Move over Meat - Restaurants Trending Towards Veggies

IsAmerica’s relationship with meat changing for the better? The “meat and potatoes” mentality of protein-centric plates is beginning to shift towards a trend in showcasing vegetables, according to Jane Black of the Wall Street Journal:vegetarian_chef.jpg

Chefs around the country, and the globe, are pushing meat to the side of the plate—and sometimes off altogether. Trade, in Boston, serves polenta topped with fall squash, peppers, scallions and a scattering of pancetta, while at Zahav, in Philadelphia, roasted eggplant comes drizzled with lamb’s tongue vinaigrette. At New York’s Dovetail, a “vegetable-focused” menu features cured carrots with duck breast, cashews and black garlic. In September, Alain Ducasse, the godfather of French cuisine, announced that his flagship restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris would remove most meat from the menu in favor of organic vegetables and seafood.”

Sound delicious? Some chefs might argue that the sheer variety in the vegetable world allows for a multitude of flavors that the comparable few choices of typical meats simply can’t offer, but Black explains that the trend is not only due to taste. Growing awareness and action around our obesity epidemic, concerns over the environmental impacts of meat, and rising meat prices due to droughts, the porcine virus and other economic factors are all drivers of the restaurant eschewance of meat.  

Although purely vegetarian restaurants are a growing trend, Black’s point is that chefs are simply cutting back on the meat protein and in doing so, playing an important role in educating the public about the power of the veggie. Quoting Chef Jody Adams of the restaurant Rialto in Boston, Black writes:

Eating out, especially at an expensive restaurant, is a treat, and chefs don’t want to be seen to be lecturing. . . . .“We’re not passing judgment,” she said. Her solution has been to add more, new dishes where vegetables have a starring role. “People appreciate having vegetables,” said Ms. Adams. “They need to be celebrated. Meat doesn’t have to be the main event.”


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