The vegan lifestyle feels like it has been around forever, but it's still a relatively new concept in the world of restaurants. What was once considered a practice for those in fringe groups of animal lovers and “tree-huggers”, the vegan diet has now blossomed into a common American lifestyle with great health benefits, and the restaurant industry has evolved along with it.
Now more than ever, the vegan restaurant industry is booming.
Restaurants like New York's Avant Garden, which serves meatless, vegan cuisine with a large assortment of vegetable-lead dishes, have their own unique challenges and explorations of flavor that other restaurants tend to miss out on with typical options. Dishes such as avocado chunks dressed in ramp pesto topped with spears of white asparagus and strawberries create complex flavors that meat-lead dishes lack. To create these delicious vegan meals, chef Alex Aparicio is challenged creatively when old dinner staples like steak and chicken are thrown out the window.
The reason there is so much variety of flavor with these vegetable dishes is because there are so many options for ingredients.
No matter how you prepare it, chicken still tastes like chicken (hell, so do many other meats for that matter). Chefs like Alex Aparico have a whole host of vegetables to work with that have been cured, braised, smoked or roasted until they reveal hidden flavors that diners may have never come across. It's actually a new culinary experience.
Many of chefs have picked up the diet and philosophy in their own personal lives and incorporate a real passion for the food. Now that we are well into the 21st century, the stigma from earlier decades has all but left the vegetarian lifestyle. Somewhere down the line, it actually became cool on a much broader level. This change in cultural attitude has opened doors for passionate and creative chefs like these to open a whole new door of culinary experiences that might actually be good for people.
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Writer Bio: Jared Rigsby is a writer and graphic designer with a BA in Writing/Literature from Middle Tennessee State University. A longtime freelancer, he is published monthly through Dish Magazine (dishmag.com) and develops logos and websites through Neochromatic.com.