Jun 3, 2009

Vegetarianism and the humanitarians!

"Penne Margarita please" I said to the waitress at Bertucci's at today lunch without taking a look at the menu. P nodded his head (sarcastically) "What I know by heart the limited vegetarian stuff they have, so what's the point in going through the menu for 10 minutes for the hundredth time"

This conversation takes place at most of the restaurants we consistently go out for afternoon-lunch sessions.

Vegetarianism wasn’t a choice growing up in conservative family in India, its embedded when we are young samplings!

But having cosmopolitan parents help. I don’t regret having strayed but lacto-ovo vegetarianism is the lifestyle I choose.

So we are back to the original point. The chain restaurants in US contain 2-5 veggie entree' selections.

Bertucci's, Olive Garden, Uno's Chicago grill, Macaroni Grill usually have pasta primavera, eggplant parmesan, veggie pizza and of course the salads/breadsticks.
Mexican restaurant chains like On the Border, Border cafe, Chipotle, Baja Fresh pretty much have one buritto and taco!
You obviously know the two choices you get in pizza chains pizza hut, domino's, papa John's, papa Gina’s.
You are lucky if you catch a Burger King/Subway on a road trip, where soya-patty/grilled veggie subs are severed.

Here's one funny incident on traditional-Niagara-falls road trip during first month of arriving in US of A. The NY pike is one the worst places to find food (read veggie). We are driving 4hour non-stop, had passed BK's without giving a second thought and now all through the stretch were McD's!

Finally accepting defeat from growling stomachs we strolled in to grab a bite at 11pm. Guess what, there are no veggie-burgers or salads served (thankfully their new menu has Southwestern salad without meat). While our friend mr.B bought couple of yogurts. KC decided survive on coffee alone and me....well, I asked the 17-year old for choices.
He instantly gave me a cheeseburger without the 'patty' (bless him!).
Even though KC said what's the use of burger with single tomato slice and cheddar cheese...hey if it helped me survive the night its fine with me!

Another incident during the 9-hour flight! I had rescheduled my Blore-Boston flight and had conveniently forgotten to update the meals option.
So instead of custom 'Asian vegetarian meal' I was to choose between turkey or chicken. I strode up to front asking favor from the plane chef. Guess, what I was given a pasta meal with no meat, dessert and extra bread sticks severed usually for first-class cabin!

Other option not usually explored in local diners are customizing. I've this trick at mom-pop Italian place near work.
They made sure they served me the sauce and pasta dishes without meat and pizza without cheese (but whole lot of toppings!) for KC!

Bottom line: Just ask without hesitation. People are usually humane to make few alterations!


  1. Exactly! We customize every single item whenever we visit any non-india nrestaurant... It is impossible to just go by the menu card for a vegetarian meal... Almost every restaurant help you by substituting meat with veggies..In the US, it certainly works:)

  2. Hey I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian too. And true in US we get more options for non-veg items compared to veg. Thankfully I have a Chinese near home which offers equal amounts of both, I'm saved.