By Ashley Fox
The problem with most "vegan" restaurants is they simply are not really vegan, they are Fegan (fake vegan). Vegansim is not just a diet, it's also a different way of thinking and living. Many Fegan restaurants are riding a wave, instead of being the ocean.
First off, too many Fegan restaurants offer a menu full of fried and super oily foods. I am sure it is general knowledge that fried foods are unhealthy; well this includes vegan fried foods too! If it's not fried, then they offer you a veggie bowl smothered in oil, and this is unacceptable! Although oils can be vegan, they should be used super sparingly, or not at all. Oils are liquid fats that have been extracted from whole foods like sunflower seeds or olives. When you extract the oil, you leave behind the vast majority of nutrients, and are left with a very concentrated source of unhealthy fats and calories. This high concentration of fats and calories contribute to arterial damage and the progression of heart disease.
The next issue is Fegan restaurants that offer an almost exclusively soy-based menu. You have the option to choose between tofu, seitan, or tempeh. Or in other words, all processed versions of edemame aka soy! Processed foods have almost no nutritional value, are made with artificial ingredients like fillers and perservatives, and are also not easy for the body to break down or absorb. Not to mention almost 95% of soy is GMO thanks to Monsanto!
This brings us to the topic of menu variety. No variety = no nutritional diversity, aka an unbalanced diet. Vegans, and everyone for that matter, must switch it up and eat a variety of vegetables and fruit to consume all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. For example, eating mostly soy with red peppers, onions, and rice everyday is not going to give you a balanced diet. The menu should have different combinations of different vegetables in at least a few dishes, and the main ingredient shouldn't be soy! And why do they always choose to have romaine lettuce, can I get some mixed field greens? Having a balanced diet is essential to eating healthy and being healthy. Most Americans are nutrient deficient, and this is something that must change!
I said it once, and i am going to say it again! Veganism is not just a diet, it's a unique way of thinking and living. I don't identify with every business that calls themself "vegan", and you shouldn't either. We shouldn't be pressed to have a whole bunch of unhealthy "vegan" restaurants. Quality over quantity! Some of these Fegan restaurants are in it for the money. They know a lot of us will travel far, and spend a pretty dime to try food at a vegan restaurant, and they take full advantage of that. But really, they are supposed to be doing their part to uplift and sustain the world by introducing vegan cuisine to people of all ages, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses! It is clear to see that many restaurants are exclusively catering to the "money makers"! Why so expensive? I don't care how organic it is, these veggies don't cost more than meat, but they charge you like you're getting some filet mignon! If you tell them you want avocado instead of soy, they tell you it's $2extra....SAY WHAT? I can't even substitute something healthier? What about the ones that pretend they are affordable, but once you get that plate.... the potions are fit for the belly of a new born baby.....$20 dollars for what?!?! A snack? We are grown out here! This is unethical for vegans, or anyone for that matter. Our community must have the collective goal to provide affordable, healthy, plant-based meals that are served in adult portions at our Vegan restaurants. At minimum they should be able to offer 1 to 3 menu options that are filling, and cost $8 or less. There are so many people who want to eat healthier, but are left with few options and no support!
During my 6 years being vegan, I have been to vegan restaurants in 5 countries and in over 13 US states and the most delicious vegan restaurants are plant based, full of menu variety, and have at least one or 2 affordable meals on the menu. These restaurants literally put love into their food, that's why they are so delicious! I listed some of my favorite restaurants from around the world below. No restaurant is perfect but these vegans are doing better than the rest in their city!
*Forever Vegano (Mexico City, Mexico)
*Rasta Ade Refreshments (Negril, Jamaica)
*Animals (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
*Go Vegan Cafe (Las Vegas, Nevada)
*Vegan Flava Cafe (Durham, North Carolina)
*Sprial Diner & Bakery (Fort Worth, Texas)
*Blueberry Cafe Juice Bar and Vegan Grille
(Newark, New Jersey)
*JaJaJa Plantas Mexicana
(New York, New York)