Local restaurants cater to those with alternative diets, offer a multitude of vegan and vegetarian options

by Cassie Lowery, ’13 and Olivia Miltner, ’13

Veggie burgers, wheat-free bread, and tofu. These are items not typically found in your neighborhood Panera or McDonald’s, but are nonetheless cornerstones of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. In the past, few people followed these diets, but now many vegetarian news groups, such as the Vegetarian Times, have done recent studies showing that there is indeed a growing trend in people who are refraining from eating meat and other animal products.

Despite the growth in numbers of those who follow these different diets, it can still be difficult to find restaurants that cater to these types of food constraints. Fortunately, High Street seems to be a sanctuary for people who follow such diet restrictions, thanks to its numerous restaurants that keep these diets in mind.


Located on North High St., Z-Pizza is in the center of the eclectic Arts District. The vibrant outdoor atmosphere is carried into the restaurant by the many paintings along the walls of the different fruits, vegetables and grains used in their food. The numerous potted plants add to the fresh feel of the establishment. Unfortunately, like any business in the Short North, parking spaces can be few and far between, so plan on a walk getting to and from the restaurant.

Z-Pizza gives you the opportunity to create any type of pizza, accommodating a variety of dietary needs. They offer gluten-free crusts*, as well as a vegan alternative to cheese in addition to their multitude of vegetarian-friendly toppings. If you aren’t in the mood for pizza, they also have salads, pastas, and sandwiches. The food is fresh and flavorful, although perhaps slightly overpriced.

*Although the crust is gluten-free, Z-Pizza as a whole is not a gluten-free environment; therefore some wheat cross-contamination may occur.

Whole World

If you’re looking for a restaurant with an organic feel, Whole World is the place for you! It’s found in Clintonville, with decent parking on surrounding streets and parking lots. While a little dark, it offers an earthy vibe complete with a giant mural as well as local art on the walls.

Food at Whole World tastes like nature. From the whole wheat bread to the bean sprouts, all of the ingredients seem as though they’ve just been plucked from the earth and placed on your plate. They specialize in vegetarian and vegan food, but gluten-free options are also readily available. However, if you’re not accustomed to vegetarian and vegan food, the choices may be a little lacking. Free from commercialization found in places such as Panera and Starbucks, Whole World is a unique, quirky venue for those who eat from a different plate.

Mad Mex

Right across from Ohio State University campus lies this loud and lively Mexican restaurant. Its location provides a college vibe that sets it apart from most places that cater to vegetarians and vegans. Unlike many Americanized Mexican restaurants, Mad Mex has a much edgier look, with most of the decorations evoking the Mexican holiday The Day of the Dead. Getting there can be a struggle however, as the sign is easy to miss from High Street and parking can be tricky.

The expansive menu also includes abundant vegetarian and dairy-free options, which are clearly marked, and the servers are happy to point out their gluten-free foods. For those interested, Mad Mex provides a detailed allergen report online. The portions are gigantic, delicious and fairly priced.