I was faced with a frustrating situation while eating out with friends Saturday night. The restaurant we had chosen was Moroccan and very well reviewed. When I explained to the waitress my dietary restrictions, she offered this option for a dinner entree: a pita with chickpea and piquillo-almond spreads. This sounded delicious and I was eagerly anticipating a light, satisfying portion when I was presented with two small dollops of spread and a sliced cucumber for dinner. The pita bread was missing (it was evidently laden with butter and eggs) and the restaurant charged me an additional $2 for the side of cucumber. This despite the fact that I was not receiving the pita. Basically, I had to pay $13 for the privilege of eating a sliced cucumber and two tablespoons of (very tasty) spread. I left the restaurant hungry and with heckles raised.
If a Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco can’t even come up with a decent vegan option for its diners, what are people in less progressive cities supposed to do? Is San Francisco even progressive? Why is it that the consumption of animal products is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of our culture that this un-named restaurant couldn’t even offer a single decent vegan entree? How are we ever going to reverse the obesity epidemic when seemingly every meal prepared in a restaurant is laden with saturated animal fat? With restaurants marketing toward every other trend that pops up (low fat! gluten free!), why can’t they develop more inclusive menus with more vegan entrees? One vegan entree?
The devil’s advocates out there may suggest frequenting restaurants that are known to cater toward vegans: Cafe Gratitude, the Millennium Cafe, Gracias Madre, etc. That’s not always possible and like everyone else, we enjoy trying new restaurants and making spontaneous plans with friends, too. I just wish the restaurants would try a little harder, that’s all. A sliced cucumber? Really? That’s all you got?