Dear Vegans: Not EVERYTHING Needs to Be Spicy

From my youth to well into my 30’s, I got along great with spicy food. But then something very sad happened. Sometime around 40, my body just decided that spicy food was no longer an option. Even the slightest amount of heat in a curry or a burrito and my stomach would stage a full scale revolt. While Beyoncé was singing about carrying hot sauce in her bag, I was carrying Zantac in mine.

It was around that time I noticed that vegan restaurants serve an inordinate amount of spicy dishes. Like even shit that shouldn’t be spicy, take a pesto sauce, will set your mouth on fire for no reason.

So, I started asking servers if menu items (even ones that didn’t seem so) were spicy. Here’s what I’ve learned: If a server says something is spicy, it most definitely is. If a server says something is just a little spicy, it’s just as spicy. If a server says something is not spicy, you have a 50 percent chance it’s still fucking spicy.

Now before you come at me like, “Maybe you’re just sensitive to spice…” I’m gonna stop you right there. Number one, I ate spicy foods for years and I know what’s spicy and what isn’t. Like I said, this is a recent inconvenience thanks to my journey into middle age. Number two, I’ve had friends – who are all fine with spicy foods – taste this shit and they’ve confirmed that when I think something is spicy, it actually is.

But this got me thinking… Why do vegans think all their food needs to be spicy?? Well, I have a theory.

For years, vegan food got a terrible rap. And one of the biggest critiques of vegan cuisine was that it was bland. I believe chefs overcompensated for that by making dishes painfully hot. You think our food is bland? We’ll show you, motherfuckers!

Maybe that was the right course of action for a while – who am I to question the culinary world? – but I am pleading with you to please stop. It is not the ‘90s anymore and people know vegan food is more than tofu and sprouts.

To be clear, I’m not coming out against all spicy food. I want people to have all the hot dishes they want! But I’m certainly not the only person out there with this issue, and honestly there is no reason for a black bean burger to make me use a sick day at work, OK?

So, vegans, especially vegan chefs, if you’re reading this, food can taste good without scorching your insides. Stop it.