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Silicon Veggie

When Good Vegetarians Go Bad

By Elisa Camahort

WHAT DO YOU do when your favorite vegetarian restaurant adds meat? What do you do when a veggie friend starts eating meat?

If you're a vegetarian, it's pretty cool to find a like-minded person. Someone whose eyes don't roll back in their head when you suggest that Chinese place that serves vegetarian "meat" products. And as a vegetarian, it's great when you find a vegetarian restaurant that isn't just another Chinese place that serves vegetarian meat products.

Well, I had my one good fellow vegetarian friend go back to meat. And I had my favorite upscale vegetarian place that was actually outside of San Francisco (Stoa in Palo Alto) start serving fish.

I think I'm having abandonment issues.

When it comes to the friend, well, I just have to deal. I have to remind myself that she believed what she believed when she was raising her kids vegan and scolding me for being only lacto-ovo. And now her beliefs have changed. And she still buys organic, and she still won't buy fur. And any step is better than no step. And I'm all for personal freedom. (And if I just keep repeating it to myself like a mantra, I'm sure the vein in my forehead will stop throbbing.) There's a more complicated question when it comes to patronizing restaurants that have diverged from the vegetarian path:

OPTION NO. 1: You punish the establishment for adding meat, poultry or fish. Boycott it for returning to the same cruelty-laden menu as most of the other places in town.

OPTION NO. 2: You note that its menu or merchandise is still far more veggie-friendly than those said other places, and you continue to give your hard-earned economic vote to places that are at least closer to your ethos.

I'm of two minds. Sometimes the reason I went to a particular place was mostly about a desire to support vegetarian establishments, not just veggie-friendly ones. I'd drive a bunch of extra miles to do that. But those miles don't seem worth driving for a mere veggie-friendly place, do they? Nope, they don't.

I guess it really comes down to this: Places that have lost their veggie luster are worth going to when you're in the neighborhood, but not making a special trip for. I just can't believe that in the San Francisco Bay Area there seem to be fewer special trips for me to make!

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From the May 4-10, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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