Vegetarians get a bad rap. They may make for tough dates at a steakhouse, but the majority of them are just people trying to live a healthier life. And here’s the thing: Science suggests—yet again—that they’re on to something. A recent study conducted by researchers at Loma Linda University in California and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that vegetarians were 19 percent less likely to die from heart disease than meat eaters and 12 percent more likely to live longer. With more men swapping meat for a medley of vegetables, can Miami really deliver on taste, variety, and quality vegetarian food? Three converts reveal all.

Mariano Ardissone
Owner, Ayama Yoga and Healing Arts
“Initially, I wanted a diet that was lighter and more nutritious and had the least negative impact on my health. I later came to understand how much cruelty exists in the food industry; I didn’t want to be a part of that,” Ardissone says, adding, “In yoga we try to understand the totality of ourselves.” Echoing that sentiment, Miami Juice in Sunny Isles Beach whips up a holistic approach to food that celebrates wholesome nourishment and the experiential side of eating healthily. From the Power Breakfast (organic cereal with seasonal fresh fruit, flax seed, and vitamin-packed fiber) to MJ’s Special Rice (organic brown rice, chopped scallions, imported olives, sweet peppers, and Atlantic dulse flakes), “everything there is good,” Ardissone attests.
Favorite veggie dish: “I love the quinoa with vegetables.” Miami Juice, 18660 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-945-0444

Philip Gray
Personal trainer, Equinox
“I’ve been a trainer about 20 years now and a vegetarian for the last seven. I was just really turned off by red meat, and I wanted a much cleaner diet,” Gray says. “Meat takes a long time to break down in your system, and it slows you down so much.” At Doraku Sushi, where Gray gets his clean-food fix, Executive Chef Tron Welch rolls up true vegetarian sushi substitutes, like its popular Bamboo roll. “We use avocado, steamed asparagus, a spring or mesclun mix, vine-ripened tomatoes, European cucumbers, and green soy paper,” the chef says. “We accompany that with homemade ginger dressing,” one of the restaurant’s veggie-only sauces.
Favorite veggie dish: The cucumber roll at Doraku. Doraku Sushi, 1104 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-695-8383
 

Keith Kalmanowicz
Founder and chef, Love & Vegetables Pop-Up Community Café
Kalmanowicz finds his favorite meat-free fare at Box Park, where Executive Chef Matt Hinckley sources local seasonal fruits and vegetables to maximize flavor and nutritional benefits in his vegetarian options. “Vegetarians are sometimes limited to choosing side dishes when going out to eat at non-vegetarian restaurants,” Hinckley explains. “We wanted to empower them with more choices than what many are used to. All of [our vegetarian] dishes contain superfoods like quinoa, freekeh [an ancient grain], goji berries, raw nuts, and kale.”
Favorite veggie dish: The ancient-grain salad at Box Park. Box Park, 1111 SW First Ave., Miami, 305-356-8385

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