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Hoosier Drive In goes vegan

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HOT DOG AND CHILI: The restaurant celebrated World Vegetarian Day on Oct. 1 by rolling out vegetarianChicago-style hot do and vegetarian chili.
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CARROT HOT DOG: Chasity Bickel, manager of The Hoosier Drive in Huntington, prepares a vegan Chicago-style hot dog with a marinated carrot in place of a regular hot dog. Bickel celebrated one month as a vegan on Wednesday.
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CHICKPEA SALAD: The restaurant is serving up an alternative to chicken salad in the form of a chickpea salad sandwich.
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PREPARATION: Bickel prepares one of the Chicago-style carrot hot dogs which she rolled out on Thursday.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

A restaurant in Huntington known for its tenderloins, baked steak and cheese fries is broadening its horizons and trying its hand at vegan offerings.

Chasity Bickel, the manager of the Hoosier Drive-In in Huntington celebrated her first month of being a vegan on Wednesday and was inspired to incorporate vegan and vegetarian options in their restaurant’s menu.

“Yesterday I had a woman who was vegetarian but her husband was a meat eater, so it was nice for them to go to a place where they can both eat something and not just a salad,” said Bickel.

She’s testing out vegan and vegetarian items that will soon become an addition to their current menu under a special section. The foods she’s tested so far have included vegan chili, chickpea salad in lieu of chicken salad, Chicago-style dogs using vegetarian hot dogs from the grocery, and most recently, a vegan Chicago dog that replaces the typical frankfurter with a marinated carrot.

“You marinate them and even the texture tastes like a hot dog. Plus, it’s super healthy,” Bickel said.

Bickel credits her best friend for helping her come up with the new recipes, which have gone over well with customers looking for new options.

“I enjoy talking to them as well and hearing what kind of things they like,” Bickel said. “They love that we have that kind of stuff here.”

Bickel hopes that their vegan offerings will inspire other Huntington restaurants to expand their menus with unique vegan and vegetarian offerings.