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Me and a Key West chicken

Me and a Key West chicken

Warm sunshine, palm trees swaying, sparkling clear water, vegan French toast…chickens roaming the streets…you can find all of this in eclectic Key West.

(More on the chickens in a minute…)

My mom- and dad-in-law, Hanes, and I went to Key West for a cousin’s wedding in late December. What a fun and unique place it is!

It was a joyful adventure to discover vegan food along the way and at our destination too.

On the first day of the (very long) schlep down to the Southernmost Point of the USA, we stopped in Jacksonville for lunch.

We found Mossfire Grill using the always handy HappyCow.net, and check out what we ate there!

The fried tempeh tacos with a side of flavorful black beans and rice

The fried tempeh tacos with a side of flavorful black beans and rice

The scratch-made green chile, black bean, and corn burger with a side of fries

The scratch-made green chile, black bean, and corn burger with a side of fries

We stopped for the night in Deerfield Beach, where we found Sri-Thai Asian Fusion restaurant for dinner.

I asked if there was fish sauce in their curries (some places use it and others don’t), and the server said they usually do, but the chef could whip up a batch without it just for us. Wasn’t that nice?

So I got a vegan, delicious, very fresh red curry with just the right amount of spice.

Red curry with tofu and veggies

Red curry with tofu and veggies

Up and at ’em the next day, we hit the road and stopped in Islamorada, FL for lunch. Recommended by my bro-in-law, Morada Bay Beach Cafe was the spot.

The atmosphere and view were absolutely breathtaking. And the food? Divine.

I ordered the watermelon salad with red onions, basil, and balsamic vinegar, sans the feta cheese. It was juicy, fresh, and perfect. I also got a side of coconut rice with green chiles, and Hanes shared his Mediteraneo platter of hummus, olives, and roasted peppers with me.

Served up with sunshine

Served up with sunshine

Finally, we drove into Key West, and we noticed something right away…the chickens! These “gypsy chickens,” as The Chicken Store calls them, are:

“the most beautiful and the most free and wonderful chickens in the world! At the end of the movie ‘Chicken Run,’ where do you think those hard-working, freedom-loving chickens went? The mythical island where they could be happy and be left alone, and scratch around in the dirt, and not worry about being chopped up and extruded into pot pies? It was Key West!”

I just love that! The people at the Chicken Store must be veg.

A local told us that more than 100 years ago the chickens were used for cockfighting, a terrible “sport” that pits the roosters against one another in a fight to the death.

When it was outlawed (as it should be!) in Key West, the people just released the chickens to fend for themselves. After a legal battle, the chickens were protected by local law. So the chickens are now safe in Key West! For more info on the gypsy chickens, click here.

Look at this beautiful chicken that I got to meet not too far from Ernest Hemingway’s house:


Speaking of Ernest Hemingway’s house, we got to go visit it and its famous six-toed cats! The home was beautiful, and it was cool to see where the (in)famous author lived, but I was particularly fond of the cat decor. What good taste Mr. Hemingway had in art and curtains!

After site seeing, we referred to the sheet of veg and vegan friendly restaurants that the thoughtful bride and groom had provided, and decided on The Cafe for lunch.

Key West 46

Check out the slideshow below (by clicking on any of the photos) of the yummy food and drinks we got there!

After that refreshing lunch, we went to our hotel and got ready for the main event: the wedding! It was beautiful at serene Fort Zachary Taylor, and the reception was on the top floor of La Concha with terrific views of the whole island.

The considerate bride and groom had made sure there was a vegan meal for us at the reception, and it was fantastic! (So good in fact that our plates got a few envious looks from friends and family at our table):


A portobello mushroom with peppers, asparagus, and potatoes smothered in a savory roasted red pepper sauce.

We danced the night away at the reception, having fun with relatives we wish we could see more often and celebrating Jake and Sarah. Congrats, you two!

The next morning, it was time to go back to Charleston. On the way out of town we stopped by Help Yourself, a vegan friendly grocery and cafe, for some breakfast. It was a scenic little spot with friendly people and oodles of that Key West laid-back vibe.

We ordered the soy mocha and vegan French toast, which I ate with many a “nom nom yum-my” sound.

As we drove away, I bid farewell to the Southernmost Point.

Solong chickens, TTFN sparkly teal water, catch you later six-toed cats! I will see them all next time. Because I am definitely going back.

To Gypsy Chickens and Vegan Food!