the one-veggie-item menu

Most of the restaurants in my area which happen to be considered veg-friendly actually have rather limited vegetarian options. Traditionally, southern chefs consider meat as vital in each food as the heat to cook it. Trust me on this, I’m not exaggerating. Health-concious and open-minded about diet translates into “use chicken instead”. So, I’m not surprised when I walk into a restaurant, scan the menu, and find nothing even incidentally vegetarian. Usually the veg-friendly places (the wait staff knows exactly what a veggie wants to know) have vegetarian option listed. Sometimes it’s steamed veggies. Sometimes it’s “sorry, we can’t help you”.

I think it’s probably a bad idea to not offer a range of veggie options, from healthy and vegan to veggie lasagna complete with egg and cheese. Bad for a lot of reasons. First, it encourages vegans to cook their own food, which I’m betting quite often means healthier and less dependent upon animal products. Second, it encourages a fracture between vegetarians and omnivores, into us v. them. Third, it’s counter to what I want, if only because sometimes a vegetarian will pick up an animal for lunch rather than look elsewhere. I have. Fourth, it’s just stupid, and possibly rude, to knowingly alienate potential customers. Those aren’t businesses that I care to support, especially when I’m the potential customer who’s turned down. So, really, if you’re reading this and run an dining establishment, please treat a lack of options as a customer service issue. Thanks, your soon to be loyal customer. Usually, I send a heavily edited version of that reaction, along with maybe asking for a small concession as an act of faith… and also point out which direction the wiser business decision lay, in my world. Also, customers presenting opportunities for market expansion tend to be regarded somewhat differently than irate customers with complaints.

Alternately, I have a hypothesis that I can assess any restaurant’s veg-friendliness by the quality of the tofu-containing dishes. An establishment without some soy content is probably one that I’m going to consider as also without quality.

OK, that’s a bit harsh. But consider the odds.

Tuesday ~ January 9, 2007 by b

Posted in dining,veg | 7,000 Comments | blog@goodtofu.org

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