Commentary: Non-meat nonsense

So I’m sure you’ve faces a lot of things in life you wouldn’t eat because they looked gross…but how often are they morally objectionable?

The majority of people do not follow a vegetarian diet, so unless you have religious qualms, the number of times you find a menu clashing with your ethics is probably about zero. But for a growing number of Americans, the restaurant experience can be a very uncomfortable one.

In 2008, 3.2 percent of America was vegetarian, and another 10 percent of the country was following a vegetarian-inclined diet. The number of people who avoid meat is steadily growing in the country, as the veritable number of health benefits vegetarians face seems to swell with their ranks. Yet, for all the increasing demographic, it seems like restaurants are falling further and further behind the curve in keeping with the trends. It forces vegetarians to turn to each other and form communities to help find good places to eat (like this one) but the problem is so distressing in some areas it forces those who want to avoid meat to sacrifice the restaurant experience altogether. It’s unfortunate, especially considering such a large swath of patrons are therefore immediately cut from the dining world.

It’s a shame, but very rarely do I find places willing to actually go out of the way to make the location vegetarian-friendly. It’s the same resistance keeping so many places from crafting a leaner menu…the notion seems to be good taste sells, and to stick with that at all cost. Unfortunately, I think after too long it’s going to run restaurants into the ground to keep things the way they are.

Asian-themed places seem to do the best with the saving grace that is tofu, but few other places actually take the effort for a separate, meat free menu. Vegan burgers are overdone, and salad is not an excuse for a vegetarian menu. I’m consistently disappointed to find these grace menu after menu as the “vegetarian option.” No wonder it’s driving vegetarians out of restaurants!

I’m inclined to hope one day all restaurants will have a real vegetarian menu. And I’m inclined to think one in ten Americans feel the same way.

Have you found a great vegetarian dive? Share your experiences: Comment or email to another.food.critic@gmail.com

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