Meatless Monday-And What to my Wondering Eyes Should Appear…

…A cover story in a local entertainment newspaper on the top vegetarian restaurants in town.

As I read through the selections, I wondered if the person(s) writing the article were vegetarian. I would suggest not. They picked the top 5 restaurants that have vegetarian options, then spent most of their word allotment discussing the famous meat items they serve. Each restaurant featured had mention of a vegetarian option that is worth trying whether you are vegetarian or not. There was another article listing the top 5 restaurants dedicated to vegetarian food. This list was by no means exhaustive and left out a number of restaurants deserving to be included. This led me to muse for this week’s Meatless Monday.

Although vegetarian options are offered in restaurants are they truly vegetarian?

Vegetarians/vegans will know what I’m talking about. Here are some things to consider when dining out with a vegetarian or as a vegetarian:

  • Is that vegetable soup you’re eating vegetarian/vegan? Confirm that there is no chicken, beef or fish stock used as the base. If I had a pumpkin for every time a server were shocked by this question I would have an entire pumpkin patch.
  • Beware the gelatin! This primarily pork derived product can be hidden in any gooey, mousey dessert.
  • Is there rennet in that cheese? Vegans avoid this completely but lacto-ovo vegetarians should be aware that many cheeses are processed with rennet, an enzymatic substance obtained from the stomach of animals. (There is such a thing as vegetarian rennet but unlikely that most restaurants will use cheese containing this.)
  • Does the kitchen staff use separate utensils and cooking surfaces for meat dishes and vegetarian dishes? A pancake cooked on the same griddle and in the same fat as bacon renders the pancake non-vegetarian. And stirring a vegetable stew with a spoon tainted by meat product means the stew is no longer vegetarian.

While more restaurants are becoming conscious of special dietary needs and making attempts at catering to those who have them, there is nothing like going to a vegetarian restaurant that understands your vegetarian requirements.

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