How far has “vegan” come? Far enough that I can walk around the corner to the doughnut shop and get me a vegan apple fritter or maple-glazed. Or there’s this other place a half-mile south. Or a mile east or west. Or at least five other places within two miles. Granted, I live in Portland, Oregon, not Peoria, Illinois, but I think it’s still impressive. And it just takes the right person in Peoria to read a Portland girl’s account of a vegan apple fritter and be inspired to open up a vegan doughnut shop—or even sweet-talk the local doughnutwright into offering vegan treats as an option. (Baby steps are a lot more common than quantum leaps.)
My city is so vegan-friendly (or accepting or tolerant) that we can afford to have really bad vegan food and love it. There’s a dive bar here, Tube*, that in spite of the fact that they can serve up one hell of a gourmet vegan pancake, the late-night snacks are just sad. Perfect example: The cheese sticks are sort of warmed-up fluffy bread with melted Daiya cheddar. But when you’re paying $2 for a well drink and sitting on a duct-taped bench I suppose greasy, bland food is part of the charm.
I guess we’ve reached the point here where we don’t have anything to prove. We’ve shown that vegan can be posh and gorgeous—to combat the hippie lentil loaf image. Now we can go low-brow, slum it a bit. You’ve had beet tartare, now grab a corndog or some totchos (yes, nachos with tots instead of chips).
Evolution and devolution all at once.
*For the record, I love Tube. The moment I stepped foot in there I felt at home. It’s not the first time I’ve sat on duct tape.