In this week's Reader: veggie mania | Bleader

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  • Lilli Carre

Kevin Warwick has put together a guide to vegetarian and vegan Chicago, drawing on the expertise of dieticians, chefs, vegetarians and vegans, farmers, and entepreneurs in Q & A's on health, restaurants and cooking, and local resources for vegetarian living. We take peeks into the refrigerators of locals including Dan Staackmann, founder of the seitan company Upton's Naturals—the subject of a brief profile—and Hugh Amano, chef and founder of the blog Food on the Dole, who'll serve as host of a vegetarian salon coming up on December 1. There's also a profile of Mickey Hornick, founder of the Chicago Diner ("Meat free since '83"), which is offering its 29th vegan Thanksgiving this year. As an added bonus, vegan Paul McGee, head bartender at the Whistler, contributes an anti-Turkey Day recipe for a booze-heavy Cardinal Punch.

We've got you covered on vegetarian dining, including locals' five favorite vegetarian dishes at nonvegetarian restaurants. In the restaurant listings are spots for deprivation-free vegetarian meals; links are after the jump.

In Key Ingredient Aja chef Ariel Bagadiong tackles the antithesis of vegetarian foods: haggis, the Scottish sausage traditionally made with sheep's innards—heart, liver, lungs—cooked in sheep's stomach or casings with onions, suet, spices, and oatmeal. Because of a 40-year-old ban on importing sheep's lungs, it's not obtainable in the U.S.; nor was Bagadiong able to track down sheep parts. So he riffed on the dish using lamb offal and lamb's blood, adding Thai chiles, daikon, and fish sauce to give it an Asian spin. The traditional oatmeal went into a soda bread that served as an edible bowl for the stew. Next up is Michael McGill of Old Oak Tap, working with grass jelly, made from the leaves of a plant in the mint family.

In the listings, seven recommended vegetarian spots:
Arya Bhavan, the Devon Avenue all-vegetarian restaurant that in addition to weekend buffets offers a raw organic buffet on Monday nights
Ethiopian Diamond, the Edgewater restaurant celebrating its 15th anniversary this month
The Handlebar, one of Dan Staackman's picks as a "must-visit" for vegans
Karyn's on Green, whose beverage program features local beer and spirits along with cocktails like a green mojito made with ginger syrup and spirulina
Quesadilla, the Bucktown BYO offering faux meat tacos, tortas, huaraches, and quesadillas
Urban Vegan, a Thai BYO that also specializes in fake meat
Victory's Banner, the long-lived Roscoe Village breakfast and lunch spot; it will be closed from November 22-24

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