Look at Those Crazy Vegans!

I’m so not crazy about mainstream reporting on vegan and vegetarian issues. Somehow, there’s always an element of “look at those crazy vegans!” Still, a recent AP article managed to be fairly straightforward. Until you take into account the headline: “Vegan Eateries Not Just for Hippies.” Um, thanks.

Nevertheless, the piece hands readers the news that many cities now boast an upscale vegan restaurant whose food goes beyond brown rice and hummus. Even though Dennis Bayomi, the president of VegDining.com, an online vegetarian dining site, says the number of upscale vegan dinner houses is hard to track (!), he estimates that there are upward of 12 in the country. The article mentions Philadelphia’s Horizons, New York’s Candle 79, and Fort Lauderdale’s Sublime, whose owner donates the profits to support animal welfare.

Sublime owner Nanci Alexander has never turned a profit since opening in 2003 and doesn’t receive a paycheck. The animal rights activist has no experience in the restaurant business, and says she only opened Sublime to help carnivores stop eating meat. All proceeds, if there are any, would go to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

‘They can’t stop if they don’t have someplace to go,’ she said. ‘I thought, “How else can I help the animals?” I never wanted to be in the restaurant business.’

Whoa! What a crazy vegan!

Not mentioned in the article is San Francisco’s oasis of raw vegan dining, Cafe Gratitude. Recently reviewed by the New York Times, Cafe Gratitude’s unusual naming strategy (menu items are named after emotions) was mercilessly mocked by the reviewer—”look at those crazy vegans” strikes again. But in the end, Cafe Gratitude’s sheer deliciousness wins over the reviewer, proving once more that whether you’re a skeptical meat-eater or a hard-core vegan, yummy eats are the most important thing.