Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vegetarian Friendly Groceries in Chattanooga

Chattanooga ay not have made Grub Hub's 2012 list of the most vegetarian cities in America. It doesn't have the concentration of vegetarians as, say Denver or Portland or New York or even Atlanta. However, it is still very vegetarian and vegan friendly place, especially when you take into account that it is a small Southern city. Thanks to Chattanooga's thriving local food scene, the affluent liberal community that has attracted grocers like Whole Foods and Earth Fare, and the vegetarian Seventh Day Adventist community you'll be surprised how this town rivals even bigger cities. It's never been so easy to stock your pantry meat-free.

The North Shore is definitely one of the most vegetarian friendly areas of Chattanooga. It features not only the Whole Foods-run Greenlife Grocery, with its excellent lunch options including the prepared foods deli, hot bar, sushi, soups, wraps, sandwiches, and more, but also Sluggo's North Vegetarian Cafe. Sluggo's is an all-vegan restaurant that serves down home Southern comfort food with special house recipes that make delicious faux cheese and shrimp and beef that rival the real thing. 

Earth Fare serves the East Brainered and Ooltewah areas with similar stock and lunch amenities to Whole Foods. East Brainerd and Ooltewah are also very vegetarian friendly areas thanks to their proximity to the Colledgedale area, which is heavily Seventh Day Adventist. The Village Market in Colledgedale offers a variety of health foods and meat substitutes that aren't available even at other upscale groceries with an emphasis on specialty and organic foods.

There is also a veggie friendly Seventh Day Adventist grocery in Wildwood, Georgia, just ten minutes south of Chattanooga. The Wildwood Country Store is part of the Wildwood Lifestyle Center and Hospital. 

In addition to these general purpose grocery stores, there are also several great ethnic grocery stores in town with a variety of ingredients that are vegetarian and vegan. 

Asian Food & Gifts of Chattanooga on Hixson Pike imports many products from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea. Canned goods, dry goods, produce, sodas, and even specialty items like whole octopi are all available. Because so many Asian dishes are vegetarian, this is a great place to find interesting additions to your pantry.

India Bazar on Lee Highway between Brainerd and East Brainerd specializes in spices, dry, refrigerated, and canned ingredients, and snacks. Several of the Indian restaurants in town buy stock here rather than or along with importing from Atlanta. From paneer to pre-made vindaloo sauce, this shop has everything you need for Indian cooking, which is great for many vegetarian and vegan recipes.

The Family Food Mart on Brainerd Road is a Middle Eastern market with a great selection of foods for Turkish and Arabic cooking. They offer everything from fresh tahini to incense. It's small and, true to the name, family owned and operated and is frequented primarily by families shopping for their own kitchens. It has a friendly atmosphere and, though small, you'll find interesting vegetarian ingredients you didn't even know existed.

Whether you are a pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore with eclectic tastes, Chattanooga has a full breadth of options for anyone cooking meat-free.