The vegetarian challenge: wrap-up

Butter Cafe pakcakesAll this month, Another Food Critic has taken a special look at the vegetarian options on local restaurants’ menus. To learn more, click here.

Well, I’ve finished a month of eating vegetarian. Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t change my diet completely, but I’ve definitely gained a new appreciation for the hardships vegetarians face when going out to eat.

I guess two big lessons stick out to me this month. First, in spite of the ever-growing number of vegetarians in America today, there still seems to be a great sense among restaurants that they don’t know how to innovate good vegetarian dishes. Some places seem like they would rather forget about that segment of the audience altogether. Everybody’s got a throwaway salad, everybody’s got fries and ice cream and other things that don’t have meat, but that’s not the same as having a good vegetarian menu. Granted, some places have good cuisine, but they seem to be the restaurants that are good at everything. Even some of my favorite places really dropped the ball in this regard.

Second, and more distressing it seems, many restaurants genuinely seem to misunderstand why more and more people are avoiding meat; health consciousness. From what I’ve seen, there are just as many people eating vegetarian in order to eat healthier as there are people eating vegetarian for moral or ethical grounds. When you replace the meat with equal parts cheese, or you fill veggie dishes with various fried ingredients, you’re really missing the point.

In the past month I’ve definitely changed a lot of my thoughts on vegetarian eating and writing, and I really find it that much more commendable when I find a restaurant that does veggie and healthy food well. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for that in future reviews, and as I return to many of the places I’ve already tried. I look forward to it!

In the meantime, though, I’m going out for a burger.

What do you think? Were my vegetarian reviews useful? Do you want to see more of them? Comment, tweet @anotherFOODsite or email to another.food.critic@gmail.com.

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