Not so long ago, the word “vegan” was considered by many to be a dirty word. Clearly, this is no longer the case as it appears that veganism is growing in popularity, and finally getting the recognition that it deserves.
Not only are there many well-known and firmly established upscale vegan restaurants (think Blossom, Candle 79, Millennium, Vedge, Sublime, Crossroads, V-Note, and G-Zen) which have proved the worth of the almighty vegetable, but vegan fine dining seems to be on the rise just about everywhere.
In one of my favorite posts Vegetables Become “The Star” With Michelin Chefs, I discuss how the disdain held by many professional chefs all over the world towards vegetarians seems to be coming to an end. Haute-vegetarian menus seem to be a new revolution, and can be found in the finest restaurants all over the world.
Hopefully, comments like these will no longer be acceptable…
“Vegetarians and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction the vegans are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn…the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”
-Chef Anthony Bourdain
“My biggest nightmare would be if the kids ever said: ‘Dad, I’m a vegetarian.’ Then I would sit them on the fence and electrocute them.”
-Chef Gordon Ramsay
Just yesterday, Girlie Girl Army posted the good news that the very talented vegan chefs, The Spork Sisters, have recently created a vegan menu for the poolside Cabana Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Okay, it’s just the poolside restaurant, but it’s still pretty swanky!
This clear path towards adding vegan menus in upscale restaurants was started by vegan Steve Wynn when he established vegan menus in many of his fine restaurants at The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Even world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has established a vegan menu at the Prime Steakhouse at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, and has an all-vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the works in New York City called ABC Home Grown.
Pop-up vegan menus in high-profile restaurants are also trending, as evidenced in my post Vegan Food Porn by Adam Goldberg. Last year, from May through August, chef Grant Achatz had 4-star vegan cuisine on his menu at his upscale restaurant Next in Chicago.
On her amazing website Happy. Healthy. Life., Kathy Patalsky posted a great article about Mainstream Fine Dining in New York City. In her post, she confirms just how vegan-friendly Chef Jean-Georges really is, and talks about vegan options in New York City’s finest restaurants such as Gramercy Park Tavern, Per Se, Daniel, and Le Bernardin. If you live in New York City, or if you are planning a visit, I highly recommend that you read Kathy’s post.
In a Chicago Tribune article, dated March 26, 2014, entitled Vegan Menus Hit Mainstream, vegan chefs and restaurant owners from some of the country’s best vegan restaurants talk about the dishes they create to tempt non-vegans. Some of the dishes discussed, including roasted seitan and mashed potatoes, vegan crabcakes, and green apple and beet ravioli, prove that going meat and dairy-free can be easy, fulfilling and delicious.
The Chicago Tribune article recognizes that, while veganism may be considered a hip and progressive trend in modern dining, an abundance of all-vegan restaurants have been cropping up in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago over the past decade, and there are at least five vegan restaurants in each of the other states. This is due to the cultural perception of veganism which has shifted from niche and alternative to more mainstream.
Clearly, more and more people seem to be appreciating the many benefits of plant-based eating. This fact is acknowledged by the growing trend of vegan menus in upscale restaurants, and the opening of new all-vegan restaurants across the country. Since more top chefs are accommodating vegans than ever before, perhaps I’ll be able to get something other than a plate of spaghetti when I dine out with my non-vegan friends in fine restaurants. Hurray!