Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Word on the Street: Vegan

With more consumers interested in vegan options for a host of reasons (health, animal ethics, and environmental, to name a few), vegan food, as it should, is taking its rightful place in society - closer to the mainstream. Here are some places it's showing up:

At non-vegetarian restaurants, like New York City's Blockheads (various locations). Co-existing alongside meat and dairy dishes on the menu, you'll find tofu, tofu sour cream, and vegan soy cheese.

Two grilled tofu tacos (hold the Monterey Jack cheese) with fresh grilled corn salsa, served with rice and beans, and of course, I requested tofu sour cream. A feast for $8.95, at lunchtime it came with chips and salsa and a drink (my pick: fresh brewed iced tea).

Great vegan good is not just in New York City or Los Angeles (find veg eats near you with help from Happy Cow). In New Jersey, the owners the Rutherford Pancake House have crafted a loyal following, knowing veg enthusiasts will 'follow the tofu' so to speak. The vegan menu has expanded to offer comfort foods like sliders and pizza. But at a diner or pancake house, breakfast food just calls my name.

The vegan Roman tofu scramble: garlic, scallions, tomatoes, peppers, Italian sausage, and mozzarella, $9.95, served with home fries and...

toast with strawberry jam and soy butter. Coffee $1.79, with soy milk (rice milk is also available), and orange juice, $1.99 for a small.

In every media outlet from non-vegan blogs (check out food writer David Lebovitz raving about New York City vegan bakery Babycakes) to The New York Times, which had a headline that said it all: "Tasty Vegan Food? Cupcakes Show It Can Be Done."

My favorite vegan bakery: Sweet Avenue Bake Shop in Rutherford. Behold the sight of their seasonal pumpkin spice cupcakes, $3.50 each.

At street festivals and fairs. Remember the vegan coconut macaroons at the Bastille Day celebration in New York City? Well, my heart went aflutter when, surrounded by people eating turkey legs at the New York Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo Park (more about my visit and eats there later), I saw this sign at a Mediterranean food booth. Super Vegan is not only a fitting name for a wrap, but also a vegan cartoon character! Now if only I could sketch...

In the movies.

Okay, this technically counts as a vegetarian reference, but still!

In the film Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert's (via Julia Roberts) first boyfriend after the end of her marriage is a vegetarian. There's a scene at a dinner party where someone asks him why he became a vegetarian and he mentions seeing cows being slaughtered. At night's end, the same man asks for the slaughterhouse video and that he's interested in learning more about factory farming. In a film largely about personal and spiritual growth and enlightenment, being enlightened about what one puts in their body, and the reality behind, seems only logical. I was thrilled for the reference, and cheered silently in the theater.

And I'm cheering here, out loud for the animals, that slowly but surely, great vegan food is becoming more available and accepted.


Candles by Nature said...

Those pumpkin spice cupcakes look delicious! It's been way too long since I've had a cupcake!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I had one and it was really good. My favorite flavor (which sadly isn't available weekends when I can go) is their vegan version of Hostess cupcakes.

You should have a cupcake!

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

I love the "Super Vegan" name on the menu. Perhaps there should be a new superhero, the Super Vegan, who saves animals and tears down factory farms? We need a cartoonist to get on this!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

That was what I imagined! Super Vegan shall be a hero for kids, adults and farm animals everywhere. If I were a kid, I'd carry a Super Vegan lunchbox and sleep on a Super Vegan sheet set like I did with the Smurfs! I guess I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

Are you? Or have you just created an additional revenue stream? And the ASPCA, etc. could use such lovely products in their fundraising campaigns. Oh! I love the idea. Of course, Super Vegan would need to be a girl. :)

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I really have thought about it before. This reminds me of a Golden Girls episode where Rose needed Blanche to sketch characters from her St. Olaf childhood stories. I need a "Blanche!"

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine: Thanks for the kind words about Blockheads. Although not strictly vegetarian we have many options for those who are. Great grilled tofu, fresh vegetable medley, tangy tomatillo sauce, fresh salsas, guacamole, tofu "sour cream", creamy black beans, and strictly vegan soy cheese. When you go to Mother Burger please try our veg burger. We make it from scratch and I think its among the best around.
Ken Sofer

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks so much for the comment, Ken. I really appreciate the vegan offerings. It's so great to have tofu as a protein choice and options like the tofu sour cream and vegan soy cheese.

I just ate at Mother Burger and plan to post photos of your delicious veggie burger. The two non-vegetarians I dined with had it as well and just loved it. I will gladly patronize both establishments again.