I stopped eating meat almost four years ago, primarily for health reasons after reading The China Study, and cut out most dairy too. I do eat a bit of fish, for the vitamin B12 (and because it keeps me sane), and I still eat things that have butter in them/on them, because that makes me happy.
I’ve noticed over these past few years that, in the US at least, there are more and more veg-friendly options out there. Salad shops, soup shops, and also food from around the world that is delicious and not made with meat.
Where I still feel vegetarians are misunderstood is that, because it can be such a strange concept not to eat meat, many people assume that vegetarians go to the other extreme: that being vegetarian means that I eat side dishes all day long, food that’s more spare and has less flavor than meat-eaters would find satisfying. In fact, I have no interest in steamed broccoli with no salt or olive oil, nor do I like salads and raw, cold food much more than most people.
Great, complex, fully satisfying vegetarian main dishes are still hard to find, so when I come across them I’m quick to go back for more. The other day I had a vegan mushroom ramen from Mokbar that was every bit as ramen-y, rich, and delicious as I hoped it would be, and I was pretty amazed that they could create that much depth of flavor without any pork shoulder in the broth. That got me thinking about my top-top list of most delicious vegetarian dishes that erase any remaining longing for meaty goodness:
- Squash rice from the Fat Hen in Johns Island, South Carolina (just had this last month for the first time. Amazing)
- The Warm Farro & Fried Egg Salad from Red Hat Bistro in Irvington, NY (which may have disappeared from their menu, which would be a shame)
- Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich from CoBa, on 17th St and 9th Avenue
- Eggplant Sabich from Taim Falafel, 45 Spring Street, New York
- Black bean burger from Smashburger (far and away the best veg hamburger I’ve ever had)
- Lentil pie from the Tuck Shop in Chelsea Market
- Vegetarian chili recipe from Cooks Illustrated (umami-full flavors that win over the meat-eaters)
- Pumpkin Curry from Ariana Kebab House on 52nd Street and 9th Avenue
This list omits Indian restaurants, as I don’t have a favorite, and gets me thinking about great veg dishes at Thai restaurants.
What about you? What would you add to this list of great main course vegetarian dishes?