People decide what to eat (or not eat) for all kinds of reasons. The vegan swears off all animal products in defense of animal rights while the hedonistic epicure guiltlessly gobbles foie gras in the pursuit of pleasure. The lactose intolerant and those with celiac disease avoid dairy or bread as if it were poison just as the fitness junkies attempt to hack their biology with paleo or keto diets.

As our lifestyles increasingly become outward expressions of our identities and our beliefs, what we eat increasingly becomes more intimately linked to our lifestyles. Take a scroll through your Instagram feed and you’ll no doubt see the various stereotypes play themselves out.

For all the anecdotes, pseudo-science, and legit science claiming to deliver the most effective results towards achieving one’s personal goals, only one diet has global implications. A recent study by scientists from around the world concluded that the entire world must adopt a primarily plant-based diet, reducing global meat consumption by half in order to sustain the estimated population of 10 billion expected by 2050.

Before you turn the page or deposit these pages directly into the trash can, I’m not here to berate you into becoming a vegan or even abstaining from meat at all.

Although certainly its most extreme form, the vegan diet is only one sub-category falling under the relatively broad umbrella of plant-based diets. There are other options for omnivores to do their part. The essence of the plant-based diet isn’t necessarily the complete elimination of meat from one’s diet but rather significantly reducing it and replacing it with fruits and vegetables. Even adopting a flexitarian diet by replacing one meal a day with a meatless alternative can go a long way to reducing the harmful effects on the planet (and your personal health).

Thankfully, there are many ways that the vegan-curious here in Jacksonville can easily embark on a plant-based journey. Here are but a few bold local spots making it easier to get your plant-based fix throughout the day.

Photo: Cole LoCurto

Hot Dog Party
Hands down the hardest part of making meatless choices is making them at 2 a.m. after a night of bar-hopping. But when the Hot Dog Party cart is around, it’s almost impossible not to scarf down a vegan chili dog while you wait for your Uber driver to pull up. Catch them in Five Points nearly every weekend.

Murray Hillbilly
A food truck turned brick and mortar, Murray Hillbilly is the new kid on the block. This Edgewood eatery skips the tofu and tempeh in favor of treating veggies like meat. From lion’s mane mushrooms to fried cauliflower, they do magical and delicious things your mother never thought to with vegetables.

Photo: Amy Robb

Southern Roots
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when it comes to making the most of your plant-based morning, there’s no better stop in the a.m. than Southern Roots. With its sweet potato quinoa patty on a butterless biscuit topped with sprouts and a smoky seed spread, the Roots Biscuit offers a substantial start to any day.

The Zen Butcher
Figuring out how to cook your favorite meals at home without meat can be a challenge at first. Enter the enterprising and inventive couple behind The Zen Butcher who package and sell meat substitutes for everything from ground chorizo to hot Italian sausage, gyro strips and much more. Find them at RAM. Dinner is saved!