Three years ago the Windward House bed and breakfast in Camden added vegan and vegetarian options to its morning menu. Meat eaters have been ordering them ever since.
“We realized that people who eat meat would eat a side of the vegan-vegetarian item,” said Kristen Bifulco, a biologist and transplant from New York City who purchased the established B&B in 2005 with her husband, Jesse, an attorney, and their three kids.
It’s easy to see why vegan items such as banana coconut French toast and double chocolate cookies would draw the interest of omnivorous guests, but even the tofu breakfast burritos keep Jesse busy in the kitchen while Kristen tends to the dining room. The expanded menu is part of the innkeepers’ green business philosophy. The Bifulcos do not use pesticides in the yard and choose cleaning products that don’t include harsh chemicals.
Offering meatless menu items “goes along with our lifestyle of being kinder to the planet,” Bifulco said. “It’s a natural progression of our business plan.”
Most B&Bs will accommodate advance requests for vegetarian or vegan food, said travel writer Hilary Nangle, who runs the Maine Travel Maven website. But she said only a handful of B&Bs in the state advertise meatless breakfast fare.
“I know a few B&Bs that would never label themselves as vegetarian, but they are,” Nangle said. “They can get by without serving the bacon, sausage or ham. But they don’t make a big deal out of it. The term ‘vegetarian’ scares some people.”
While still few in number, B&Bs that dare to use the V word in advertising their breakfasts find it’s a selling point with certain travelers.
“Our menu is what attracts some people to us,” said Karen Curtis, who along with her husband, Edward, runs the all-vegetarian Three Pines Bed and Breakfast in Hancock near Acadia National Park.
The former aerospace engineers built their off-the-grid home on waterfront property with two guest suites. Three Pines is also home to a flock of chickens, an orchard and a kitchen garden. The couple opened the B&B in 2003.
“Serving vegetarian food was pretty much a no-brainer,” Curtis said. “This is our lifestyle and we wanted to share that with people.”
When the weather allows, Three Pines guests enjoy breakfast on an east-facing deck with water views. Fresh, organic eggs from the hens are a regular feature on the breakfast table, as are oatmeal casserole, French toast, apple pancakes and homemade cranberry juice.
Back at the Windward House, the Bifulcos three years ago began offering a full vegetarian menu, alongside a menu that includes meat.
The range of good food and special room add-ons, such as the Vegan Romance Package, which includes vegan wine and strawberries dipped in vegan chocolate, have attracted guests, Kristen Bifulco said.
“I never wanted to be accused of just serving granola and almond milk,” she said. “We want to have real options.”
While many vegans and vegetarians tend to be younger, Bifulco said she and her husband began noticing that older travelers with health conditions, such as diabetes, were requesting plant-based foods.
Now, instead of intimidating meat-eating guests, she said a menu that includes both V words – vegan and vegetarian – is drawing broader interest.
“Definitely there is a lot of experimenting going on in the dining room among people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian,” Bifulco said.
Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. Contact her at: