We here at Gastrofest are equal-opportunity eaters. Despite our omnivorous stance, we are ardent supporters of the vegans and vegetarians. Why? We believe having a strong vegetarian and vegan community adds to the vibrancy of our food scene.
Vegetarian dishes can tap into a chef’s creativity, getting them to not only, “think outside the meat,” but to also “think outside the vegetable.”Sure, fresh fruits and vegetables are central to the vegan or vegetarian diet, but there are whole other classes of food out there that they love as well: legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, grains (amaranth, barley, rice, buckwheat, bulger, farro, quinoa, spelt, couscous), and all the different kinds of “meat analogues” such as tofu, tempeh or seitan. Chefs get to try making an entree out of these, when ordinarily they’d just be a side dish, or in some cases, an afterthought. We think that’s a sad state of affairs, so we’re glad that organizations such as Girls Gone Green are getting chefs to think more about vegetarian dishes as a main event.
Farms grow and supply more interesting things because they have a larger community demanding it. Just like the rest of us, our plant-eating friends want to try new things. Veg-heads love interesting, unexpected and rich flavors, beautiful presentation and creativity. Who doesn’t? So chefs start experimenting with spices and ask farms to source out-of-the-ordinary fruits and vegetables. Farms also have more, very regular subscribers to delivered vegetable boxes, which feature a grab-bag of locally grown produce.
The more vegetarians and vegans band together to patronize places which understand that plant-based eaters eat a wide variety of foods, that good veg eating is never boring, and that it can easily be gorgeous and gourmet, the better it is for tables across Jacksonville. Whatever your reasons for becoming vegan or vegetarian, the folks of Gastrofest are glad that you’re a part of our community.