New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.

No animals were harmed in the making of this date.

Oftentimes in the dating world we encounter online profiles that include a potential date’s dietary preferences. From carnivores to pescatarians, there’s a gamut of eaters out there, but where exactly do you take them for a meal? Same goes for couples that for one reason or another may experience a change in their dietary needs or beliefs. Whether your other half embraces a vegan lifestyle or you’re both vegan-curious, we’ve got the date night for you.

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Some would assume that going vegan means searching for a meat substitute, and that would be massively incorrect. Vegan isn’t about finding a protein stand-in; it’s about eating food that doesn’t come from something with a face. Vegan cuisine can also be all about flavor and textures, so much so that even the most devout carnivore will be pleasantly surprised … and full at the end of the date.

Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night guaranteed to leave you with no beefs!

Where Local Meets Delicious

A modern interpretation of vegan food using the freshest of the fresh might just render you Veganized!  Veganized in New Brunswick is a community-focused restaurant using local, seasonal and fair trade ingredients. 

Your date night will begin with innovative appetizers such as the RAWvioli (raw beet ravioli with raw nut cheese, pesto and saffron “cream”) and the Morockin Grill (grilled king trumpet mushrooms with a Moroccan spice marinade).  Choices galore for your main dish including BBQ Skewers (grilled seitan vegetable BBQ skewers with herbed white bean sauce, saffron rice and crusted oyster mushrooms with maple Dijon) and Mash-n-Gravy (crusted tempeh and roasted carrots with truffle mash potatoes, sautéed kale and maitake mushroom gravy). 

Save room for dessert as the Bananarama (vanilla poppy seed banana cake with strawberry compote, mango coulis and vanilla sauce) is not to be missed!

For more information on Veganized, visit their website at www.veganizedfoods.com.

Getting Comfortable with Vegetables

When it comes to comfort food, going vegan doesn’t mean sacrificing the coziness. Killer Vegan in Union specializes in vegan comfort food guaranteed to please. 

Maybe you and your date will go for the Killer Vegan Burgers (in-house made patties and “cheese”) such as The Killer (two classic Killer Vegan patties with sautéed onions, house-made vegan cheese sauce and coconut “bacon” on a whole wheat bun) and The Gunslinger (a classic Killer Vegan patty topped with tempeh marinated in spicy house-made BBQ sauce and grilled onions on a whole wheat bun). 

Also check out their bowls, including The Americana, made with organic tri-color quinoa, red kidney beans, steamed carrots and broccoli, smoky baked tofu and house-made “cheese” sauce.

For more information about Killer Vegan, visit their website at www.killervegan.com.

Heaven on Earth

If you’re craving a little Asian flavor but want it to be a 100% vegetarian, vegan, kosher and GMO-free dining experience, Veggie Heaven has the perfect date night for you. Located in Teaneck, you’ll find classic Chinese dishes that resemble their meaty counterparts, but are made with the freshest vegetables, vegan condiments and protein sourced from soy, tempeh and wheat gluten. 

You’ll find favorites such as Mongolian beef (vegetarian “beef” with snow peas, black mushrooms, broccoli and peppers in a light barbeque sauce) and mango flavored chicken (chunks of vegetarian “chicken” sautéed with snow peas, peppers, sliced mango and served with a sweet fruit sauce). 

Like seafood? Check out the vegetarian salmon (smoked soy “salmon” with a mixture of vegetables in chef’s special sauce) and the seafood taro (vegetarian “squid, scallops and shrimp” with snow pea pods, red pepper and black mushrooms over crispy taro and finished with brown sauce). 

Save some room for dessert because you won’t want to miss their vegan cakes, including orange poppyseed, carrot and coconut.

For more information on Veggie Heaven, visit www.veggieheaventeaneck.com.

Just Like Mom Used to Make … with a Twist

When Montclair residents Tracey Phalon and Fanny Fuentes-Phalon opened Mundo Vegan in Montclair, their goal was straightforward — to serve up delicious favorites reflective of their ethical vegan lifestyle. With dishes like organic jackfruit ropa vieja (jackfruit, yellow peppers, red onions and tomatoes served over rice with choice of red or black beans) and BBQ deitan (roasted seitan seasoned with turmeric, house made barbeque sauce served with coleslaw, light brown rice and beans) it’s certain their goal was successfully accomplished. 

On Fridays and Saturdays you’ll find their signature organic lasagna on the menu, made with cashew and tofu ricotta with homemade sauce and topped with micro greens. The icing on the cake is definitely Mundo Vegan’s assortment of gluten-free vegan desserts, including organic nut-free brownies, tiramisu and vegan cheesecake.

For more information on Mundo Vegan, visit www.mundovegannj.com.

No Faking It

The biggest misconception about veganism is that it’s all about substitutions. Taking something away and replacing it with a close facsimile is not what going meatless is really about. It’s about embracing new protein sources and innovative flavors for a multitude of good reasons.

The same can be said about beginning a new relationship. Where a lot of singles in the dating world mess up is trying to find a substitute for their ex. Trying to find a carbon copy of your past love isn’t necessarily the smartest or the healthiest choice. Approaching dating with an openness to experience a new person with a refreshing point of view is way more interesting.  And just like your vegan date night, doing so might just leave you totally satisfied and craving a second helping.

Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of The 49th Challenge, Craig has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery.  To learn more about Craig, please visit CraigRogers.nyc.

What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date?  Tell Craig all about it at crogersnyc@gmail.com.

 

More Date Night Ideas:

A Revolutionary Morristown Pub Crawl

Asbury Park is the Shore Thing

With Al Fresco Dining, the Sky’s the Limit

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