So you don't eat meat? Avoid dairy? Eschew eggs? Ask any local vegan and you'll be directed to well-known dining favorites that are largely lacto- and ovo-free, such as lunch spot Java Green (1020 19th St. NW), the new Indian joint Nirvana (1810 K St. NW) or the pan-Asian Sunflower (2531 Chain Bridge Rd., Vienna). But to support D.C. area businesses that are 100 percent animal-free -- especially with this being Vegan Month -- we offer these options:
EVERLASTING LIFE. 2928 Georgia Ave. NW. 202-232-1700. 9185 Central Ave., Capitol Heights. 301-324-6900. www.everlastinglife.net. Call it a vegan Quick-E-Mart. You'll find basics from pasta to chips to cookies, plus convenience-store surprises like Tofurky kielbasa ($4.59). And at both locations: a juice bar stocked with popular nosh, such as spicy tofu and kale (each $3 to $6). Under the same ownership is the totally vegan Soul Vegetarian -- a sit-down restaurant in the Maryland complex and a takeout down the street from the D.C. market at 2606 Georgia Ave. NW.
Customers pick up vegan goody bags from Everlasting Life in Capitol Heights.
(Nate Lankford For The Washington Post)
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GAIL'S VEGETARIAN CATERING. Silver Spring. 301-565-0674. www.gailsvegetarian.com.This 16-year-old company will bring a full vegan meal to groups of 12 to 300. The extensive Web site details a diverse range of options, including a Moroccan carrot salad, Szechuan sesame noodles and a veggie version of the Cajun classic boudin. Bag lunches run about $10, and a sit-down dinner is about $35 per person.
PANGEA. 2381 Lewis Ave., Rockville. 301-816-9300. www.veganstore.com. Primarily a Web-based business selling to people in vegan-light areas, this small market's main draws are faux-leather shoes ($30 to $120) and clothing. But you'll also find a smattering of cruelty-free health and beauty products, cleaning and home supplies, and non-refrigerated foods. Whizzers (an M&Ms substitute) from England are $1.99, and marshmallows packaged under Pangea's own brand, VeganSweets, are $3.99.
STICKY FINGERS BAKERY. 1904 18th St. NW. 202-299-9700. www.stickyfingersbakery.com. Co-owner Kirsten Rosenberg says her goodies are "virtually indistinguishable from traditional baked products" -- and an informal taste test proved her mostly right. This tiny basement bakery offers an array of pastries, cookies and cakes ranging from the obligatorily healthy (like the blueberry muffin, $1.50) to the downright decadent (the cream-filled, oatmeal Cowvin Cookie, $2.50).
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN. 11618 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-468-9301. www.thevegetablegarden.com. At this mostly Asian eat-in, color photos fill a massive menu (organic dishes indicated in red ink). Popular meals include Hen of the Woods, a saucy stir-fry with mushrooms, asparagus and red peppers ($15.99), and the Tofu Hot Pot, an organic mix of soy, basil and ginger ($9.79).
YUAN FU VEGETARIAN. 798 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 301-762-5937. This cozy spot's extensive menu looks just like most Chinese food restaurants', but specialties like Crispy Orange Beef With Broccoli obviously don't contain meat. Most entrees are $7.95 to $12.95. Nicole M. Miller