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Gourmet Vegan?


BeefCheeks
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I tried a new restaurant in New Haven this weekend, called Ahimsa, which purports to be vegan (it is), raw (it sometimes is), and kosher (it always is). As a food professional, my blinders are off when it comes to great food, whatever it is and however it's prepared. But what is the general feeling on holding up vegan restaurants to the same standards as non-vegan restaurants? Can a vegan establishment be GREAT by non-vegan standards? Or can it just be compared to other vegan restaurants?

Lost in translation.

BC

BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.

"The food was terrible. And such small portions...."

--Alvy Singer

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I think they need to be held up to the same standards of taste and service...

As long as you are judging them against the same category of restaurant.

I am a vegetarian, and most of the most amazing meals of my life have been at non vegetarian places that know how to do amazing vegetarian/vegan food. (Daniel's tops the list).

I've never seen a 4 star vegetarian restaurant. All the ones I've been to have been casual, funky or maybe upscale casual.

Some of them do it better than omnivorous restaurants, some do not.

The top ones I can think of right now are 'The Coup', in Calgary, and 'Rebar', in Victoria.

I would like to see more quality and service at most veggie places.

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I'm not vegan (or even vegetarian), but have been to several vegan restaurants and regularly have dinners with our vegan friends where all the food we prepare is vegan. So, I think I have a decent perspective on what can be done and what you should be able to expect. If this new place is the caliber of Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, the food should be very good by any standards. But then again, it may be like Herbivore, which I have personally found unimpressive. There is no mistaking that food for anything but vegan. Actually, the vegan places that I've found the most successful taste-wise are small family-run Buddist vegan restaurants, like Andy Nguyen's. It may be the specialty products they use or maybe it's the long tradition of cooking that way, but wow, is it good. Even the fake meats and fake fish, which I would assume would be entirely unconvincing, are really good.

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Based on a good deal of experience, much of which quite sad, I am highly skeptical that any vegan restaurant has the potential for "great cuisine".

Considering that most vegans eat in the manner in which they do (that is to say, a vegetarian who eats no animal products of by-products such as eggs, cheeses or other dairy products) either for reasons they perceive as moral or out of concern for their physical heath, I do not believe that is a critical issue. Vegetarian or vegan restaurants can offer up tasty and wholesome fare. I do not believe they can go much beyond that.

I concur that the very best vegetarian offerings to be encountered are in non-vegetarian/non-vegan restaurants. In such places, however, we are usually speaking about one or two dishes and most surely not an entire "cuisine"

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Vegan food can be wonderful.

The key to good vegan food, is not to try and immitate non-vegan dishes.

In my deli for Thanksgiving, as a main 'vegan' course, we offer an Acorn Squash - stuffed with wild rice & cranberries. It's fantastic. It's not trying to be a turkey.

As for vegan baking - that's a little more difficult & depends on the baker. My baker likes to trick me by giving me tastes of stuff and then telling me it's vegan or wheat free only AFTER i give her my opinion. Needless to say, there are tons of vegan things she's made that are great.

For the record - - I'm not vegan - - far from it. Love my steak!

B

"Of all places, only at the table is the first hour never dull."

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As for vegan food at non-vegan restaurants, I would honestly never assume that something that appears to be vegan from the menu description is prepared without any animal products added at all. An egg, a bit of cream, a little grated cheese, a touch of butter, or some chicken stock are all things you might not necessarily know upon sight or even taste that have been added. When going out with our vegan friends, they are always careful to ask if what they are ordering is indeed made without any animal products at all. I assume this is part of why there seems to be more and more vegan restaurants. There is a niche group of diners who want to dine well with the assurance that they can eat anything on the menu, no constraints or hassles. The sheer exuberance and joy with which my friends ponder the menu at Millennium and actually get to choose between many things, rather than one or two, really speaks to that.

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A few friends went to WD-50 and we all had 9-course tasting menus, including one vegan - she proclaimed it "the best meal I have ever eaten."

I think that the best chefs tend not to limit themselves to vegan cooking, but when called upon can turn out amazing vegan food.

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I'm often saddened by the tragedy that is Anglo-American vegetarian food.

I cannot count the number of well meaning vegetarian BBQs I've been to that involved just travesties of ingredients.

Salt, for @#$%'s sake, salt, is there a reason you can't properly season your ingredients?

There is absolutely no reason, beyond a failure of imagination and tradition, that vegetarian or vegan food need necessarily be inferior to meaty food.

It's different, sure, and needs to be judged on its own merits, not against other ingredients.

But I've made dishes in the last year or so with shitake mushrooms that made me say, "bacon, @#$% bacon, it is an inferior manipulation of meat beyond its scope."

edit - Language, language...

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Considering that most vegans eat in the manner in which they do (that is to say, a vegetarian who eats no animal products of by-products such as eggs, cheeses or other dairy products) either for reasons they perceive as moral or out of concern for their physical heath, I do not believe that is a critical issue. 

I think it goes beyond that. There's an element of asceticism in the way most vegans I've met have practiced their dietary code. A lot of them are just not comfortable with the hedonistic enjoyment of food. There are certainly vegans out there who are culinary hedonists, but not many. Even the best vegan food out there -- for example the Korean Buddhist vegetarian restaurant Hangawi in New York -- tends to reflect the ascetic aesthetic. A vegan restaurant styled after a Michelin three-star restaurant, while a theoretical possibility, would sort of be missing the point.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Interesting; I've had the opposite experience. The vegans I'm around want to enjoy rich, fulfilling food. They just don't want it to be at the expense of animals. There's nothing intrinsically ascetic about eating vegan any more than there's anything intrinsically ascetic about eating kosher. They're dietary laws that influence what precisely you can eat, but they don't determine what your food looks like.

The latest vegan meal I made, for instance, had deep crust pizza followed by a sundae bar with chocolate and vanilla soy ice cream, vegan fudge sauce that I had made, strawberry sauce, vegan caramel sauce, whipped topping, and cookies. They took pictures of the food, and a major topic of conversation that night was how it really is possible to eat vegan without it all tasting and looking like health food, and how it's too bad a lot of people don't know this. I'll attend their annual vegan Thanksgiving again this year, which typically has stuffing, gravy, tofurkey, rolls, cranberry sauce, several pies, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, and probably about 5 other dishes I'm forgetting. It's intentionally decadent. And lest anyone thinks they're really unusual, there will probably be about 20 people there, and about half will be vegan. Possibly, there is a difference between the health food granola vegans of the '70s and more "modern" vegans who really want to eat and aren't overly impressed with what has passed for vegan food in the past. The fact that vegan food is getting better and easier to find makes eating a lot more fun and easier than it has been before. We're all grad students, so we couldn't afford to eat at 3-star restaurants if we wanted to, but I know that if one were available, that's where we'd go when we graduate.

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I've just ventured out of the Pennsylvania forums and spotted this thread. I'd like to throw a bone (figuratively of course) to Philadelphia's fantastic Horizons restaurant. It's the best vegan food I've ever tasted. It's well above 95% of the restaurants in the city as well. Philly's (arguably) most notable critic also rated it 4 Bells (our top honor for restaurants).

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...886&hl=horizons

Edited by mattohara (log)

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matt o'hara

finding philly

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Considering that most vegans eat in the manner in which they do (that is to say, a vegetarian who eats no animal products of by-products such as eggs, cheeses or other dairy products) either for reasons they perceive as moral or out of concern for their physical heath, I do not believe that is a critical issue.

I think it goes beyond that. There's an element of asceticism in the way most vegans I've met have practiced their dietary code. A lot of them are just not comfortable with the hedonistic enjoyment of food. There are certainly vegans out there who are culinary hedonists, but not many. Even the best vegan food out there -- for example the Korean Buddhist vegetarian restaurant Hangawi in New York -- tends to reflect the ascetic aesthetic. A vegan restaurant styled after a Michelin three-star restaurant, while a theoretical possibility, would sort of be missing the point.

Yes, this is exactly the point. I think someone (Steingarten?) wrote about a survey of American and British that asked them why they were vegetarian. "Health reasons" was the huge #1, with "ethical reasons" a strong #2. Every other reason was dwarfed by these two reasons. It's interesting to note, then, that America and the UK have by far the largest percentage of people who are vegetarians for reasons other than religion or scarsity of animal-derived foods.

So, here's the thing: If achieving deliciousness is not the cook's primary goal in preparing vegan food and experiencing deliciousness is not the diner's primary desire in consuming vegan food, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that vegan food is not often delicious. Clearly vegetarian and vegan food can be delicious. Look at the wonderful vegetarian food of India, for example. But Indian vegetarian food grew out of an entirely different mindset. They said: "Our religion says that we cannot eat certain foods. Okay, we will cook with the goal of deliciousness within the dietary restrictions imposed by our religion." The result is a great tradition of delicious vegetarian cooking.

Most vegans do not regard their dietary choice in the same way as religiously-restricted people do. For most of them, the dietary restriction is merely part of a larger philosophy of food that places primary importance on perceived health and ethical issues. One is more often to hear a vegan say something like, "I added such-and-such to this dish in order to make a complete protein" than "*I added such-and-such to this dish because these two ingredients are delicious together." I would argue that, while it is not impossible to create delicious food that is vegan, the task is made incredibly more difficult by being so restricted in its use of ingredients that humans are genetically programmed to consume and crave. So long as deliciousness takes a back seat to other issues, it's unlikely that vegan cooking will be particularly delicious. This is especially true with respect to the way vegan cooking is perceived by non-vegans. Non-vegans are used to consuming a wider range of ingredients, including those the body is programmed to crave and consume, and are used to partaking of cooking traditions that prioritize deliciousness (plk's Thanksgiving example, while interesting, doesn't reflect everyday mainstream vegan cooking, nor does it seem particularly hedonistic compared to a mainstream omnivore Thanksgiving). A number of vegans and raw foodists claim to derive gustatory pleasure from their diet, and while I cannot discount their subjective experiences I do think these subjective evaluations are greatly influenced by the loss of context created by a highly restricted diet and also the fact that many of these diets are extremely low calorie and hunger is the greatest seasoning.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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The vegans I'm around want to enjoy rich, fulfilling food.

. . . . .

We're all grad students

Not to sound too much like grandpa, but I went to university once. It's cool to do the vegan thing when you're in a university environment. It's not like the other food is all that great either. But 20 years from now, I assure you nearly every one of your vegan grad-student friends will be eating meat -- or at least fish. The people who stay vegan through careers, parenthood, the degradation of the body and all the other realities of adult life are, in my experience, overwhelmingly the hardcore, righteous vegans: the ones for whom "rich, fulfilling food" is low on the list of concerns, and may even be antithetical to the mindset.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Not to sound too much like grandpa, but I went to university once. It's cool to do the vegan thing when you're in a university environment. It's not like the other food is all that great either. But 20 years from now, I assure you nearly every one of your vegan grad-student friends will be eating meat -- or at least fish.

I have no idea what could happen 20 years from now, but we're all in our mid-30s and married now, so we're getting kind of set in our ways. The only thing that probably won't change is that most of us will still be in university environments -- that's where you tend to stay when you get your doctorate. But anyway, my closest vegan friends grew up in small-town Illinois, in the '70s and '80s, when it wasn't exactly easy or convenient to be vegan. They have been the only vegans around before, so it wouldn't be tough to do it again. And it is getting easier and more convenient to eat vegan. Every town with a Trader Joe's has a supply of fake meats, for those who use it to supplement their vegan food or to make something that looks and tastes familiar.

Most vegans do not regard their dietary choice in the same way as religiously-restricted people do. For most of them, the dietary restriction is merely part of a larger philosophy of food that places primary importance on perceived health and ethical issues. One is more often to hear a vegan say something like, "I added such-and-such to this dish in order to make a complete protein" than "*I added such-and-such to this dish because these two ingredients are delicious together."

I think if you are going to go as far as eating vegan for the rest of your life, it really must go beyond health issues. And vegans are not the only ones who choose to eat certain things on the basis of their ethics. There are many ways to be healthy, and I don't know anyone who has kept up eating vegan for 10 or 15 years just because it's better for you. And I have honestly never heard anyone vegan talk about complete proteins as part of normal conversation. When we talk about food, we talk about new things we've tried that are delicious. When you're eating vegan, talking about making something even more healthy is kind of silly. Most of what you're eating is going to be pretty healthy, though not necessarily, given the abundance of vegan snack food items.

"plk's Thanksgiving example, while interesting, doesn't reflect everyday mainstream vegan cooking, nor does it seem particularly hedonistic compared to a mainstream omnivore Thanksgiving

No, I didn't go into detail about the chocolates, candies, and other desserts, the marshmallow topped squash casserole, the puff pastry appetizers, the "cheese log", etc., but there is a lot more served there than at my own Thanksgiving, where I do use meat, butter, and cream. And of course it doesn't represent everyday mainstream vegan cooking. It's Thanksgiving.

Edited by plk (log)
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I was a vegetarian (but never a vegan) for nearly a decade, and after the first few years my main reason for not eating meat/fowl/fish was "habit." I was deeply committed to deliciousness in food and sought out the best vegetarian meals by the best chefs in town, including a $250/head white truffle bacchanal on one memorable birthday. Now, it's true I'm not a vegetarian any longer, and that even when I was a vegetarian I found cooking well for my vegan friends to be a bit of a challenge--but I like a challenge. I fail to see why vegan food cannot be outstanding, whether or not an omnivore is motivated to sample it.

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Most vegans do not regard their dietary choice in the same way as religiously-restricted people do. For most of them, the dietary restriction is merely part of a larger philosophy of food that places primary importance on perceived health and ethical issues. One is more often to hear a vegan say something like, "I added such-and-such to this dish in order to make a complete protein" than "*I added such-and-such to this dish because these two ingredients are delicious together."

I think if you are going to go as far as eating vegan for the rest of your life, it really must go beyond health issues. And vegans are not the only ones who choose to eat certain things on the basis of their ethics. There are many ways to be healthy, and I don't know anyone who has kept up eating vegan for 10 or 15 years just because it's better for you. And I have honestly never heard anyone vegan talk about complete proteins as part of normal conversation. When we talk about food, we talk about new things we've tried that are delicious. When you're eating vegan, talking about making something even more healthy is kind of silly. Most of what you're eating is going to be pretty healthy, though not necessarily, given the abundance of vegan snack food items.

I've known dozens and dozens of practicing vegans, not to mention practitioners of even more restrictive dietary philosophies such as raw foodists. Without exception, a primary concern was the perceived health impact of the food and they tended to view food as fuel rather than something that gives pleasure. This may not have been true 100% of the time -- there was occasional splurging. But, in general, if there were two ways to treat an ingredient and one of them is more ascetic (e.g, using raw tomatoes instead of slow-poaching them in extra virgin olive oil), most vegans will choose the more ascetic option unless it is some kind of special occasion.

As for whether your vegan friends are talking about the health aspects of their food, I certainly hope they are. A practitioner of such a restrictive diet needs to pay close attention to make sure they are consuming sufficient protein, etc. -- and especially Vitamin B12.

The larger point I was making, however, was simply that vegans are already facing a steep road to deliciousness due to the fact that the diet is so restrictive. Since health and ethical concerns are the primary reasons for adopting this dietary and lifestyle choice, the road is even more steep. Vegans don't have to sit around talking about making their food more healthy ethical. These priorities pervade the lifestyle. I mean, let's be honest here: we're talking about people who eat salad as often two meals a day on a regular basis.

Now, it's true I'm not a vegetarian any longer, and that even when I was a vegetarian I found cooking well for my vegan friends to be a bit of a challenge--but I like a challenge. I fail to see why vegan food cannot be outstanding, whether or not an omnivore is motivated to sample it.

There's absolutely no reason it can't be outstanding. But it's also a fact that it rarely is. I also think it's worthy of note that most people seem to agree that the most delicious vegetarian and/or vegan food is often prepared by cooks who don't practice those dietary philosophies -- and who, I would argue, have a fundamentally different outlook on food because their primary goal is deliciousness.

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I've known dozens and dozens of practicing vegans, not to mention practitioners of even more restrictive dietary philosophies such as raw foodists. Without exception, a primary concern was the perceived health impact of the food and they tended to view food as fuel rather than something that gives pleasure. This may not have been true 100% of the time -- there was occasional splurging. But, in general, if there were two ways to treat an ingredient and one of them is more ascetic (e.g, using raw tomatoes instead of slow-poaching them in extra virgin olive oil), most vegans will choose the more ascetic option unless it is some kind of special occasion.

Have you looked at any vegan cookbooks lately or read any vegan food blogs? Vegan cooking may have looked like that at one time, but not anymore. There are people who eat ascetically, but that is not the direction things are going. Look at The Voluptuous Vegan for a decent example of what vegan food really looks like. And while you're on that page, scroll down to look at the rest of the books there. Vegan cupcakes is a great book. We use it all the time. Sinfully Vegan and the Mediterranean Vegan Cookbook also look pretty good. Or, Vegan Italiano. Look at the recipes in there and you'll see what it's pretty normal to eat as a vegan. In the last book, it's simple, rustic Italian food that most anyone would enjoy.

As for whether your vegan friends are talking about the health aspects of their food, I certainly hope they are. A practitioner of such a restrictive diet needs to pay close attention to make sure they are consuming sufficient protein, etc. -- and especially Vitamin B12.

Surely anyone who has been eating vegan for over 15 years is well aware of something as obvious as needing protein and vitamin B12. Why would it need to be a topic of discussion between vegans, of all people?

I mean, let's be honest here: we're talking about people who eat salad as often two meals a day on a regular basis.

And I am being honest when I'm telling you that is not what vegan meals necessarily look like. That's what people who are trying to lose weight eat. A vegan meal might include salad on the side, maybe, but to go along with the lasagna and polenta for dinner. Probably a sandwich or vegetarian sushi, or some cous cous for lunch. Or something else that is entirely normal but just isn't made with meat, butter, or cream. This isn't unusual or hedonistic fare for someone who eats vegan -- it's average everyday food.

Edited by plk (log)
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Again, no one is saying that these meals can't be or never are delicious... just that they usually are not. I've given some reasons why I think this is so, based on my experiences with vegans and other health/ethics-based dietary philosophies.

I think it's somewhat telling that one is unlikely to hear a non-vegan talk up the delicious food all his vegan friends eat, and indeed most people seem to agree that the best vegetarian restaurant dishes are more likely to be found at non-vegetarian restaurants.

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I would simply point out that the meals most people eat (vegan or not) are not always delicious. In my experience, most people are not excellent cooks, or at least not all the time. Putting something on the table that tastes just okay is a pretty common approach to cooking and is not unique to vegans. Poorly cooked animal products are not going to improve a dish.

I think it's somewhat telling that one is unlikely to hear a non-vegan talk up the delicious food all his vegan friends eat

All that means to me is that non-vegans probably do not know, or regularly eat with, that many vegans.

and indeed most people seem to agree that the best vegetarian restaurant dishes are more likely to be found at non-vegetarian restaurants.

That may have something to do with the fact that there are many, many more non-vegan than vegan restaurants.

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In a funny coincidence, I was just directed to a 'gourmet vegan' blog today:

The author writes enthusiastic, food-loving/worshipping/admiring things like:

"As naturally and constantly as I breath or blink, I think about food. ... For the last month, quince has been the unholy fruit equivalent of a song that I cannot get out of my head, no matter how hard I try."

She takes beautiful food pictures. She experiments with food. She critically and carefully reviews different vegan restaurants, and vegan-themed meals (cf. the vegan afternoon tea in chicago).

She also reflects on some of the stereotypes surrounding veganism, noting that "some people who are not vegetarian or vegan tend to think about eating veg in terms of deprivation." Disagreeing with this stereotype, she writes:

"The joy and bounty of vegan options and the excitement about the delicious possibilities of ethical eating seem to me a vital part of veg advocacy, and indeed, this seems like a core motivating principal of contemporary veganism."

As this blog (and the books plk recommended) suggest, it is definitely possible (and even, dare I say, likely) that vegans can feel deeply passionate about food, and can make delicious meals which could rival any cuisine. In response to the original poster's, BeefCheeks', question: Can a vegan establishment be GREAT by non-vegan standards?--I answer a resounding "yes!"

Will this be the case every time? Of course not. But to entirely deny the possibility of good vegan food based on one's encounters with a few (or even many) non-foodie vegans does not seem to do veganism, in general, much justice.

And, finally, slkinsey, you wrote: "I think it's somewhat telling that one is unlikely to hear a non-vegan talk up the delicious food all his vegan friends eat"

And yet, within this very thread, many self-confessed non-vegans (plk, bshapiro, and myeslf, to name a few) have spoken in positive, celebratory tones about vegan food.

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Exactly, MaggieL. There are a lot of people for whom that is their approach to eating vegan. It's just not the same veganism we saw in the '70s. Even in that blog you linked to, the author explains that pretty well while in the middle of reviewing a dish at a restaurant she didn't care for:

Maybe it's the sprouts, but this meal had me thinking about the cuisine as kind of "second-wave" vegetarian fare. I don't think this is a classification that anybody actually uses, and it's somewhat imprecise and Western-centric, since it collapses hundreds of years of vegetarianism into a first wave, identifes the 1970s health-food movement in the US as the start of the second wave and puts a third wave somewhere in the past 10-15 years with the beginning of both more "gourmet" vegetarian and vegan restaurants and the DIY vegan cookzines that started de-emphasizing "healthiness" while veganizing comfort foods. Whether or not this classification is useful, it points at the sort of dated quality I felt the veg food in Barcelona had overall.

Cooking vegan can certainly be about making great food and doing everything you can to get great flavors out of the ingredients. Or, experimenting and playing around with things like making vegan twinkies. So, when this is the kind of vegan food you eat at a vegan restaurant (well, maybe not the twinkies, moreso the food you could make from one of the cookbooks I referenced or would get at a place like Millennium), I think the food should be great, whether you are a vegan or not.

Edited by plk (log)
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I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and I have eaten many gourmet vegan meals. None have, unfortunately. been at restaurants.

I spend a lot of time with vegans, both online and in real life, and most of them are obsessed with food. I moderate on veggieboards, which is the largest online message board for vegetarians and vegans. It's like egullet, but specifically for vegetarians and vegans. Most of them are all about the quality as well as the ethics of their food.

All the vegans I am personally friends with, think of food in terms of abundance, not merely as nutrition. It's not just a fuel for the body, but also for the mind, senses and for the earth. Many also find they are much more at peace with themselves because the food they are eating has not caused harm to a living creature (as much as is possible, obviously bugs, etc get killed during harvests, etc.).

Why have none of my gourmet vegan meals been in restaurants?

I think most of it has to do with the fact that none of the restaurants themselves are gourmet. They were all casual dining places, with reasonable prices.

The food was fantastic, but the presentation, service, etc was not gourmet.

Can it be done? Of course. Would the market be there? Depends on the city. Would I like to go there? Damn straight.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't understand - if everyone agrees that they've had great vegan dishes at non-vegan restaurants, why couldn't someone open a vegan restaurant serving all those great vegan dishes? Maybe it hasn't been done yet, but I don't see why not. Maybe it's harder for vegan chefs to get the necessary qualifications? I don't think it's fair to say that vegans aren't interested in the "deliciousness" of the food they eat. Sure, most vegans probably aren't into gourmet food but then most non-vegans aren't either. I think perhaps vegans are just more willing to settle for average food because it's so hard for them to find anything they can eat when they eat out. But that doesn't mean they don't appreciate really great food when they can get it - I know I do!

\Actually, the vegan places that I've found the most successful taste-wise are small family-run Buddist vegan restaurants, like Andy Nguyen's. It may be the specialty products they use or maybe it's the long tradition of cooking that way, but wow, is it good. Even the fake meats and fake fish, which I would assume would be entirely unconvincing, are really good.

That's funny because I have noticed the same thing - my favourite restaurant here is a Buddhist vegan restaurant. I had the same suspicions when it came to the fake meats, but even my omnivorous (and meat-loving) husband said it was some of the best Asian food he'd ever tasted.

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    • By missdipsy
      Two of my family members are pescetarian, one of whom is my picky daughter who only likes a few types of fish cooked in very specific ways so to all intents and purposes is mostly vegetarian. Many Chinese soup recipes involve meat or fish, or at least meat broth, so I'd love to find a few more recipes that would suit my whole family (I also don't eat much pork as it doesn't always agree with me, and a lot of soups involve pork so this is also for my benefit!). Vegetarian would be best, or pescetarian soups that are not obviously seafood based (I could get away with sneaking a small amount of dried shrimp in, for instance, but not much more than that!).
       
      Any kind of soup will do, although I'd particularly like some simple recipes that could be served alongside a multi-dish meal. But I'm always interested in new recipes so any good soup recipes would be welcome!
       
      Any suggestions?
    • By Druckenbrodt
      So, our flights have been booked for next Sunday, we're servicing our loyal bikes, the panier bags are coming out of the cupboard and we're checking the tent still has all its poles.
      Our plan is 10 days of cycling, through the Pelopponnese and Crete, far from the madding crowds, through mountain meadows and forests full of bee hives, with regular visits to pristine hidden beaches. That's the plan.
      Of course, to make our holiday perfect, some feasting would go down well. I had thought that this would be impossible for my boyfriend, given he's vegetarian (no fish either), since I assumed the options will only be grilled meat, grilled fish, or Greek salad. But having had a look at some of these posts, it seems like there are quite a few really delicious (and popular?) dishes that don't involve meat or fish, but do include delicious things like spinach, fava beans, chick peas etc.
      So, I'd like to compile a list of Great Greek Dishes that vegetarians can eat, the sort of simple everyday stuff that we might be able to get in a small village taverna. To kick start the list I'm nominating:
      Briam - I had this about 10 years ago on the island of Amorgos and it was mindblowingly delicious. Potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes and maybe onions and lots of olive oil? All cooked together extremely slowly. I've tried recreating this but never succeeded. It's something I still have fond memories of!
      Any general advice or additions to the list would be most gratefully appreciated!
    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
       

       
      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
       
      Ingredients:
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Vietnamese Pickled Eggplant
       
      These use tiny white eggplants that are nearly impossible to get here.  I tried to grow them without success (this time).  I did not have these so used unripe cherry tomatoes.
       
      Ingredients
      2 lb eggplant (tiny white SE Asian types) or green cherry tomatoes.
      1/4 cup salt
      1 TBL galangal root
      1 TBL ginger root
      12 green chilies - thai peppers or serranos
      6 cloves garlic
      1/2 cup onion finely chopped
      2 cup Granulated sugar
      2 cup water
      1/4 cup fish sauce
       
      1. Rinse off eggplant and pierce with a knife - or cut in half if larger than 3/4 inch in diameter.
       
      2. Put eggplant into jar and add salt - and water to top of jar.  Cover with plastic lid and cover loosely.  Let ferment for 7 days.
       
      3. Take out eggplant and drain.  Rinse with water.  Put into jars again.
       
      4. Chop ginger, galangal, chiles, onion, and garlic.
       
      5. Boil water and sugar, add spices and onion, and heat for 5 minutes.  Add fish sauce.
       
      6. Pour over eggplants making sure the spices and onion get all around (might have to take out some eggplant and return).
       
      7. Cover with plastic lid, and refrigerate.
       
      8. Ready in several days.  Will last a very long time in the refrigerator.
       
      Notes:  Good alongside other SE Asian dishes, or even alone with rice.  The green tomatoes are not the same texture as the eggplants, but are quite good.  The eggplants are very crispy.
       
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