When I was in college, I dabbled in vegetarianism. It wasn’t even cool back then, it was a way for me to enjoy inexpensive meals. Eventually, I had a craving for a hamburger, and it went all downhill from there. Vegetarianism, however, continues to rise. Not because it is a chic and trendy lifestyle, but because diners are aiming for a healthier, more proactive life that includes becoming more socially aware when it comes to dining. Excellent vegetarian restaurants continue to pop up all over the world because there is a growing demand. And now, with the culinary scene hotter than ever, vegetarian restaurants are often the hottest ticket in town.
I’m still not a vegetarian. In fact, I love meat and all kinds of it. Rib-eye steak, beef tartare, turkey pastelon, chicken Parmesan, bulgogi, sweet & sour pork, the list goes on. But, I have to say, I love my vegetarian restaurants. Why? Because I enjoy eating tofu, quinoa, and, heck, even veggie burgers. I often like the vegetables more than the meat entrée it accompanies. It also helps that vegetarian restaurants skew on the healthier side, embracing sustainability where I feel like I am making a tiny difference in the world with the meal I eat. And, in this world where meat eaters obviously dominate, I’m not the only one who’s celebrating meat-free dining. Vegetarianism helps the environment by reducing water consumption (meat production is water intensive), saves fossil fuels, and protects open space (millions of acres of land are used for livestock grazing and farming animal feed).