Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 45: Dining Out

I've only dined out twice since I've made this switch. The Thai restaurant had a whole vegetarian section filled with tofu and vegetables and when I asked if there were hidden animal products like broth, the waitress told me that it was all totally vegan. The Friendly's menu, on the other hand, was not terribly vegetarian-friendly, let alone vegan-safe. Nevertheless, they accommodated my request to un-cheese my veggie fajita quesadilla and it was pretty tasty. I rarely eat out, so it hadn't really occurred to me that this would be quite the ordeal.

I did a little bit of online searching and found the Vegan Eating Out Guide, which researches popular sit-down restaurants and fast food chains and details what, exactly, on their menus is vegan. Some restaurants, like Red Robin, Hooter's, Denny's and TGI Fridays, offer nothing. Nope, not even a fruit cup, a bowl of plain oatmeal or a green salad. I was stunned, really. I had figured that vegan dining out would be an exercise largely reduced to a plate of anemic-looking iceberg lettuce passing itself off as a "green salad" or picking and choosing from side dishes, but for some restaurants to have nothing free of animal products, like not even a baked potato, for God's sake, well, that's an eye-opener.

Panera and Au Bon Pain, on the other hand, had some soups and sandwiches which were either already vegan as-is or could be made so simply by omitting the cheese.

I was surprised and disappointed to discover that Ruby Tuesday's Veggie Burger was no longer listed. A few more searches on Google later, and I found that they had switched suppliers and their veggie burger mix had mayonnaise in it. So now, the only stand-alone vegan offering on their menu is their salad bar. I did not become a vegan so that I could be relegated to eating salads wherever I went. Is it really that difficult for a restaurant to add a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich to the menu? I'm not asking for fake meats or seitan, here.

I was perusing the Vegan Eating Guide's of fast food restaurants which serves 100% vegan foods and saw that there was one listed in New York. I clicked on it, wondering what in the world a fast food vegan restaurant could possibly be like and I nearly fell over.

The link took me to a place called Strong Hearts Cafe, the largest vegan cafe in New York state outside of New York city, and it's right here in Syracuse.

How the Hell did I not know this?!

Now I am so excited I can barely stand it. They have a full breakfast, lunch and PIZZA menu! I told the girls that we would go there soon for pizza. Hell, let's see if I can wait as long as 11 am.

They have milkshakes, soups, salads, sandwiches and.... did I mention the pizza?

You can expect my review as soon as I've gone there. Check out their menus here.


Andrea said...

I lived in Syracuse for 7 years but was vegetarian at the time, not vegan. The only restaurant I can remember is King David's falafel on Marshall St.

B said...

Oh yeah, King David's is awesome. I haven't been there in a while.

Also, in the Westcott area, Alto Cinco often has vegetarian dishes, which could possibly be veganized by request, though I haven't tried that yet.

Next door is Munjed's which I have been meaning to try out. They must have a baba ganoush/hummus platter, right?

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