VegWeek discounts are disappointing portrayal of vegetarian options in DC

This week is VegWeek, which is a great concept in theory — meat-eaters pledge to go meatless for a week, and restaurants offer discounts so meat-eaters can see that eating vegetarian is delicious and not really much different than the food they eat now. But looking over the VegWeek specials in the DC area, I’m disappointed.

There are only about 10 discounts available, and a few of those are for cooking classes and not restaurants. And even then, a few are dessert-oriented. I think this unfortunately reflects how a lot of people feel about vegetarianism — that if you’re vegetarian you have to eat at specialized vegetarian, vegan restaurants, or if you want to eat something without meat, it’ll have to be a dessert because, well, how can you eat meals without meat?!

It’s great to get traffic to vegan-oriented and vegetarian-oriented restaurants to show meat-eaters that meals can be delicious with meat or animal products, don’t get me wrong. But vegetarians and vegans don’t live in a bubble, and you don’t have to sacrifice being social and going to “regular” restaurants just because you choose not to eat meat. Sure, you’ve got to be more selective — when everyone wants to chip in for chicken wings or nachos, you might have to politely decline or suggest something more veg-friendly — but it’s not impossible.

I like the idea of discounts on vegetarian and vegan food, but I just wish more restaurants were participating. I don’t want people to look at the short list of VegWeek participants and think it’s representative of how many vegetarian or vegan options are in the area, because it’s definitely not. You can go pretty much anywhere and find something on the menu that is either meatless or can be made without meat, so give the challenge a try. It might help get wider vegetarian selections at restaurants if more people are asking for more vegan and vegetarian options, too!

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