Vegan cuisine day

November 1 was apparently World Vegan Day (via Zenpawn).

Earlier this year prior to visiting a city I asked someone who recently lived in that city and since returning to San Francisco has been on a vegan diet whether they knew of any great vegan restaurants in the city I would visit. Their reply was something like “no, I’ve only been vegan since I returned.” Which strikes me as odd — as if one would not eat at a Chinese restaurant because one is not Chinese.

I’ve encountered (mostly through overhearing) this strange attitude before — people who think that going to a vegan or merely vegetarian restaurant is crazy unless one is a vegan or vegetarian, or just maybe if a crazy veg*n friend or relative drags one along. I’ll chalk this up to a combination of general lack of imagination and negative reaction to vegan identity entrepreneurs.

As an alternative, I propose November 2 as “Vegan Cuisine Day” — the message is not “Go Vegan” but “go to a vegan restaurant” and discover a new cuisine.

4 Responses

  1. Gavin Baker says:

    Yeah, it’s weird. So I’m an omnivore:

    On the one hand, when I’ve had meatless meals, I’ve had people ask if I’m a vegetarian — as though, if one does not eat meat with every meal, it must be the case that one never eats it.

    On the other had, I’ve noticed (at conferences and such) that, while meals with meat are typically labeled by the type of meat, meals without meat are typically labeled “vegetarian”. As in, “Do you want the chicken or the vegetarian?” It’s asymmetrical. It implies that only people who self-identify as vegetarians would want to eat that dish. More practically, it’s just not enough information to be useful. For me, “Chicken or broccoli?” and “Chicken or ratatouille?” are NOT the same question. Similarly, imagine if the question was “Meat or vegetarian?” — we could expect that people might answer differently if the meat option was “chitlins” vs. “filet mignon”.

    To me, it’s unfortunate that vegetarians/vegans have made an identity out of their dietary habits — and, in response, some meat-eaters have done so as well. (See the glut of recent advertising campaigns for fast-food restaurants emphasizing how “real men want meat” and the like.) I have no problem with the human consumption of animals raised and slaughtered humanely, consistent with health, safety, and environmental best practices. I would think this should be the ideal compromise position. Instead, we seem polarized to a position that says “Animals are co-equal with humans” and another that says “I eat whatever I want, and you shut the hell up”. It would seem far more productive have a conversation about humane, environmental, and health standards. I would hope that even people who would prefer humans eat no meat would like to attain at least good standards of the aforementioned, and even people who eat would could agree on that as well. But instead of a conversation about our impact on animals, the environment, and our health, we’re stuck in a shouting match. What a waste.

  2. I’ve encountered the same thing. My favorite is the response when asking for vegetarian/vegan options is “you still eat fish though, right?”.

    Anywho, when you are back in Austin, Texas, among the many vegan/vegetarian restaurants I recommend Mr Natural and Mothers. But Austin, like SF, has a lot of good options…

  3. Hi Jordan! I have visited Mr. Natural since 2004. I don’t think I’ve tried Mothers, will check it out next time. My favorite is Cafe La Luz, or rather I’ve had one excellent meal there — only discovered it this year.

  4. […] apparently does vegetable cuisine but does not market itself as vegetarian. I think that’s a good idea. The food was pretty […]

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