Happy October 1! And — Happy World Vegetarian Day.
World Vegetarian Day was established as an annual celebration to promote the love, joy and compassion of vegetarianism, and bring awareness to the ethical, environmental and health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. This day was founded by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977, and is celebrated every year on October 1, the kickoff of Vegetarian Awareness Month.
I can’t think of a better place to celebrate in Cincinnati than Park + Vine. Not only does this vegan general store have a lunch menu chock-full of mouth-watering, adult-and-kid-approved veggie options, Park + Vine as a local business epitomizes the joy and compassion which the North American Vegetarian Society sought to celebrate.
Owner Dan Korman recently instituted a Pay it Forward program, whereby lunch patrons could opt to purchase any menu item at regular price and set it aside for someone else. A chalkboard near the lunch counter shows the available (purchased) menu items with Post-It notes. Customers of any background or financial situation are welcome to choose a free lunch item from the board. Korman also added an organic, beans and rice option on the menu, which customers could purchase on a sliding scale of $2 and $7, depending on need. Park + Vine’s Pay it Forward program is a great example of how individuals can affect positive change within the community.
Now to the lunch menu itself — it’s awesome. If you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, you might be hesitant to test the tofu waters — but this menu is extremely omnivore friendly. Think classics like mac n’ cheese, Caesar salad and homemade burgers!
My kids had the Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheeze, and it was delicious. It came on a toasted, multigrain bread, filled to the edges with melted cheddar (Park + Vine uses Daiya, a dairy-free cheese that’s known for melting into oozy goodness), sweet apple butter and fresh spinach (we held the onion). They gobbled it down — even Julian, who has become the standard, “picky” 4-and-a-half year old.
The kids were full — but next time, I totally want to try a homemade milkshake!
One more great thing about Park + Vine’s cafe — they use organic, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. So, not only is your patronage supporting a forward-thinking local business, but you’re also keeping your money in the community. And getting a healthy lunch!
After you’re done with lunch, you’ll definitely want to browse the store. There is an extensive collection of vegetarian books and cookbooks, tons of green cleaning supplies, cloth diapers and baby products, Ohio graphic shirts and onesies and an entire selection of veg-friendly pantry staples, refrigerated and frozen products and treats! It’s the kind of place you could easily spend hours perusing.
The store also hosts regular cooking classes, cloth diapering demonstrations, kombucha brewing how-tos and even guided walking tours of the OTR neighborhoods of which Park + Vine is a part. There are always activities happening in this little store.
Of course, vegetarians are lucky to have a place like Park + Vine in the heart of “Porkopolis,” but so are non-veg Cincinnatians. Park + Vine is doing great things for our community, and giving Cincinnati attention for something really positive. We should all take note (and leave a note!) and incorporate this Pay-it-Forward philosophy in our own lives.
Plus — your kids will totally love the grilled cheeze.
Park + Vine is located at 1202 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can park on the street, or in one of the parking lots on Main Street — there are lots of options, and most Downtown parking has credit-card friendly meters. The lunch counter is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Sunday brunch.