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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

It makes total sense that, as people start eating less meat (not really turning vegetarian nor vegan, but eating a lot more meatless dishes), restaurants would adapt and that would bring a boon to all of us veggie-eaters as well. Good news for the environment, people's health, and for those of us animal lovers, less animal suffering all around. This article refers to Columbus, Ohio, not trendy NYC or SF. Cool!

Meat eaters lead rise in vegetarian options



  • Photo by Meghan Ralston



By Justin McIntosh
From the November 8, 2012 edition

White Castle and Wendy’s, the company behind the infamous “Where’s the Beef?” commercials, both call Columbus home, adding further credence to the nickname Cowtown.

But smoldering beneath the city’s farm-based roots is, perhaps, a new slogan: Hold the meat.

With meat consumption in the United States forecasted to be down 12 percent this year from 2007, you can’t simply point to vegetarians and vegans. Meatless dining has branched out to meat eaters.

“If it’s a really nice restaurant, I find the vegetarian meals are a little more creative,” said Christine Rinehart, 33, of Bexley, who regularly eats meatless meals when dining out. “If it’s an average, middle of the road restaurant, sometimes I feel safer choosing a vegetarian option — and I’m not talking about a bad restaurant or a dirty restaurant.”

Diners like Rinehart have led to a slight boon in meatless options at typically meat-heavy restaurants, noted Jennie Scheinbach, owner and founder of Pattycake Bakery, an all-vegan bakery. And they’ve kept her business afloat.

“If we were just catering to vegans we would have closed long ago,” she said, adding that most of her customers are omnivores looking for tasty, slightly healthier treats.

Jay Cheplowitz, owner of the vegan bar Hal & Al’s on the South Side, said he’s taken a similar approach and noticed some of the same clientele patronizing his business, namely meat eaters.

“I don’t want people to come here just because it’s vegan; I want them to come because the food is great and the beer is even better,” he said. “With the exception of a few products, it’s really hard to tell [we’re vegan]. But overall, I’d say meatless eating is definitely more on people’s minds.”

Shannon Barnette, a long-time meatless eater from Columbus, said while there might be fewer vegetarian- or vegan-only restaurants in Columbus than a couple years ago, the local scene has steadily improved.

“It definitely ebbs and flows,” she said. “I’ve been vegetarian for 10 years and there are more accommodating restaurants than there used to be.”

While Columbus might not be leading the way nationally for meatless dining, the city’s offerings are still better than most, said renowned vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

“It’s not Portland, but it’s not Omaha,” Moskowitz said about the city’s vegan food scene. “Having a vegan bakery [Pattycake] goes a long way. You can eat out at so many restaurants that are vegan friendly, but it’s harder to find vegan baked goods.”



 

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I think this is excellent news as well. I stayed vegan for 6 months this year, felt great but was starting to feel a little deprived. Now back to vegetarian, though still make most of my meals vegan. The one thing I was missing was the lack of vegan options in my little town; couldn't go out for a bite. We have four places to eat in town, though a deli is opening and there are a couple of bar food options, but nothing that could be considered healthy.

Then I found out one place where I could get a lentil burger panini, oh yeah. They were putting cheese and mayo on it, but at least healthier than anywhere else. A ton of fresh veggies. The owner there told me that she has seen a turn to healthier eating even in this small town. 

Slowly but surely. =)

That is for sure good news, if we start seeing this shift in small towns as well. You'd be surprised at how difficult it can be to get vegan options even in NYC restaurants. Take Indian food for example: perfect veggie fare, but it's cooked in ghee for the most part. In the upper-scale restaurants, they'll cook anything vegan for you, but who can afford to eat at those places? 

I have not been able to go vegan for more than a week or so at a time. Then cheese grabs me by the throat and forces itself down my throat. I have given up milk, though, and substituted it by almond milk which I actually quite like!

What is the cost difference between Vegan/Vegetarian and meat dishes?

For the most part, the vegetarian/vegan options are always cheaper. Even in regular restaurants (as opposed to fancy restaurants).

That explains part of the reason for the increase in people eating out in places that sell Vegan/Vegetarian dishes! Cost, when you want to dine out instead of dining at home but you are watching your pennies then a place selling vegetarian dishes will allow you to save a little when compared to places that don't sell Vegetarian dishes. 

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