MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) - Thanksgiving is beloved for its rich and heavy foods like stuffing, gravy, and pie, but after a few days of leftovers, you might want a bit of a break.

A restaurant in Manchester is offering plant-based options, making it a unique place to bring family and friends after tomorrow's big meal.

"Parsley has a lot of good nutrition," Shawn Dickensheets, owner of 21 Oak in Manchester, tells us.

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So maybe it's fitting that 21 Oak has a plant in it's name.

Shawn Dickensheets started this small, Vegan restaurant over six years ago after noticing that people tended to have mixed feelings about a particular slice of the food pyramid.

"They'd be like, 'What's that?', and I'd be like, 'Well, that's cauliflower, that's brussels sprouts'," explained Dickensheets.

An eyeopener that not everyone regularly eats fresh produce led Shawn to plant the seeds of a menu that would blossom to include Vegetarian variations on classics like buffalo wings and burgers.

"Their vegetable experience might be canned green bean, so it's not a scary or weird experience, because a lot of times I hear those words," Dickensheets noted.

In the era of supply chain issues, Shawn's had to get creative in balancing his meals with plant-based protein sources.

He's had to forego a main Vegan staple.

"Tofu's really hard to find right now," Dickensheets explained.

Ditching the animal proteins, like egg and anchovy, in a traditional Caesar dressing just means Shawn has another opportunity to let his imagination grow like a weed, a seaweed.

"We use capers, kelp, and some other sea vegetables to get that [anchovy] taste without the anchovy]. We're substituting an ocean taste, because fish relates to the ocean, you know, salty, briny, so we're doing a salty, briny," said Dickensheets.

Maybe you want to satisfy a craving for fried food without that greasy feeling after.

21 Oak's falafel sandwich is fried up fresh with chickpea flour instead of wheat.

"It's going to help it bind together without being doughy. It's all designed to be fast, fast, but fresh," says Dickensheets.

You might be drawn in by one or two menu items that are similar to meat, but at 21 Oak, a love of vegetables just might take root too.

"We prepare something with similar flavors so you can identify with it and it'll be delicious, and you can come back whether you're a vegetarian or not," added Dickensheets.


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