Vegan restaurant trend shouldn’t put global cuisine on backburner – Albany Times Union

December 13, 2021 by No Comments

The restaurant industry as a whole has never garnered as much attention as it has through the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a rare day when the news cycle did not include a story on restaurant shut downs, loss of labor, food shortages, a shift to takeout and the debate over which restaurants should receive financial assistance, why and how.

But if a trend across restaurants has emerged during the pandemic, it would be the move toward vegan-focused restaurants, which even the most meat-centric cuisines are incorporating into their menus.

Veganism — the act of eating no animal products or foods that rely on animal byproduct, like wine filtered with oyster shell — has taken hold in the Capital Region restaurant scene, with a huge influx of plant-based restaurants flourishing under this business model. In Troy, Burrito Burrito turns the Tex-Mex staple into a meat-free option and Meadowlark offers vegan-exclusive catering, while The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Albany has served as proof positive that a vegan-focused restaurant can flourish. The result is a new cache of vegan restaurants in Albany — Bar Vegan, Wizard Burger, Healthy on Lark, Subculture — that play to the no-meat crowd. Others (Troy Beer Garden, Herbie’s Burger) have incorporated vegan items onto their menus to serve all palates and dining preferences.

Eaters and food writers herald the move toward plant-based cuisine as new and innovative, but in reality, veganism is as old as the act of eating itself, even here in the Capital Region. That point gets overlooked when focusing solely on the surge of new restaurants offering vegan options. 

“For thousands of years, Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern foods weren’t vegan as a fad. It’s something we’ve always done,” said Aneesa Waheed, chef and owner of Tara Kitchen Moroccan restaurants in Schenectady, Troy, Guilderland and Wildwood, N.J. At her restaurants, her menu is mostly composed of vegetable-focused dishes that eschew animal products for the native ingredients used in Moroccan cooking. While fish, chicken and lamb is available in certain preparations, the menu is largely vegan and vegetarian as true to traditional North African cuisine.

This pattern repeats itself elsewhere locally. While Lark Street and North Pearl Street in Albany have become hubs of vegan dining, long-established restaurants merely steps away have been serving vegan cuisine as staple menu items. At Mamoun’s Restaurant on Washington Avenue, most dishes are made in a vegan style, although they are not …….



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