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Jan 12, 2012 06:35 AM

Vegetarian Food in the Midwest

When I first moved to St. Louis from Austin TX, it was a culturally shocking moment. I was able to not only get vegetarian cuisine in Austin, much of it is well executed, tasty and well thought out. I couldn't even find a decent vegetarian dish in St. Louis. Things have changed a lot since then, but the midwest is still lagging in the vegetarian cuisine department. Mind you, I am an omnivore so my day isn't ruined by not having the vegetarian meal, I can always go get some barbecue. :) But I understand the frustration.

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  1. Chicago also has more vegetarian options, but it isn't typical of much of the Mid-West/Plains. Cities with high concentrations of non-white/non-European ancestry people (a.k.a. "ethnic" folks)(yes, yes, thew) tend to have vegetarian options furnished by their cuisines too.

    I posted this on the Great Plains board... :-)

    1. As someone who lives there, I have an issue with the author's assertion that there are only two vegetarian restaurants in Kansas City. Now, I can *maybe* agree that there are only a couple of restaurants that are EXCLUSIVELY vegetarian (I can name two off the top of my head, and I suppose it is possible that they are the only two). But there are many that are vegetarian friendly, up to and including having entirely different cooking equipment for vegan/vegetarian dishes.

      4 Replies
      1. re: 2roadsdiverge

        Maybe it's different elsewhere, but I am in the Midwest and there TONS of vegetarians here and they have plenty to eat. I'm pretty tired of the notion that the entire midwest is addicted to meat and impossible for vegetarians to exist. I'm in a department of 21 people and almost ALL of them are veggie and one is a vegan and we are almost all in the midwest.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          Where are you? Cleveland? If so I don't doubt there are lots of vegetarian options there. The article, however, was slanted to places in the Great Plains, even though the author (incorrectly) used the general term the "Midwest".

          1. re: huiray

            Yes, Cleveland. And we are part of the Midwest. And so are Cincinnati and Columbus and there are plenty of Veg options at restaurants there too. You can't make sweeping generalizations like this about a whole region of the country.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              I agree. I don't know of any strictly vegetarian resturtants in NE Ohio but many restaurants have vegetarian dishes or dishes that can easily be prepered in a vegetarian manner. Chrissie Hynde's place in Akron was the lone vegan standout but sadly it closed.

      2. I like in a college town in eastern Iowa and we have 3 vegetarian restaurant in town, 2 that are completely vegan. Things are getting better.... It mentioned Sparti's in Coralville, but that doesn't look at the whole picture. I will admit there is a fine dining place in town that sent out a snarky e-mail about tofu one April Fool's day.. I just got there less often.

        1. good to see it's still quite fashionable to diss the midwest!

          quite the steaming pile of bs, indeed.

          4 Replies
            1. re: soupkitten


              I went back to omni a year ago, but did just fine as a veg in the midwest for 20 years.

              1. If Sulzberger has written about the lack of vegetarian options in small towns, I would completely understand. Most of what he writes would apply to any small town in the US, and very little applies to major metropolitan areas anywhere in the US. Of course you're going to have a hard time finding an exclusively vegetarian restaurant in a town with only a few restaurants to begin with, or finding many meat-free options at restaurants that specialize in cooking animal products. I have a hard time believing he just couldn't find anything in Kansas City, especially since a simple google search turned up four exclusively vegetarian/vegan restaurants at the top of the search results and an urbanspoon list of 50+ restaurants highly recommended by vegetarians.