A friend (thanks, P!) recently brought to my attention A. G. Sulzberger‘s piece in The New York Times, under the absurd headline “Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival.” In it, he has a pity-party of one as he bemoans the difficulty in finding a satisfying vegetarian meal at Kansas City’s steakhouses and BBQ restaurants. (Duh.) The article would be insulting if if weren’t so dopey, though there is a kernel of truth there. Even in a foodie oasis like Madison, eating out can be tricky for vegetarians if you’re in the wrong place. (I’m looking at you, Applebee’s!) But Madison has oodles and oodles of dining options for vegetarians and vegans, not to mention locavores and conscientious omnivores. Rather than marshal a response of my own, I thought I’d share reactions from other folks who were more directly his target.
For example, here’s some of what writer and chef Amber Shea of Kansas City had to say (click here for her full post): “We certainly do have our share of barbecue restaurants and steakhouses…but to lament a lack of veg options at such establishments seems downright silly…. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vegan brunch, a quick snack and soy latte, a meatless ethnic food feast, a stylish and date-worthy vegan dinner, or even veg bar food, you can get it, at dozens of non-vegan restaurants around the city. It’s shoddy reporting, in my eyes, to go to a meat-centric restaurant and then write an article (for the NY Times, no less!) about having to eat a salad. The assortment of restaurants in Kansas City that are veg-friendly is downright dizzying.”
And here’s an excerpt Sarah Baker Hansen’s reply (find her entire post here): “When I traveled the state working for Nebraska tourism it was challenging to eat. Sometimes there weren’t any good options. I ate a lot of grilled cheeses and some of them tasted more like a hamburger than they should have. Once, a lady told me the only meatless option at her restaurant was chicken strips. But I never had to sustain myself on iceberg lettuce alone, and nobody ever accused me of undermining the state’s economy. In Scottsbluff, I ate many wonderful meals at the Emporium Coffeehouse and Cafe, where I had my choice of a few meatless dishes. At guest ranches in the panhandle, I ate homemade meatless meals. I’ve had plenty of meat-free Mexican in central Nebraska. In Omaha and Lincoln, I have even more choices…. I agree with him that there are substantially more options for vegetarians in the big cities … [but his take on Omaha] rings snarky. It makes it seem like no one here takes vegetarianism or veganism seriously. That no one cares about it. That no restaurants offer much of anything for the people who don’t eat beef. And that’s simply not true.”
Lastly, fighting snark with snark, New York magazine put it this way, under the headline “A.G. Sulzberger Writes Note to Dad Asking If He Can Come Home Yet”: “Nope, nothing insufferable about writing a whole article in the newspaper your family owns about how miserable you are at being forced to eat iceberg lettuce.” Ouch.