Promoting veganism. What’s veganism?

12 Oct

The New York Times recently ran this article about how omni restaurants in Los Angeles are now catering to vegans. I was going to say yes and no, but really, it’s still more no, don’t you think? I can find something at most places but often — very often — I still feel I’m not wanted. That I’m a nuisance and they wish I’d go away. (As opposed to the people who get to know me before thinking that.) And being made to feel a nuisance seems pretty much the opposite of being catered to.

I was so excited when I first saw this article, but I think it’s overstated. I will admit that while I’d heard that a former Dan Tana’s fixture had opened a competing joint named Craig’s down the block, I was unaware they were offering a whole vegan section on their menu. Boo-ya! (or whatever the correct sound effect for excitement is.) But the rest of the article goes a little too far.

One of the high-end restaurants they mention as catering to vegans is Hatfield’s. I was surprised to read that Hatfield’s, one of the hot restaurants in the city, was doing this. And it turns out I had reason to be skeptical. I called Hatfield’s and spoke to a very nice woman there. She told me that the vegetarian prix fixe menu was not suitable for vegans but that there were some vegan options available. Great, I said, can you tell me about them? Well, she said, You can get the arugula and roasted fig salad with jamon (ham) and manchego (cheese) without the jamon and manchego. Or, she said, You can get the watermelon, avocado and burrata salad without the burrata. Or, you can get the wild mushroom and buckwheat crepe without the crepe. And that’s about it.

Really? It’s not her fault, or the fault of Hatfield’s, but why the hell is The New York Times choosing this as one of the high-end restaurants that cater to vegans when they don’t cater to vegans at all? When the only three choices for us are three things sans the main components of the things? Is The New York Times really writing an article about vegan dining when they don’t really understand the difference between vegans and vegetarians? Yup, it seems like they are.

Another place they mention is n/naka. This is a traditional kaiseki restaurant. They have a vegetarian prix fixe menu, which costs a steep $110 per person, but some of the courses looked like they contained dairy, so I called. Again, they were very nice, and they told me that when making your reservation you can request that the vegetarian prix fixe be made vegan and they will happily do it. I thought that was great, but I still found it odd that the article did not mention this, but rather left the reader with the impression that there was a vegan prix fixe available as part of their regular offerings.

I guess I kid myself that in 2012 people understand what veganism is, even people writing articles about it for prominent publications. It’s apparently still to much to ask. But I still think any seemingly positive coverage, even if ignorant and inaccurate, is better than none. I just wish that these publications would write these vegan articles with an eye toward vegans, rather than merely trying to let omnifolk know about the supposedly changing dining world.

2 Responses to “Promoting veganism. What’s veganism?”

  1. Midge October 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    That is so odd. You would think that they would do better research or feature omni restaurants that truly have a vegan menu.

    This week The Vegetarian Resource Group posted an article about The Yard House offering Gardein in their menu. You can read it here in case you missed it: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2012/10/10/yard-house-restaurants-offer-gardein™-menu-options/. I think Quarry Girl may have commented on this before, but I’m quite perplexed at what The Yard House is trying to do here. I appreciate the effort but seriously this does nothing for vegans.

    • insufferablevegan October 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      I wrote about Yard House back in May after they revamped their menu. Prior to the revamp they had a Gardein section on their menu, but it was unfriendly to vegans. However, they made some changes. Now they say that none of the batter used on Gardein items contains egg. And there are two entrees that are “vegan as plated”: the Gardein Chicken Rice Bowl, which I haven’t tried, and the Gardein Orange Peel Chicken, which is very good. They have also started labeling items as “vegetarian” but are unwilling to label things as vegan. I suspect they fear it will scare people away.

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