Happy Herbivore in Celery City

Photo provided by @orlandovegans

In case you missed it: Hollerbach’s Willow Tree is hosting their first-ever vegan event, “Wegan Night,” in collaboration with Orlando Vegans, on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The special dinner was such a hit, it sold out in less than a week! In honor of this monumental milestone in Sanford and vegan cultures, we’ve decided to gather a list of options to show how easy it is to be vegan in Sanford.

Now, I’ve been living in Sanford for about six years and I remember how lost I felt as a vegan when I moved here. So I’m sure if you’re considering a plant-based lifestyle, you feel just as confused about how to do it. I mean, yeah, we’re known as “Celery City,” but green options have been a bit limited. I’ve gotten away with some feta-free potatoes and grape leaves at Zorba’s, and plenty of juice from Roots Raw Juice Bar to sustain me. But we are expanding and becoming better than ever!

Photo provided by @orlandovegans

Psychedelic Cheeze Pizza

Mellow Mushroom offers a variety of vegan pizza and hoagie options, which include tempeh (fermented soybean), tofu, and Follow Your Heart cheese. After many years doing their traditional Veg Out pizza, I started to crave something new. Now, I customize one of the specialty pizzas, the Loaded Potato Pie. Order it up by substituting the bacon with teriyaki tempeh (or tofu) and the dairy cheese for vegan, then nix the sour cream, ranch, and butter. To finish it off, add the Thai dye sauce drizzle. Potato-lovers unite, this pizza will change your life. Gluten-free options, such as crust, are also available.

Bonus: There is no longer an upcharge for the vegan cheese. With psychedelic decor from floor to ceiling and 1970s music rocking, the atmosphere is an awesome blast from the past. Perfect for a group outing or a casual date night, it’s a hippie paradise. Take a seat at the bar and order up a craft beer to pair with your deliciously dairy- free pie. You’re guaranteed to leave full, happy, and nostalgic for the good times.

Photo provided by @orlandovegans

Ital-ize Jamaican Fare

Everybody loves pizza, but going out near the mall can sometimes feel like a journey.

We Sanfordites are known for staying exclusive to our downtown historic district. Thankfully, right on Sanford Avenue is Negril Spice, the authentic Jamaican cuisine. The moment I learned this spot added what they call “veggie chunks” to their menu, I visited there immediately. Not only do they have plant-based options, but faux meats have been unheard of in this area. Luckily, Jamaicans — specifically Rastafarians — are no strangers to living meat-free.

The term Ital refers to a vegetarian diet that is intended to improve your health. This Caribbean cuisine offers three varieties of the soy-based meat: curry, brown stew, and jerk. Choose your flavor, level of fire (they come mild, so fire it up), then it’s served up with cabbage, rice and peas, and plantains. If you’re feeling really hungry, throw in a Jamaican patty and wash it all down with a sweet bottle of mango juice. Sit among posters of reggae favorites, such as the legendary Bob Marley, as he sings his iconic summertime sounds. The island vibes will come to you naturally at this hot spot.

Photo provided by @orlandovegans

Wonderfully-made Dessert

You have to finish off your savory meal with a sweet dessert. Wondermade, our hand-crafted ice creamery, has vegan flavors. The items change daily, but swing by and sample the few to find your favorite. My favorite so far has been the mocha chip, but I love anything chocolate!

Wegan Night Comes to Sanford

For years, vegans have been hoping they can return to their once-favorite German place, Hollerbach’s Willow Tree. I hear it over and over again that they used to go all the time before they stopped eating meat. So imagine my surprise and excitement when they reached out to me for an Orlando Vegans collaboration. Chef Patrick and his great team invited me in to try their test batch of from-scratch vegan sausages. Needless to say I loved his creation: a housemade blend of lentils, rice, and mushrooms, with cornmeal to bind (making it gluten-free). In the days of frozen and processed fake meats, I would say impressed is an understatement. And even their Magnolia Square Market has a delicious lemon pound cake. Sausages and cake, sign me up!

And of course coming soon to First Street is Henry’s Depot, the culinary collective that will include fine vittles from Southern-styled Dixie Dharma, as well as handmade ice cream from Greenery Creamery. Sanford is growing, veganism is growing, and I’m here to tell you that you can live as a happy herbivore in the historic city of Sanford!

UPDATE 7/8/2020 by Jessica

Welcome Dixie Dharma

The Original Bird by Dixie Dharma Sanford FL

© Benevolence Photography

Dixie Dharma Sanford Mac 'n' cheese

© Benevolence Photography

I did it!!! I finally had Dixie Dharma and it was D-E-licious. I had patiently been waiting for Dixie Dharma to take root in Sanford before giving them a whirl and with their soft opening happening RIGHT NOW, I was there in a flash. I ordered The Original Bird, their famous sloppy Joe. (Florida citrus BBQ topped with creamy house slaw, open-faced on a toasted potato bun spread with slow-roasted garlic) with a side of their famous Mac n’ cheese (I went for the garlic flavor). And I’m happy to report…nothing disappointed! I don’t fancy myself a BBQ or mac ‘n’ cheese girl, but when I asked what their best sellers were these two items were given to me so I went with it. Y-U-M! Every bite was full of flavor and in my opinion no dish can ever have too much garlic so when I saw the two cloves of garlic hanging out on top of the mac ‘n’ cheese I knew I was in for a treat. ? For all you vegan lovers out there or for all of you who thought you’d never enjoy a vegan dish, I highly recommend Dixie Dharma.

Dixie Dharma inside Henry's Depot Sanford FL

© Benevolence Photography

A first! Vegan burgers at Burger King! Photo provided by @orlandovegans

Delicious Vegan Lemon Pound cake at Magnolia Square Market. Photo provided by @orlandovegans