Meatless dining, one plate at a time

Written By BY JANET RAUSA FULLER For Sun-Times Media Posted: 02/26/2014, 10:24am

Can a true foodie eat only fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes — and live without bacon and doughnuts, or bacon-topped doughnuts?

Ask Jessica Murnane. The restaurant lover and graphic designer has been eating this way for three years and says she’s never felt better.

The 37-year-old Murnane is the creator of One Part Plant. It’s one part website (onepartplant.com) dedicated to “plant-based” eating, one part dining project wherein restaurants commit to putting at least one plant-based item on their menu. She has 12 such restaurant partners (and one caterer) to date, including Trenchermen and Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

dedicated to “plant-based” eating, one part dining project wherein restaurants commit to putting at least one plant-based item on their menu. She has 12 such restaurant partners (and one caterer) to date, including Trenchermen and Honey Butter Fried Chicken.

Murnane always had been a beef-loving, fondue-dipping gal — one plagued by health problems since puberty. Facing a hysterectomy due to severe endometriosis, she took the dietary 180 into clean eating on the advice of a friend.

“I thought that veganism — and I tend not to use the ‘v’ word — was not very cool at all and not something I ever saw myself doing in a million years,” she says.

She cooks now but hasn’t had to give up on dining out, due in part to her own advocacy.

“The main reason I wanted to start [One Part Plant] was to be able to have everyone who eats this way be able to eat anywhere they want,” she says.

Happy Mondays: “Trenchermen [2039 W. North] has a Meatless Monday menu, which is really, really good. And it’s great because it’s not just one option, it’s three or four. Nellcote [833 W. Randolph] has a veggie section that’s really highlighted. Whatever Jared [Van Camp, the chef] finds that’s seasonal, that’s what’s on the menu. He works wonders with vegetables.”

An old standby: “I love the huge special salad at Rose Angelis [1314 W. Wrightwood]. It changes every night. It’s this crazy big tower-pyramid-mound thing, and it has the biggest carrots and purple potatoes you’ve ever seen. It’s just really impressive. The dressing always changes, too.”

Little gem: “Kitchen 17 in Lakeview [613 W. Briar] is a really small place, and it’s always packed. Straight-up vegan. He has really good nachos that are plant-based.”

By the slice: “One of my dream One Part Plant restaurants is Santullo’s [1943 W. North]. They sell pizza by the slice, the most authentic New York-style pizza. If they would just come up with a cashew cheese, that’d be so exciting, oh my gosh!”

I dream of greens: “I don’t think raw food is necessarily for everyone. But the collard greens salad with sauerkraut at Raw [51 W. Huron; 131 N. Clinton] — I think about that a lot. This salad could feed four people. And they have the best almond milk I’ve had in my entire life.”

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