Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last night, I had one of the most fantastic meals I've had in a long, long time.

And the kicker?

It was all vegan.

Yup, last night, my boyfriend and I made it out to Millennium Restaurant, which is perhaps one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco. In fact, by the end of the second course, my meat-loving boyfriend was making multiple comments about how if all vegan food tasted this good, he'd be okay going vegan.

And of course I was happy because at a vegan restaurant I didn't have to worry about animal fats lurking in my food. No need to offer a laundry list of things I can't eat: cheese, butter, cream. No need to worry that we'd get three courses with bacon. Instead, we sat back, ordered the tasting menu, and let the deliciousness unfold.

Millennium's success (can we talk about how crowded this place is?) demonstrates that ultimately, we are all happy to eat good, healthy, sustainable food. If it tastes good, that is. Judging by the Yelp reviews (and my boyfriend) a number of meat eaters have been good and satisfied eating at Millennium.

So why are we all stuck in the meat paradigm? Why do so many of us feel that we need to eat meat with just about every meal?

Is it because that's what we know? What we grew up with? Is it just plain easier to cook with meat?

When we think of a vegetarian dish, are we stymied at pasta or a salad?

And how do we change the paradigm so that instead of focusing on meat, butter, and cheese, we focus on vegetables, lentils, and whole grains?


Green Bean said...

I love Millennium! I mean love love love it! Sure, I'm a vegetarian so who listens to me but my husband is like your boyfriend. Total meat eater. Didn't miss the meat AT ALL. I agree. We need to break out of the traditional "vegetarian" or "vegan" box and think beyond salad, pasta and bean.

Clarissa said...

"So why are we all stuck in the meat paradigm? Why do so many of us feel that we need to eat meat with just about every meal?"

-Because not everybody lives in SF and can afford to eat at Millenium 3 times a day. Or because some people are hurting so much financially right now that all they can afford is stupid McDonald's. Or because in the largest part of this country, it's a struggle to find any kind of produce at the supermarket.

Maelle said...

I am not a vegan, but I am a vegetarian. Yes, it's possible to make wonderfully tasting and satisfying meals without meat, but in my experience they take much longer to prepare. I have three kids, and sometimes I really wish I could make a protein rich meal for them by just frying a bit of meat and serving some veg and grain on the side. It would be even harder if we couldn't have eggs and dairy.

Rosa said...

Yeah, I think at the chef level it doesn't matter, but at the low- to mid-level of skill, it takes a lot more work to make a good vegan meal.

It takes more spices, and more attention, and usually a lot more cutting/chopping/arranging.

ruchi said...

GB, I mean, how could you NOT love Millennium, really? :)

Clarissa, point well taken. Processed food, McDonalds, etc, are all often cheaper and more accessible than good quality produce. But I don't see the "meat paradigm" as something that only affects those who are struggling economically. There are lots of people who can afford produce, who live accessible to produce, who still feel like their meals must have meat as the center piece. So while, yes, money and accessibility is part of it, I'm not convinced it's the whole story.

Maelle, you're right. It does take longer to prepare much of the time. For me, making daal is something I have to commit to the night before so that I prep everything the evening before. Then the next day I throw it all in the slow cooker. It doesn't actually take more time from me, but I do have to think about it before hand.

Rosa, yes. Hmmm, I'm starting to think some posts about Indian food might be coming along ....

Green Bean said...

Daal slow cooker recipe, please! :)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

There's a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver that we've been to a few times. A vege friend chose it for her birthday dinner a couple of years ago, and all the carnivores at the table were well and truly converted. Unfortunately though it's in danger of becoming a victim of its own success - it's so busy now that we often decide to go elsewhere because of the wait times (they don't take reservations). There's clearly a huge market here.