Restaurants for the Lexington foodie going vegan

Alfalfa provides vegan options just a short walk from UK’s campus.

Allie King

Who knew there was more to Lexington than bourbon and barbecue?

In the past year, Lexington has hopped on the healthy-living trend. Growth in the local protein shake industry has left citizens wondering what other delicious yet healthy food is available to them, which led some to a vegan diet.

A vegan diet excludes any product that comes from an animal: meat, eggs or dairy products. Someone may choose a vegan diet for environmental or health reasons.

According to, vegan diets can help with weight loss by controlling calorie intake, resulting in a lower body mass index. Going vegan can keep blood sugar in check, which is helpful for people with type 2 Diabetes. Vegan diets have also been proven to lower the risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, kidney failure and Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite the many benefits, starting a diet like this might be difficult for some people due to the fear of having to cook and eat foods outside of one’s comfort zone.

“I definitely do struggle,” Sarah Higley, a junior dietetics major, said. “There are a few restaurants that have options, like Joella’s and Alfalfa, but there are not that many, and the all-vegan restaurant, FIKA Vegan Cantina, just closed.”

Many restaurants in Lexington and surrounding towns offer vegan options on their menus.

Alfalfa is a restaurant in downtown Lexington that has a few different meal options that follow the vegan diet.

“I love Alfalfa in downtown. I get the black bean quinoa burger with extra tomatoes and onions,” Emily Lunsford, a senior biology major, said.

At most fast-food restaurants, vegans have the choice of French fries. There are a few fast-food restaurants in Lexington that have more options for the vegan on-the-go. Culver’s has a few salad options with different add-ins and dressings.

Panera Bread has lots of vegan options including bagels, salads, soups and breads, as well as specific vegan options, like the Vegan Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowl. Panera Bread also allows customers to alter any menu item they want to fit specific dietary needs.

McAlister’s Deli has a veggie chili option along with salad options that also follow the guidelines of a vegan diet.

Restaurants that allow you to build your own meal are good options for a vegan diet. Subway, Qdoba and Blaze Pizza are all places that allow you to tailor your meal to your specific needs.

Along with the fast food restaurants, there are sit-down restaurants that have vegan-friendly menus. Applebee’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cracker Barrel and Red Lobster have salad options that are appropriate for a vegan diet. Olive Garden, Fazoli’s and Outback Steakhouse have pasta options for vegans.

Bagels are a good option for a vegan breakfast. Dunkin Donuts, Great Bagel, Panera Bread, Einstein’s Bagels and Starbucks are places to grab bagels and coffee.

There are different types of vegan diets: whole foods diet, starch programs, high fat raw vegan, the 80/10/10 low fat raw and the junk food diet, according to These restaurant options are for a basic vegan diet. They are not specified towards a specific type of vegan diet.