Commentary: The vegetarian challenge

La Piazza SaladThe more restaurants you try, the more you realize that eating out can be really, really unhealthy.

As we’ve all heard on the news time and again, restaurant meals average 1,000 calories each, with menu items routinely flying far above that. More and more people are eating out. You can do the math. Navigating a restaurant for healthy food can be a real minefield.

The push toward healthy eating is a hard one, and one restaurants have been very reluctant to sign onto, seemingly with an understanding that flavor trumps all. A steady but controversial push for food industry regulation has been met with continued resistance. Having myself lost weight from a steady diet of eating out, I can tell you it’s a long and hard process. You’ll like it better if you never bothered to gain it in the first place.

But the restaurants who adopt this policy are losing touch with an increasingly health-conscious population. As I’ve noted before, more people than ever are looking for healthier ways to eat out. In all, 7.3 million Americans today are vegetarians, and another 22.8 million follow a vegetarian inclined diet, for various reasons, but almost half of them are following the diet seeking a healthy lifestyle. There is a demand for healthier food. But is there a supply? Other than salad? But seriously, who wants to get a salad at every restaurant.

This month, Another Food Critic is going vegetarian. I’ll be trying some of my favorite local restaurants again to get a taste for their vegetarian menus and see what they have to offer to the 13 percent of Americans avoiding meat. But it won’t just be about meat-free food: I’ll also be looking for healthier food, what restaurants make it and who has the most creative items on the menu. I won’t be asking for meals “minus the meat,” because that’s a cop-out, I’ll be really evaluating the menu options for healthy and vegetarian menu items.

The best restaurants get three apples, those who only have vegetarian, not healthy food get two, and those places that really fail to grasp the vegetarian and healthy menu will have one apple. At the same time, some of the local vegetarian-focused restaurants will get first visits, too.

I’m excited to see how Ohio treats its vegetarians! I hope you’ll stay tuned.

What are your favorite vegetarian restaurants in Ohio? Comment or email to


One thought on “Commentary: The vegetarian challenge

  1. Bravo on this adventure of yours and the rating system. As a vegetarian who travels to the Dayton area often from Columbus I am anxious to see the results.

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