OK, so I know that for many vegans and vegetarians that sad photo above is triggering. Here’s the thing: as people who abstain from animal products, we’ve been subjected to all sorts of bullshit masquerading as “meals.”
There’s of course the dreaded “grilled vegetable plate” that can always fuck right off – but nothing is more offensive and more despicable than a thing called a “salad” that consists of wilted iceberg lettuce, some mealy tomatoes, and maybe a sliver of red onion or two. If you’re lucky you’ll get some nasty ass Italian dressing with this. If you’re not, you’ll get no dressing and a server will bring you those oil and vinegar bottles.
Now, I want to say that I have had some truly epic salads in my life and I love having a salad for lunch or dinner. Calling that ghastly trash above “salad” is a travesty. An actual salad is full and robust, it contains colorful vegetables and a protein source, maybe even a grain or two. It should look, dare I say it, beautiful! Eating a salad should be a gratifying experience – you should finish feeling happy and satisfied, not demoralized.
I’m certain nobody reading this would ever make such a miserable “salad” like the one above at home. So, this is more a challenge to non-vegan restaurants (vegan restaurants know their way around a salad, trust). Everyone else: Stop serving us this shit. Period. Learn how to make a proper salad.
I know this might come as a shock to many non-vegans, but there are other lettuces out there besides iceberg. What are they, you ask? Well, there’s spinach and arugula and endive and romaine and mesclun – just to name a few. You can also zhuzh up a salad by throwing in other vegetables to add a splash of color, think beets or carrots or fresh tomatoes – emphasis on fresh there – and the motherlode: avocado. Also, don’t forget the plant-based protein. Beans like chickpeas and black beans go excellent in a salad. You can also opt for marinated tofu or tempeh bacon. Additionally, a grain always makes a salad super cute, try quinoa or cous cous – or throw some spiraled pasta in there for kicks.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t you dare give anyone those wretched oil and vinegar bottles unless they ask for it. Shame on you. Create delicious vegan dressings from things like olive oil, lemon, tahini, all the different types of vinegars, cashews or almonds for creaminess, herbs, spices, etc.
See, was that so hard? I promise you, your vegan and vegetarian customers will love you for it and your meat-eating crowd will eat your new, delicious salads too. Save the iceberg for the Beyond Burgers.
Main image: Flickr / Ged Carroll