We all love hamburgers. That most American of foods, that most satisfying meal, that most meaty and terrible-for-us use of red meat; imagine the heartbreak, then, when they turned on me. Meat just doesn't work anymore, and it isn't just about the viral videos of terrified pigs or lovesick mother cows watching their calfs headed to slaughter. It's about health and the environment.

Though estimates vary, the Water Footprint Network says it takes about 1,840 gallons of water to produce a pound of hamburger, and it takes 500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat from a chicken. A pound of potatoes takes 100 gallons. Veganism has proven tricky (cheese, glorious cheese), but we've all gotta start somewhere. A cross-section of Santa Fe's most enticing meat-free dining options, then, has come in handy.

Los Magueyes

The impetus for my visit was actually a music performance by pianist Charles Tichenor, who's there every Friday and Saturday evening, but Los Magueyes has an entire section devoted to the vegetarian. My companion and I respectively ordered the bean tostada and enchilada combo plate ($9) and veggie fajitas ($11.75), and the offerings were fresh and fantastic. Chile was on the less-spicy side and the service was fast and friendly. This one's hitting the regular rotation, no question.

31 Burro Alley, 992-0304
Lunch and dinner Monday- Saturday

Vinaigrette

A salad joint may sound obvious, but when one is recently off meat, having lots of options is paramount to living the dream. Not only does Vinaigrette have that in spades, but they grow many of their own fresh offerings. For best results, try the Omega (a fantastic blend of greens, sweet corn, avocado and blue cheese vinaigrette dressing for $11.50), the All Kale Caesar (shredded kale with Marcona almonds and parmesan) or the spinach-mushroom (with sauteed spinach, mushrooms and hard-boiled egg for $10.25). You can also pair them with another menu option, such as a sandwich or, if you're cheating, shrimp. We don't do the shrimp, but we're not here to judge.

709 Don Cubero Alley, 820-9205
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday

Yin Yang

Setting aside how hard it is to not go full-on pork or chicken at this fine Chinese establishment, we can fully recommend the sesame tofu ($8.95). Crispy on the outside and utterly un-gooey on the inside, this is the dish to convert tofu skeptics and, when served alongside veggie fried rice or egg drop soup, a completely satisfying meat-free option.

Design Center,
418 Cerrillos Road, 986-9279,
Lunch and dinner daily

Pizza Centro

Another must for vegetarian newbies, Pizza Centro is so good you'll barely notice you're missing the meat. Try either the Alphabet City (flash-fried eggplant, mushroom, spinach, artichoke hearts and more), the Hudson (skip the bacon, revel in the mushroom, jalapeño and onion) or any of their fine salads (they'll leave the meat off of most versions). Pies run from $12-$18 and are baked thin, New York- style—we're not saying it's the same thing, though, so relax. Remember they do slices ($3-$3.95) for lunch only, because that one's broken our dinnertime hearts more than once—though we did totally demolish an entire pizza that one night.

South Capitol: Design Center,
418 Cerrillos Road, 988-8825

Eldorado: Agora Center,
7 Avenida Vista Grande, 466-3161

Southside: San Isidro Plaza,
3470 Zafarano Drive, Ste. D, 471-6200

Hours and days vary; lunch and dinner beginning at 11:30 am

Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café

One of the main reasons to not go vegan or vegetarian is the almost immediate self-righteous attitude these things spawn, but I'll admit to having been self-righteous about Annapurna's as an omnivore—I thought it was just for hippies. But you can't go wrong with the Indian sampler plates ($11.95) or that glorious standby of creamy spinach goodness, saag paneer ($9.95). Annapurna's also carries veggie wraps and burgers, plus awesome sandwiches, great desserts and chai. The menu is massive.

1620 St. Michael's Drive, 988-9688
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily

Pyramid Café

This may be one of the best spots in town for everyone to get a little something they want, from carnivores and omnivores to straight vegans. While going veggie, it's hard to beat Pyramid's falafel plate ($8.95). With a slight crisp around the edges and a perfectly fluffy hummus in which to dip those bad boys, you'll not only feel satisfied, you'll feel healthy enough to stop across the parking lot at Dulce right after for a little treat. Falafel also comes in sandwich form at Pyramid ($7.35), and there are tons of other options as well, like the vegetable moussaka (a Tunisian-style casserole with eggplant and roasted peppers) and the vegetarian couscous with veggies and tomato saffron ($10.75).

505 Cordova Road, 989-1378
Lunch and dinner daily

Plaza Café Southside

It's not so bad being a vegetarian in New Mexico since our regional cuisine can so easily forego meat, but the Plaza Café's Southside location does have a particular item that we've been salivating over—the Impossible Burger ($12.49). This thing looks and cooks and even tastes so much like meat you'll barely notice the difference, and it's 100 percent made from plants. Add cheese and chile and you're really getting somewhere. To be fair, it's not exactly the same thing, but for new converts or longtime meat-free folk, this one hits the spot.

3466 Zafarano Drive, 424-0755
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily