The bowl is stacked high with greens, onions, cabbage, etc and rests on a pink surface.
Photo courtesy of Cava

Cava’s founders infused their Greek roots into what some people have referred to as a Mediterranean-style Chipotle, serving salads, bowls, and pitas. A fan of the assembly-line style fast-casual eatery, Abbey Flannery (CAS’21) suggests Cava for anyone looking for a lot of customization—you choose your base, rice, protein (vegetarian or not), toppings, and dressings.

The lentil avocado bowl is the latest chef-curated creation available at Cava. Start with the dish’s creamy avocado, lentil tabbouleh, and falafel, and add more as you please.

Photo of the Crispy Taro Nest from Grasshoppers on N Beacon St, Allston, Marsh 23. Strands of crispy taro form a bowl shape that holds a noodle salad with broccoli, onions and other vegetables.
Photo by Cydney Scott

If you have an insatiable appetite, Hadwin Belcher (CAS’22) recommends the massive portion sizes at Grasshopper. The extensive menu boasts Asian vegan specialties, most notably faux meats that resemble beef, chicken, shrimp, and squid.

If you’re playing it safe, they’ve got rice and lo mein galore, but their crispy taro nest, an edible noodle basket with veggie meat and seafood, is a hidden gem. Having trouble deciding between dishes? Their third Sunday buffet is a monthly indulgence of several menu items, all for $12.85 a person.

Photo of Rueben on Rye at Veggie Grill in Harvard Square. The sandwich is crispy on the outside, and one piece is wrapped in paper.
Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Even though Deirdre Shahar (COM’21) would hardly consider herself a vegetarian, the reuben on rye at Veggie Grill is her go-to order. It’s as if they’ve reinvented bar food with a plant foundation, touting Chickin’ wings, nachos, chili dogs, and more on their menu.

Thanks to the constant addition of menu items, customers can dabble in inventive new dishes.

Photo of Life Alive’s spring meal plan. The photo features several rustic-looking bowls filled with greens, vegetables, falafel and other ingredients, topped with either a cheese or sauce. The plates rest on a green surface.
Photo courtesy Life Alive Organic Cafe

In the midst of the happenings on West Campus is a plant-based haven: everything it’s serving up is organic and free from GMOs. Keep it simple at Life Alive with a smoothie or coffee or order a surprisingly fulfilling salad, grain, noodle, or soup bowl, topped with a protein like falafel, tofu, and almond milk–based “cheddar cheese.”

While you fuel up between classes, Bella Faber Rico (CAS’23) recommends the green goddess bowl: a medley of rice, adorned with broccoli, kale, tofu, avocado, and a few more surprises. Kick back on their patio while the warm weather is still around.

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