(EDITOR'S NOTE: Sun-Gazette Assistant Lifestyle Editor Julie Reppert is trying to live a dietary vegan lifestyle, which means she is eliminating the use of animal products in her diet.)
So, it is week four of my column, the time when my month-long vegan adventure ends and I can look forward to stuffing my face with cheese and dairy again!
Well, I could - but I'm not going to. My experience has been pretty positive and not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Because I have seen some good changes with my health and asthma, I have decided to keep it up.
One good thing about being a vegan in the area we live in are the dining options. I know there may not be a plethora of restaurants that cater to a vegan, but at least there are some, unlike other areas.
A few weeks ago, I visited my parents in Lebanon County and ran into a huge dilemma when we were trying to figure out where to eat.
I ended up with a salad each place we went to that weekend. I love salad, but it can get pretty boring when that is your only option and there aren't many veggies on it.
Visiting my hometown really made me appreciate the options we have here in Williamsport. There are restaurants that recognize the needs of their patrons and provide them with delicious and creative choices and not just a salad - because some may think that's all vegetarians and vegans eat.
Kimball's Pub, 972 2nd St., is a place I have started to visit fairly regularly because I absolutely love the tofu wings. Mild always is a good choice, but my favorite is spicy garlic. I usually pair them with a house garden salad with homemade vinagrette or frips (french fry chips). The salad is a nice size and comes with mixed greens, carrots, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes and the wing sauce is made with a vegan alternative butter. Yay!
Kimball's also has a nice selection of other vegetarian meals like the BBQ tofu veggie sub, portabella burger and a variety of tempeh options.
The Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St., also is a great place to go for vegetarian or vegan meals. My favorites are the veggie chili, which is completely vegan, and the house salad with smoked tofu. Other veggie options to put on your salad include grilled portobello mushrooms and tempeh.
The Bullfrog also has a variety of other veggie sandwiches and items you can order sans cheese to make them vegan. I also like to go to the jazz brunch on Sundays, where they have a lot for the vegetarians, including "fakin' bacon," meatless burritos and breakfast bowls. Most items you can order without cheese and eggs.
Joy Thai, 15 W. Fourth St., has really tasty vegetarian tom yum soup. Tom yum is a hot and sour soup with mushrooms, lemongrass and Thai herbs. The vegetarian-style soup comes with tofu and lots of veggies. I also really like the yellow curry, which is Thai yellow curry with coconut milk, carrots, onions, potatoes and bell peppers and a side of white rice.
Joy Thai also has a vegetarian menu with lots of vegetable and tofu options. The fried rice also can be made vegan.
The restaurant's staff is so attentive that when they notice you ordering vegetable tom yum soup and spicy fried rice with tofu, they ask you if you don't want eggs in your fried rice. How nice!
A lot of places are noticing that more vegans and vegetarians are looking for better dining options, and they are beginning to offer veggie burgers, bulked-up salads and other vegetarian options on their menus.
But vegans must be aware that not all veggie burgers, or the buns they are served on, are vegan. A lot of veggie burgers have cheese inside them and the buns may include butter, honey, eggs or milk products.
Burger King's french fries are vegan because they are cooked in vegetable oil separate from other food, but their veggie burgers contain egg whites and calcium caseinate (derived from milk). So vegans, just be aware when ordering a veggie burger, because you never know what might be in it.
You can never be absolutely sure if what you are eating has never touched an animal product.
It doesn't matter if you eat meat or not, the only time you can be absolutely sure about your food, is when you make it yourself in your own home.
But as a girl who likes to go out to eat on occasion, I'm just happy that the effort is being made by some restaurants to accommodate vegetarians and vegans.
Reppert's column now will be published monthly on the second Wednesday of each month.