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Posted at 2:38 PM ET, 11/ 1/2010

Step away from the burger: World Vegan Day has arrived

By Lavanya Ramanathan

If you've ever wondered whether you could get through a day without a burger, bacon or even that splash of milk in your coffee, today is a perfect excuse to find out: It's World Vegan Day.

To try going vegan for a day, check out our Best Bets list of favorite places to nosh like a vegan (and if you're not ready to go whole faux hog, there are plenty of vegetarian options, too). Or check out tonight's World Vegan Day event at 6:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets' Fifth and K location, where a slew of high-profile local vegans will be sharing stories on making the change.

As for us, we're using the occasion to launch a new series highlighting the best vegan and vegetarian dishes we've spied in restaurants around the region, some in places you'd never expect. First up, we point you to the one dish that you'd probably never expect to be vegan: pizza.

While Washington has plenty of pizzerias that will serve your pizza sans dairy, we've compiled a handful of faves that will happily serve up vegan pizza made with soy cheese or the nut-based cheese substitute, Daiya, that's turning up on menus across the city.

Coming in at the top has to be Pizzeria Paradiso, which notes, in tiny print at the bottom of its menu, that any pizza can be made with soy cheese for a nominal two bucks or so. (I prefer the Margherita, which is simple and delicious; the veggie-loaded Siciliana is another popular choice for vegans).

Another restaurant that gives vegans room to play: Comet Ping Pong, where for a couple of extra bucks, they'll also swap in soy cheese (I'm personally obsessed with the Steel Wills, what with its tart black olives and fresh bitter spinach). Toscana Grill in Arlington serves Daiya cheese on a number of its pizzas, but most notably the spicy and sweet Sinatra, which features red bell peppers, spinach and chunks of smoky grilled faux chicken all drizzled with a mildly Asian chili sauce. While I wasn't enamored of the pizza's crust, the restaurant does have a menu packed with options for vegans. Post music critic/vegan guy about town Chris Richards (who slogs for this Post blog) swears by the pizza at Astor Mediterranean in Adams Morgan (there's another location in Arlington, too), where you can get soy cheese on certain pies. And finally, Café Green has a pizza that's unlike all the others: It's raw pizza, with a crackery crust made of flax and sunflower seeds and coconut flour, and raw veggies on top. And yes, it never sees the inside of an oven.

One serving would easily be dwarfed by a jumbo slice of the real thing, but trust me, raw pizza will also never leave you with a grease hangover.

--Lavanya Ramanathan

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | November 1, 2010; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  World Vegan day, vegan, vegetarian  
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On behalf of vegans in the Metro area, thank you for this new column! We have to thank Compassion Over Killing for working extremely hard encouraging pizza and other area restaurants to offer vegan options. FYI, Daiya Foods cheese is not nut-based. It is soy-free, made with tapioca starch and pea protein. The "meltability" is amazing! Shredded Daiya cheese is available in mozzarella and cheddar at most natural food stores.

Posted by: veggourmet | November 1, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this great feature! Be sure to also check out - a free online dining guide listing hundreds of eateries in and around the nation's capital dishing out delicious veg-friendly cuisine.

Posted by: emeier | November 2, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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