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Down with the GVP!

vegplate.JPG

Let's get something straight: A vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat meat. It's not someone who loves vegetables. Or dislikes composed meals. Or thinks food doesn't benefit from seasoning, and saucing, and a variety of textures and grains and cooking methods.

I'm speaking, of course, about the dreaded "grilled vegetable plate." I was at a popular D.C. restaurant today for a lunch panel and the room's special menu didn't include a vegetarian option. No problem, the hosts assured me they had other vegetarians and had cleared this with the restaurant beforehand. So when the waiter came around, I asked after the vegetarian meal. "Butternut squash risotto," he said. Perfect.

Then he came back. Actually, the kitchen was doing a grilled vegetable plate. He hoped that was alright. It wasn't. The grilled vegetable plate -- or the GVP -- is so lazy as to be legitimately offensive. That meal cost actual money. Was pasta really too difficult of a charge? A sandwich? Frittata? Stir fry? Gazpacho? Stew? Curries? Pizza? Salad? Bruschetta? Dumplings?

I can keep going. And this isn't secret knowledge. There are a lot of books about cooking things without meat. And the menu at the restaurant in question actually includes items without meat. I would've been quite happy with the Porcini ravioli, for instance.

I ended up asking for pasta and being told that four other people had ordered the grilled vegetable plate. But after an uncomfortable exchange (where I might've called GVPs terrible, which I probably shouldn't have done) I got some pasta anyway. So what's the point of this post? Unity.

Vegetarians of the world need to stop accepting the GVP. It's an insult, both from the kitchen to the diner, and from the kitchen to itself. It's not that hard to cook without meat, and choosing to eat less meat shouldn't result in a form of culinary punishment for diners. We can do better. Change is possible. We are the ones we've been waiting for. So say it with me: "No. The grilled vegetable plate is not acceptable. Do you have pasta? Or pizza? Or salads? Or an employee trained in the art of putting different kinds of foods together on a plate in order to create a satisfying dining experience for customers? Because if not, my party and I will go elsewhere."

Photo credit: Mark Gail/The Washington Post

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 3:24 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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Comments

I might have teared up a little at this.

Oh so, so, so true.

Posted by: thescuspeaks | April 7, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

yes, grilled veggie plates are often very unimaginatively prepared....and very, very skimpy.
three steamed julienned carrots, poorly cooked broccoli cluster, some droopy zucchini slices, and often, there is a handsome price.
there is always the old standby of a caesar salad, without the anchovy dressing, no chicken....just a couple of leaves of butter lettuce.
that is how many vegetarians stay so thin!!!
we are often over-charged and under-fed in restaurants:-)
go get indian food:-)

Posted by: jkaren | April 7, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

HELL YEAH!!!

YAAARRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhh this made me so happy.

*GRIN!*

Posted by: MyrtleParker | April 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Adding myself to the chorus of agreement; God, these things are so terrible. I've been in situations similar to this where they were foisted on my for lack of other vegetarian options, and each time it's made me feel like an animal, consuming my requisite amount of bland nutrition for the day... ugh. Makes you want to drop Bittman's vegetarian book on their foot.

Posted by: Mike_Russo | April 7, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I attended a conference in Austin, TX some years ago - a good food town that can accommodate vegetarians well - and my colleague suffered many, many steamed vegetable plates as I watched.

No protein for him for days. They finally grilled up a slab of tofu - on the night they served salmon to everyone else, which fit his not-quite vegetarian profile.

The kitchen staff at this conference hotel seemed to be totally unconnected to the food community right outside it's doors - Whole Foods world HQ was a 5 minute drive away.

Bah!

Posted by: RalfW | April 7, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree, GVP is awful.

Posted by: KevHall | April 7, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I think this is one of the big walls to people eating vegetarian more often: the idea that a main course can be savory, satisfying, and filling, without meat. And the grilled vegetable plate just doesn't satisfy.

I don't suppose you'd like to share with us what restaurant this was?

Posted by: BiscuitGirl | April 7, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

While I agree with you about the general unimaginativeness and blahdom of the GVP, I take some exception to the statement that a vegetarian is "not someone who loves vegetables." Everyone should love vegetables! And it is possible to do a very complex, composed, interesting, and tasty vegetable plate.

I am not a vegetarian myself (though I often prepare vegetarian meals, both for ourselves and friends), but my daughter has been a strict vegetarian since she was 14. At that age, she really didn't like vegetables that much, and we used to call her the "pizzaterian." Not so good for the health, even with that dab of arugula on top. Fortunately, she's grown up now and understands the need to balance whole grains, vegetables, and protein-laden substances.

Best vegetarian restaurant menu ever is at Green Zebra, in Chicago. Check it out for ideas here: http://www.greenzebrachicago.com/menu.html

Posted by: JJenkins2 | April 7, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the only things worse than the GVP are the Grilled Vegetable Napoleon or "terrine," which are almost invariably merely a GVP in pseudo-composed form. I was recently served a "terrine" that consisted of grilled vegetables in an upended glass; tableside, the waiter removed the glass with a flourish and the diced vegetables scattered willy-nilly across the plate.

Posted by: slyc | April 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

AMEN, BROTHER. PREACH IT!

Posted by: annielev | April 7, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Real American eat meat. Go somewhere else, it will just make it easier for the rest of us to go somewhere nice.

Here is a news flash, its not natural for humans to be vegetarians. If your allergic, thats one thing. Otherwise your just being a pomp's jerk.

Posted by: Natstural | April 7, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

So true - American restaurants are so insulting and arrogant most of the time in throwing useless vegetarian dishes to their customers.

I mean for American Eatery business folks who eat vegetarian food do not exist!

Posted by: umesh409 | April 7, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

You don't even have to be vegetarian to find the GVP depressing. It's lazy, lame, and uncreative. That may be a good, but a meal has a variety of styles in it. Is it really so hard for a chef to combine beans, veggies, and bread?
Lets also note here the complementary problem: the existence of a lone, usually portabello based, vegetarian option on menus. I love meat, but I'd order vegetarian entrees if they had even 1/2 the variety of meat options.

Posted by: etdean1 | April 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Natstural: Actually, I think you're the one being a pomp's jerk.

*snicker*

Posted by: charlie14 | April 7, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Natstural, in the words of a famous ruler, do you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree? It's pointless to discuss what is and isn't natural.

Posted by: maralenenok | April 7, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I fully appreciate your point of view on this. Want more frustration? Try being vegan. It's shocking how many trained chefs and waitstaff don't seem to understand that eggs or cheese are animal products.

It's a shame that Vegetate closed, leaving vegans in DC with either Sticky Fingers Bakery or the task of educating the district's restauranteurs.

Posted by: tylerstone | April 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps in the next session of Congress there will be an individual mandate for meat: one would not have to eat meat, but simply have to pay for it. The savings resulting from those who must buy meat but choose not to eat it could then be used to subsidize non-meat dishes for others. It's a fair deal in that everybody would get the desired food and nobody would be taxed: in fact, meat would be cheaper because everyone would be buying it, which would in turn make vegetables cheaper.

CBO ought to do a study!

Posted by: rmgregory | April 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Try getting a nice cup of decaf coffee to go with the veggie entree.

Posted by: tl_houston | April 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I've never commented on Ezra's blog, but now I have to! Amen to this post. I'm not a vegetarian because of health or nutrition or because I don't like prepared food. (I'm one for ethical and environmental reasons.) Vegetarians get treated like ascetic rabbits. Besides, many of the veg. options he mentions aren't actual meals; if I'm buying a meal somewhere I'd like some protein ...and preferably some cheese melted on top. Anyway, thanks, Ezra!

Posted by: chet2888 | April 7, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I went to Taberna del Alabardero for restaurant week last year. This is a high-end, normally veg friendly restaurant. In fact, I chose it specifically because they have many veg options on their regular menu, and so I assumed they would be veg friendly at restaurant week as well. The initial RW menu, however, had no veg option. So I asked. The waiter checked with the kitchen and came back and told me the veg option was a GVP. After a slightly heated exchange with the manager where they refused to relent and give me something else on the menu for RW, I walked out. STAND UP TO THE GVPs!!!

Posted by: jurista78 | April 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Remind me again; what part of the cow does the "vegetable" come from?

I'm kidding, of course.

I was actually offended yesterday when I saw the ad for KFC's new "Double Down." If you haven't seen this monstrosity google it. But be warned; you should have a barf bag ready. It is that wrong.

Posted by: nisleib | April 7, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"I was at a popular D.C. restaurant today for a lunch panel and the room's special menu didn't include a vegetarian option. No problem, the hosts assured me they had other vegetarians and had cleared this with the restaurant beforehand."


It sounds like your beef should be with the hosts who selected the menu, rather than with the restaurant.

If you don't like what's being served at a special event, don't eat. To choose vegetarianism is your choice, but to demand that others cater to your special needs is more than a bit pompous. Or should all of us who find the limited menus at special events less than satisfying demand our preferences be catered to as well?


What? No pork option? Can you not throw some bacon, lettuce and tomato on toast? What kind of joint is this?

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 7, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

speaking of veggies, my oxtails cooked in a tagine turned out pretty tasty and tender. Same thing can be done with beef shanks. Makes a rich tasty stew sort of concoction.

Posted by: bdballard | April 7, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Cafeteria lunch options in the federal facilities (cabinet departments, agencies, etc) can be pretty grim, but there's usually a "meat and 2 veggies" sort of station, and I've learned that the best bet is to choose three of the tastiest looking servings of vegetables and skipping all the "who knows where they've been and for how long" meat options.

Posted by: bdballard | April 7, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Move to the West Coast. People out there understand that not everyone wants to eat nothing but meat.

I'm not even vegetarian, but since moving to DC I haven't gotten over how veggie-hostile this place is. Every item on every menu has meat. It seems almost aggressively mean.

Posted by: dal20402 | April 7, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I sympathize. Being a vegetarian can be tough, and I've found many Americans simply don't comprehend that you can have a good meal that doesn't have meat, partly because many people grow up only eating vegetables steamed or in salads. Of course vegetables taste bland if that's all you do to them! How good would meat taste if you simply boiled it?

Of course, it's much better for vegetarians now than it was a couple decades ago. My parents - Indian - had to endure years where all they could eat at restaurants were pastas with marinara sauce or salads. My dad when he was at engineering school would have to subsist on cheese sandwiches for days.

All that being said, Ezra, bsimon1 has a point: if it was a special event, your room to complain is somewhat more limited. And it does seem like demanding a vegetarian option is a bit bothersome, given that you aren't actually a vegetarian. In that case, it isn't all that unlike someone demanding pork if all that's on the menu is chicken and beef, as bsimon said.

Posted by: Isa8686 | April 7, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Go Ezra! Spoken like a true herbivore (but with the fire and spit of a carnivore!). ;^)

Posted by: onewing1 | April 7, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, are you a full-on veggie now? I thought you were just restricting yourself to one or two meat dishes a week?

Posted by: MosBen | April 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes....BUT...frankly, I'm just as sick of being offered pasta as the only meat alternative, and given a choice between past and grilled vegetables I might choose the veggies.

There are so many creative ways to cook vegetable entrees, but even experienced cooks (see the last season of Top Chef) can't seem to do it right. Please...we want and deserve choices just like the meat eaters. And we're a growing market share. It pays to serve our needs.

Posted by: ec3663 | April 7, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

@tylerstone: Actually, DC has a wealth of vegetarian and vegan options at restaurants. The website www.VegDC.com is a great resource.

Posted by: mfisch20 | April 7, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Um, trying to feel some sympathy...

Really I am...

Oh, screw this -- gimme the video of that bacon one more time!

Posted by: leoklein | April 7, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Great read!

By the way, if you think it's bad there, come to the South. I live in Alabama and I could almost be a little thrilled to get a GVP. Usually the only option I get is a sad little salad of less-than-fresh iceberg lettuce, a few shreds of carrots, and a cucumber slice...then top that with a little stare of confusion because you don't want any meat. I never thought I'd be tired of french fries, but I'm there :)

Posted by: VegGirl | April 7, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree. The worst is when they assume you want salad with your veggie burger instead of fries. I also kind of detest portobello mushroom "burgers." I also hate that veggie entrees are the same price. Really? The grilled vegetables that cost 50 cents to buy, no thought, and could be prepared by the bus boy are gonna cost $20 like a steak that took years to raise and gallons and gallons of water, food, pesticides and antibiotics to grow?

Posted by: Krstn | April 7, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

"Natstural, in the words of a famous ruler, do you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree? It's pointless to discuss what is and isn't natural. "

You're missing the point. Eating a meat-less diet IS unnatural for human beings, since we evolved to eat a mixed diet of meat, nuts, wild oats, and the like. That's why vegetarians usually have to eat a complex balance of different types of plant-life, and often supplement it with vitamin pills - otherwise, they don't get the benefits that would come from simply eating some meat every week.

Now, if you were a pescatarian instead . . .

Posted by: guardsmanbass | April 7, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

A number of years ago, I was on a consulting assignment in Louisiana. I'm pretty much an omnivore, so I enjoyed becoming familiar with the amazing food of the region. However, life was complicated by my two colleagues on the assignment. One was Hindu, and had tasted meat exactly once in her life, on her honeymoon (and promptly threw it up). The other was on the Atkins diet. Going to a new restaurant with these two was... an adventure. The number of times my long-suffering Hindu colleague had to send a house salad back because the cook had put "just a LITTLE bacon on - just fo' flavuh" was amazing.

Posted by: jadedoptimist562 | April 7, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is a vegetarian?

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Huzzah, this (ALMOST...) makes up for his dislike of cats!

Posted by: katrina92886 | April 7, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

@guardsmanbass No, the commenters, now plural, who are missing the point are the ones who think that the naturalness or lack thereof of a vegetarian diet have anything to do with the subject at hand.

Posted by: maralenenok | April 7, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

For someone who's a vegetarian, you just devalued good vegetables (vs. grains). Come to California and we'll show you what it's about.

Since you're a vegetarian, and I'm not, because you don't eat meat you should consider another factor. I took a vegan friend out to a Mongolian Grill for lunch (her first time to such), since we could both choose freely our mix of sauces and ingredients for the flat stir fry. When we got up to the front of the line, the actual 'mongolian grill' she looked at me and commented somewhat sardonically, "do you think there's a part of the grill where they don't cook meat?"

I would suspect a lot of those tasty black marks on the GVP are made so due to the meat fond coming off the grill itself.

Oh, and Ezra, I love nothing more than a GVP during the summer - for real money no less - if they include condiments like Tahini or Tatziki sauces or a good Raita. Get over your bad self... on occassion, but not when talking about policy.

Posted by: Jaycal | April 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope the meat eaters in your party want to show some solidarity.

Posted by: zosima | April 7, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a vegetarian is just someone with a stick up his bunghole.

If you choose to deviate from social norms, you are of course free to do that and no one should criticize you for that choice.

But you can't then be shocked and appalled when, occasionally, society fails to conform to your expectations.

A restaurant kitchen at lunch, especially during an event, is a phenomenally busy place and it is unseemly to whine about not getting special, individualized treatment. If that's what you wanted, you should have called ahead. After all, you're the one who wants to be different, not the restaurant.

Posted by: pj_camp | April 7, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I have this friend of mine. He's Hindu. He doesn't eat meat, but I almost don't consider him a vegetarian. He has leather couches, leather jackets, leather everything, even when a non-leather alternative is possible. I asked him about the seeming paradox, and he shrugged that he simply avoids eat meat. It's not the result of reflection and consideration; rather, it's the result of being raised to avoid meat. He wasn't, on the other hand, raised to not use and wear leather. Is that typical for Hindus? And would you consider him vegetarian?

Posted by: lbj3 | April 7, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Solidarity -- I keep kosher (and I'm vegetarian as well), and I can't count the number of times I've found myself picking at a fruit salad, or worse, just staring at the other diners without eating anything myself. Obviously it's not possible for non-kosher restaurants to provide kosher food (though some do allow plating food from an outside caterer, which is great), but vegetarians are certainly a big enough minority that they ought to be, uh, catered to.

Posted by: RK00 | April 7, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I was at a business dinner at a steakhouse recently. I was looking forward to a meal of delicious sides of mashed potatoes, string beans and mushrooms. But the waiter, upon overhearing that I am a vegetarian, insisted (oddly strongly and despite my protestations that I'd prefer some sides) on giving me the GVP. Bland, gross, and bland.

It's tough enough going vegetarian in certain business settings - restaurants need to get out of their box on this issue.

Posted by: ignoreland | April 7, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

@Ezra

This lets you know, that you need to come back to California, where you can eat deliciously and comfortably vegetarian style pretty much anywhere you go ;) (vegan too!)

Seriously though, this sounds like a bigger problem than just a lack of creativity: this restaurant obviously had more than just the gvp 'cause you ended up with the pasta. What kind of place is this that insists on giving you a particular item, when you in fact, want something else that they already have? It's not like you insisted they go out and buy ingredients not in the kitchen, they already had what you wanted! Terrible, awful customer service.

@ignoreland

That's terrible. I hope that next time you are in such a situation, you raise a total fuss and make them give you those sides (on this I'm serious).

Posted by: silentbeep | April 7, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Thank you. I've been saying this for years, but from a much smaller platform.

That said, I actually had a sublime GVP--in Athens. Melt-in-your-mouth slices of peppers. However, don't get your hopes up for Europe--currently I'm in Trier and last night we went to a recommended Italian place. I ended up eating spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. I wouldn't have minded some grilled veggies on the side.

Posted by: KathyF | April 8, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Ezra! I don't know why so many restaurants seem resistant to just putting the grilled vegetables on pasta or between two slices of bread, but the public reminder that vegetarians want to be full and satisfied when they're done eating is much appreciated.

Posted by: Coatlicue | April 8, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

I have to disagree with EK on this one (for a change).

I object when I'm served vegetarian options which are either a big bowl of starch or huge slabs of tofu/seitan, with a paltry sprinkling of vegetable pieces. The profit margin pressures of the restaurant actually should make them prefer to serve what you're asking for (pasta being über cheap yet strangely priced like most other entrees), but it's not a healthy or (for me) satisfying way to eat. The more veggies, the better is what I say!

Sure, it would be great for said veggies to be combined in a thoughtful way, but I'd still take the GVP over a ton of penne with a thin coating of sauce and one broccoli floret on the side.

Posted by: le_sacre | April 8, 2010 3:14 AM | Report abuse

That's great, Ezra! I agree, BTW. I found a new lentil thing: Madras Lentils 10oz - "Tasty Bite". It tastes like a cheese dish to me. Make it yourself with lentils you cook in veggie broth a little tomato paste and cumin or some of the Vons/Safeway Tuscan Tomato & Basil Bisque soup. Before this I didn't really like lentils and always had to make split pea. Bon apetite!

Posted by: sfpcjock | April 8, 2010 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Although I'm a meat eater, I really do like vegetables. Vegetables taste good when prepared in many different ways. Grilling isn't one of them. I have never understood why anyone would put vegetables with no seasoning under a flame until they turn shrivelled and squeaky and partly charred? Have these restaurants never heard of a stir fry?

Posted by: kea_ | April 8, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

@guardsmanbass

Obviously you are not vegetarian and have never read one "vegetarian nutrition" book or you would not say this. This is wrong, so wrong. The only (known) vitamin that vegetarians may have trouble getting from only plant sources is B12; however, there are some vegetables that contain B12, but you have to eat them often to maintain a good level of B12. There are also enriched soy milks and cereals that take care of this vitamin. I, for one, do not take vitamins and supplements...I just eat a variety of foods every day. Do you, as a meat eater, eat a balanced diet? Based on the junk that restaraunts serve, I bet not. A steak, potato, and a salad smothered in dressing is not a balanced meal. It's funny how no one questions whether or not you're getting adequate nutrition.

And on another note about something being natural. There are so many things that we do that "aren't natural" like driving a car, flying in a plane, talking on a cell phone, etc. So, for anyone to say that being a vegetarian isn't "natural" is a ridiculous statement. Don't confuse natural with social norm.

Posted by: VegGirl | April 8, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra-- Amen, brother!!!!

Posted by: petefarq | April 8, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I am not a vegetarian, but I agree (I've tried eating vegetarian several time in my life, but bacon is my downfall). Anyway....

I love good vegetarian food and have found at restaurants that offer good vegetarian entrees, those entrees look just as good on the menu as the meat entrees. It not like vegetarian offerings are an after thought.

Posted by: BottyGuy | April 8, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes yes yes!

My worst GVP experience was actually SVP. Yes...steamed veggie plate. I was at a wedding and the veggie entree was--and I'm not exaggerating here--a steamed selection of each of the vegetables off of the Hors d'œuvre tray. Yum.

Posted by: glen5 | April 8, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the rant but I feel things are getting better. In Atlanta I've never had problems with getting vegetarian substitutions. The one caveat to this is in places like steak restaurants, etc but I only go there for work events and then I'm not paying for the the tree of broccoli that they bring out as my meal : )

Posted by: mlmgav | April 8, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Does your sense of entitlement extend to your restaurants too? Eat somewhere else.

Posted by: kingstu01 | April 8, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Go Ezra!
Go Ezra!

(Currently eating the last of the Deborah Madison potato-mushroom gratin that was supposed to be for last Shabbos)

Posted by: 4jkb4ia | April 8, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

(Once you made the stock this was extremely simple to get in the oven)

Posted by: 4jkb4ia | April 8, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm vegan for ethical reasons and despite what was said, above, about Europe, I had a lovely time in Paris and really didn't have any major food issues. With just a smidgen of pre-planning and a hefty dose of politeness (a little knowledge of French etiquitte goes a long way), our group of two vegans and a vegetarian were served some of the most delicious meals we'd ever eaten. French lentils, far more delicate than the ones we typically eat in the U.S., prepared well, are like little tasty bubbles on your tongue. Mmmm.

As far as the pasta with garlic and oil Kathy F. was served, Pasta Aglio con Olio is a traditonal dish found on most Italian menus, so I don't know if that really counts as a veg substitution.

Yeah, there are times I end up skipping a meal, usually because someone didn't know there were vegans in the group when they chose the restaurant or I'm at a meeting. It's not a big deal though. I only feel uncomfortable when other people make a big deal out of it, being like "OMG! YOU'RE NOT EATING" making the entire table turn and stare. I try to remind them that I'm there for the companionship/meeting, not for the food, which is true. :)

Posted by: scrappyrat | April 8, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

One issue that was only passingly touched on is that of balanced meals for vegetarians. Even at "nice restaurants" (e.g. Washingtonian's top 25 restaurants) where they were warned ahead of time about vegetarians, I've mainly been served small amounts of vegetables, and mostly starches and fats. In my experience it's rare for even a gastronomic restaurant to have proteins for a vegetarian. The French restaurants have usually had steamed vegetable plates or risotto, the American ones often with pot pies of vegetables in a sauce. It's usually delicious, if not a bit rich, but it's not well-balanced.

At East Asian and Indian restaurants, protein is not a problem, of course. Fat, on the other hand, seems endemic to types of restaurant cuisine.

Btw, even you meat eaters out there, do you ever feel like you're being malnourished at US restaurants? When my French in-laws come, they get sick of eating out (even in top gastronomic New York / DC restaurants) after a few days, complaining of too much fat and unbalanced meals.

Posted by: GrandArch | April 9, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

How true this is! I've found that it is especially bad in the south. When I go to visit my family, we always wind up going to meat-centric places, and I have to resort to the all-starch platter. Mac'n'chees and mashed potatoes, anybody?

Posted by: jrrunnels | April 12, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

How true this is! I've found that it is especially bad in the south. When I go to visit my family, we always wind up going to meat-centric places, and I have to resort to the all-starch platter. Mac'n'cheese and mashed potatoes, anybody?

Posted by: jrrunnels | April 12, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

The GVP and pasta primavera are both on my hit list. I'm sick of going to 4- and 5-star restaurants and having ONE choice, if that, of a vegetarian meal. How talented do these chefs consider themselves if they can only cook with animal protein?
Let's see some creativity, folks.

Restaurants are in the business of SERVICE, not art. Please help make your vegetarian and vegan guests feel welcome.

Posted by: DC_Grrl | April 12, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

From a business perspective in a poor economy, restaurants and caterers who choose not to market to vegan consumers do so at their own risk. Agreed the number of vegans is small compared to those who would be content eating a meal with animal products. But what these *business people* perhaps have not considered is that the vegan community embraces good vegan service with a *huge* amount of referral marketing via blogs and word of mouth. While the community is not large, our impact usually is.

Posted by: Jeannie2007 | April 14, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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