Costa Rican Tortilla: all vegetarian black beans and rice, queso fresco spread and fried sweet plantains; hot-pressed in a flour tortilla – only at Mirasol’s Cafe.
“Is bacon a vegetable? Are French fries?”
Americans have a love affair with meat. They want a side of bacon to go with their bacon. They will wrap their turkey bacon in bacon. Our love for meat borders on obsession: we have meat-lovers pizza, a Pu Pu Platter has only meat in it, and we love our Italian subs that have five different types of sliced meats. Even those who are vegetarians often eat food that mimics meat in texture and flavor, with meat substitutes like veggie sausage, Tofurkey or even Mock Duck. We are ALL in the pursuit of umami, or savoriness, and meat seems to have it in spades.
Whether a vegetarian or a meat lover, passion can come from both positions and proponents of both can have reactions that border on extreme. A radical vegetarian will lecture you on the suffering of animals as you are eating your burger, and an extremist meat-lover will order extra bacon on his burger and chew it with his mouth open for you to see. If you are the same room as these two combatants, tension will rise as the comments go from light jabs to ideological warfare – eventually war breaks out. Hyperbolic, but it conveys the point.
Now, there was a time when most vegetarian products tasted like cardboard cakes sprinkled with salt. However, times have changed and there are actually some products that have umami and taste delicious. No, really.
Why bother with eating a vegetarian diet – whether in the form of tempah, tofu, or Tofurkey – or simply including more vegetables in your diet? At this point, it’s virtually redundant to say: it’s healthier. Better for one’s cholesterol, blood pressure, longevity.
So, here’s the rub: why can’t we enjoy both? Do we have to be only a meat-lover or a vegetarian/vegan? Do we have go cold turkey? Pun intended? How about having whole meals, or even days, where we eat vegetarian? I know meat-lovers will think it’s “crazy talk,” but there are dishes you can eat, and places that you can eat at, where you won’t even realize you didn’t take a single bite of meat, yet love the meal.
Having said that, this list is my opinion. I am not a vegetarian, but I would consider myself a proponent – I often go a day or more of making an effort to not eat meat and when I do eat meat, I make an effort to eat smaller portions. As I find more places and dishes, it become a less daunting task. If you are a vegetarian, or a vegan you may have better dishes or spots – ones that I am unaware of. By all means, share your top destinations or dishes. In fact, if you are a vegetarian this list will evoke a “Duh!” moment for you. In particular, it’s for those who, like myself, are trying to eat healthier or perhaps moving towards become a vegetarian.
Well, enough of my blathering. Let’s do delicious.