“Oh, look, nineteen kinds of meat sandwiches!”

Okay, so maybe I should have written “burgers” but to me, someone who rarely eats meat, this is what I see when I look at a menu dominated by burgers, like at the new local restaurant in Cerrillos, not to name anyone specifically…
It’s a blindspot, and so many restaurants wear blinkers as far as what to offer those of us who don’t crave red meat. Are vegetarians really not worth the respect of offering them an equal amount of options on the menu? Do you think there are so few of us? To treat us as second class citizens? What do vegetarians eat after all, is that what you’re thinking? It’s odd to me, this blindness. Is it really a case of meat-eaters only think MEAT, carbs and a couple of slices of tomato? Can you really not think past that? Although I admit to knowing a few vegetarians who rarely eat actual vegetables, another odd idea to me, but that’s for another rant.

So, in the spirit of 1) sarcasm and 2) helpful suggestions, here goes. My take on how to create a balanced menu that respects the financial needs of a kitchen and the demographic of meat and non-meat eaters alike. Now, you know, being politically correct isn’t one of my talents, but hey, it’s not that big a deal to think of others, is it? Nah, I didn’t think so. I’ll make it easy though. You can name one of these sandwiches after me if you like.
The average menu offers twenty or so items and only one or two of those don’t contain meat. Why? Oh, well, I’ll pass on that for now, but when the restaurant defensively says that they’ve got a salad for me. Yeah, well, that’s great, I eat salads most days, but come on, is it as substantial or filling as a honking great sandwich? Pizza? Panini? Well, dear restaurant owners, here are a few ideas for you.

Looking at all those meat sandwiches, sorry, I mean, burgers, why do you have so many? Are they all the same? Red meat with a few other ingredients on the side? Oh, they all have different and unique flavors? You mean, like cheese? So perhaps, try this. For each kind of cheese, remember how it fits with different sides? Brie and tomatoes. Swiss and grilled onions. Mozarella and basil. Goat cheese and grilled bell peppers. That’s the first few that came to mind. And you probably have all those ingredients in the kitchen, don’t you? So here’s a challenge, create at least five cheese sandwiches with different fillings.
Or, you know, vegetables? Again, you probably have this stuff already so this won’t cost you anything. Cheese and veggies last a long time if kept cool, so don’t worry about that extra cost, okay? SO, what do you think about offering grilled zuchini and greens? Roast peppers and mushrooms? Kale and grilled onions and garlic? In wraps perhaps, or on an open sandwich? Or on a pizza?

To think that people only want meat and carbs is, well, depressing. To me.  I understand but you can take those blinkers off now. Look in the kitchen, open the fridge, and just look at all the veggies and ingredients you already have. Now, play with them. Break out of the limited idea that vegetarians want pasta or carbs. Most of us want a decent meal with fresh veggies, perhaps some cheese, or even a sandwich with one of the many kinds of veggie burgers. You know, something substantial and fresh.

So my challenge to those local businesses who only offer a couple of items without meat, have another look. Get playful. Get creative. And get our business.


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