I remember being 16 and telling my family I was no longer going to eat meat. I had just read my first book about being an animal activist and had dreams of joining the fight for animal rights. Was it teenage rebellion? I’m not sure. But like most teenage phases it was short-lived, ending with me devouring a hot dog at a cookout during my first freshman year at St. Cloud State.
Fast forward to 2010, when I decided to take meat off my plate. I eventually transitioned to a diet where I eat vegan (no meat, fish, eggs or dairy) about 80 percent of the time, but it hasn’t come without its challenges—the most difficult being trying to find something to eat other than a wilted iceberg lettuce salad or fries when I go out with friends.
I went to Portland two years ago and was overwhelmed by the vegetarian and vegan food choices. They even had a bakery with drool-worthy baked goods and ice cream that were completely free of animal products. Everywhere I went, I was able to eat at least half of the items on the menu. I was in food heaven. . Check out this vegan breakfast burrito! Yum.
It’s one of the things I love most about Portland, so I was excited to hear that a new restaurant called J. Selby’s was opening in St. Paul that offered an entirely plant-based menu. Yes, we have French Meadow, Reverie and the Herbivorous Butcher (a vegan butcher shop—yes, you read that right), but when you consider the size of Minneapolis and St. Paul, we can certainly do better when it comes to offering meat free options.
The overwhelming demand for this type of food in the Twin Cities was proven when J. Selby’s had to close early during their opening week to prepare for the massive crowds. They’re still working on hiring additional staff and are hoping to open again soon. Amazing, right? As vegetarianism and veganism become more popular, I think more restaurants needs to step up to the plate (pun intended) if they want to grow their customer base.
I’m not saying all restaurants need to get on the veggie train, but I would love to see more flavorful, plant-based options at our local restaurants. Portland, Los Angeles and New York are known as being a haven for plant-based foodies. Let’s get Minneapolis and St. Paul added to that list!