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Veggie Dog Cafe in Granger Farmers Market boasts zero animal ingredients

Does Michiana have a vegan-only eatery? You might be surprised to hear that yes, indeed it does — in the form of Veggie Dog Café at the Granger Farmers Market.

Veggie Dog Café sells soup, sandwiches, smoothies and baked goods on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the market. After talking with Julie Swartz-Maynard, the charming proprietor of the vegan booth, I think this may be the first truly vegan eatery in Michiana.

I discovered this little spot last summer, quite soon after I moved here. It might be small – it might be just the start – but I was happy and excited to find it! So, as we are beginning an unequivocally vegan blog, and as Veggie Dog Café is the first vegan eatery around here, it deserves to get a special mention.

But it hasn’t been easy to drop in and grab a bite from Veggie Dog Café. First, it has taken me a while to figure out my routes around Michiana, and how I could integrate a stop at the Granger Farmers Market at the right times. As the market is only open on certain days, it’s not as easy as going to a restaurant with everyday hours.

One other thing that bothered me as a vegan: the entrance to the market was, on my first few visits, dominated by a large meat stall. Right there, as I entered, the stall had placed a barrel of pigs’ ears. So the two times I visited Veggie Dog Café last summer, I would stand transfixed at those ears, because they were too recognizably part of once-living animals. As an ethical vegan, I don’t find these sights easy to handle.

But thankfully, at least for me, the meat stall is no longer at the Granger Farmers market, and Veggie Dog has moved to a more central location. Julie prepares her food in a commercial kitchen, but the Veggie Dog fare is homey and comforting.

The black bean soup, distinctive with large pieces of Savoy cabbage, was hearty and nutritious. The chickpea salad sandwich, a staple of the menu, seems particularly popular.

But hands down, the baked goods are the best offerings from Veggie Dog. My favorite is the scone — handmade, crumbly, rich and creamy. Julie says that she uses full-fat coconut milk to mimic the cream.

The s’mores, made with organic cookie dough, vegan marshmallows and chocolate chips, are also a fun little item that appeal to the kid in all of us.

Dropping into Veggie Dog Café and chatting with Julie really is like coming home after school and having your mom make you some goodies. But then again, it is a daring move to open the first vegan eatery in Michiana.

Patrons still don’t fully understand the label vegan and Julie has to explain that all of her foods are made with no animal ingredients.

Julie’s plan is to gradually increase the variety of offerings at Veggie Dog, and to eventually have her own restaurant space. I look forward to that, and wish her the best of luck!

For more tales of eating vegan in Michiana from Rama Ganesan and Crystal Hallwood, subscribe to the Vegan at the Bend email newsletter.

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