A few weeks ago, after a particularly epic weekend with lots of booze and everything that’s bad for you, I realized I no longer recover like when I was in my twenties. Staying up way passed bed time on a school night, drinking and eating crap, no longer agree with me.
As I watched myself in the mirror with horror the next morning it dawned on me that it is time to do what I’ve been dreading the most: to start living a healthier lifestyle. So I called up my friend Omarie at the Health Factory and scheduled a two week detox meal plan to be delivered at my house every morning. I then made the dreaded phone call to my fellow barflies and told them I would not be showing up for a while, in case they thought I had died. I locked myself up in my house and refused to even go to work at my own bar in case the temptation proved too strong.
After two weeks of intense detoxing with salads, smoothies and lots of water and a couple of pounds lighter it was time to start my new healthier lifestyle. I started yoga, drank a lot of water, avoided alcohol whenever possible and after viewing male baby chicks being thrown into a grinder alive! (Thank you Facebook) I decided that I could no longer proclaim to be an animal lover and still partake in the cruel massacre of millions of animals every week. So, much to my husband’s annoyance I started a vegetarian diet.
Cutting out meat is the easy part. In fact I was already half way there having cut out beef and pork over 10 years ago after having seen the movie Babe. Do you see a pattern here? Finding meatless yet tasty recipes however, proved a bit harder. As someone who eats out a lot I was now clueless to where to go for lunch and dinner should the opportunity arise. Sure, there is the ever popular Top Carrot here on the island but I’ve been there so many times that I know the menu from the top of my head by now. It remains one of my favorite places to chow but if I was to keep up this new vegetarian lifestyle I would have to find some new spots.
5 Must-Visit Vegetarian Restaurants on the Friendly Island
Freedom Fighters Ital Shack
Vegan, Ital, Organic
Everything about this place is IRIE. I find myself at a loss of words when trying to describe the Ital Shack. The food is amazing, the owners super friendly and the restaurant itself is ridiculously creative and unique. Open for breakfast and lunch the Ital Shack is the place for tasty platters full of local vegetables and herbs, most of which is grown right in the back yard. Owner Ras Bushman started the Freedom Fighters Ital Shack back in 1998 he and his wife began selling food right out of their house. The house was converted into a restaurant in 2004.
The food here is strictly organic according to the Rastafarian Movement, which does not believe in killing and is more of a “going back to basic” living.
Closed on Saturday during the day for their sabbath, the shack does open back up at sun down for Saturday dinner and their now famous Redemption Night. Check out their Facebook page for the daily menu.
Vegan to Go
My new number one spot for lunch is actually right next door to my place of work on Airport Road. Vegan to Go is a brilliant new concept by the ambitious 25 year old Marianne, a local girl who just recently returned to the island from studying and working in Boston. She prepares each dish from scratch in her tiny kitchen. Much of her time is invested in researching and finding the best ingredients on island and she frequents local gardens where she barters with the local growers. She recently started her own tiny garden so she can be able to offer the freshest and most organic of products. Try her fresh juices, Kamboucha, Kimchee and Pineapple Hot Sauce. The food is just amazing and as much as I want to keep this place to myself, it is only fair to share Vegan to Go with the World. At the time this blog post is published, Vegan to Go is a still strictly pick up and delivery only and just a few days in the week. Once a week Marianne opens her back yard to the public for a Lunch in the Garden experience, which is well worth the visit. Find out what Vegan to Go is offering this week by visiting their Facebook page.
This charming little local restaurant can be found in the middle of Philipsburg at the popular Walter Plantz Square, a fun place to hang out day or night. The owner and chef is a local gentleman who pours his heart and soul into every dish. He has found creative ways of making vegetarian variations of popular Caribbean dishes. The ambience is very laid back and the location is great for people watching. Find them on Facebook or just drop by for lunch or dinner.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Organic
Ever since I was invited by one of the owners to try out one of their yoga classes Joga has become one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a pity I don’t get the time to stop here for lunch more often. It’s a one-stop-shop for yoga lovers and vegans alike with the shop offering yoga clothing and other knick knacks, the yoga room with different meditation and yoga classes as well as seminars, and the small kitchen offering delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes that will delight your palate. Joga is one of the few places offering cold pressed juices on the island, juice extracted through tremendous force and without the use of heat. The food is prepared fresh with ingredients from the chef’s garden. Find Joga on Facebook.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, Gluten-Free, Paleo
Fit Foods is the new kid on the block. With most islanders now jumping on the trendy bandwagon of healthier living, Fit Foods was welcomed with open arms when it opened its doors last year. The sympathetic and chatty owner is proud of her new restaurant and it shows in the food. Real food made fresh everyday and cooked with healthy fats and lean proteins is what Fit Foods is all about. The concept is based on a Paleo and Ancestral diet so meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike can find healthy dishes, smoothies and snacks for breakfast and lunch. Fit Foods is located on A.T. Illidge Road in Philipsburg. Like them on Facebook and ask them about their meal plans.
What is the best Vegetarian restaurant in your hometown? Share it with us in the below comments section.
I’ll be in St Maarten at the end of this week and am so excited that there are these options. So often when on vacation our strive to healthier eating falls by the wayside, mostly because ‘when in Rome’ but I can’t wait to try these out… and to visit the island, of course.
You’ll love it.