Monday, December 24, 2012

Can Vegetarians Be Foodies?

Foodies and vegetarianism.

This was an interesting discussion that was had at dinner this evening with my two favorite dining companions. Before I delve into this discussion, I need to define the terms and parameters for myself.

A foodie, according to Webster's is a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.
By this definition, I am not a foodie. There are things that I will not eat since I am a vegetarian. Even before the switch, there are many tings that I would not eat.  I am a very texture driven person and quite a few foods had the wrong texture for me to even try let alone swallow.  This fact is probably one of the main reasons giving up meat was very easy for me to do. 

 What I do enjoy is the social aspect of getting together with friends and/or relations at non-chain restaurants and enjoying their company and getting a meal that meets my dietary requirements.  The discussion came up at this point as to whether restaurant was artist driven or business driven.  The trendiest of the trendiest restaurants catering to the latest fads , the chef will become apoplectic if you ask for even one small change in a menu item to meet your dietary likes, dislikes, and/or allergies.  Servers will not let it progress this far since they will have no problem informing you that the chef makes no changes and that you need to find another item. I had one server who did not do this until all my friends were being served and then I was informed at that point the the chef could not comply with my request for how I wanted my steak (pre-vegetarian days clearly) and I needed to choose another item.  Much to my later dining companions chagrin, I complied and did not raise a righteous fuss. That is a topic for another post.

One of my dining companions mounted a defense of the creative artistic side of the business by stating that while I was not wrong for having preferences, the chef was in his rights as an artiste to deny any requests s/he deemed unreasonable. My point is that I rarely choose the restaurants since I can find most things on a menu to suit my needs anyway, but I expect a reasonable accommodation since I am hanging out with my friends, usually all omnivores, and since I am paying my hard earned cash for it.  It was pointed out to me, rightly so, that most restaurants for those deep in the foodie cult are not meant to be "hung out" in. He compared the chef to himself working as an architect and unreasonable client demands if the client came to him for his expertise and particular design style and then started eliminating design elements.

I do need to point out that all restaurants, except one, have made no bones about at least asking the chef what vegetarian options s/he can come up with if none are on the menu. The one place that did did accommodate me, but only after the server insisted that the chef would be angry at her and me for even asking. One of my dining companions pointed out the restaurant was probably a hobby restaurant and not much concerned with customer satisfaction.

I have seen foodies, they eat anything and everything, as part of the experience. I have seen their TV shows, read their articles and blogs. They never focus on the restaurant atmosphere unless it is edible and/or an integral part of the meal. Foodies tend to have no dietary restrictions nor allergies of any kind.

So I ask my readers to comment on if a vegetarian can be a foodie. My research would tend to lead to a negative answer, but I would love to hear other responses.


  1. Food fads tend to favor omnivores. That being the case, a vegetarian is unlikely to be a foodie.

  2. A vegetarian can be a foodie with a resounding YES! Foodie merely means a person whose hobby is food. That's all. It matters not what your taste prefs are or what your allergies are, only that you do more than just eat.

    As for the chef/restaurant who was hesitant to see to your needs, I'd not return. Regarding food as art? Well yes a vegetarian version may not work if the plate is so set up for visual delight.

    I can't tell you how many times I dine out here in town and never eat meat. I'm not vegetarian (yet) but I don't eat much meat. It's easy as I'm sure you know......