Last week, I put what I thought would be a small challenge before the more earth-friendly readers of this column: find me some decent vegan BBQ in the area.
True, I had some rules. But there were only three, and they were about as basic and non-invasive as I could make them. The veggie-cue in question had to be A) made like barbecue, B) have the same taste and texture as barbecue made properly, and C) be at least as good as the worst actual (meaning meat-based) barbecue I've ever had.
Simple, right? I figured this was going to be an easy win for the vegans and vegetarians in the crowd, and I was really looking forward to tasting the results.
Unfortunately, things didn't really work out the way I'd intended.Yes, the post inspired a lot of shouty commenting from both sides of the herbivore/carnivore divide. That I expected. Yes, there was a fair amount of name calling and offers from individual people to throw a wad of tofu in their backyard smokers just to see what would happen. I expected this, too.
But when it came right down to the whole point of this discussion--which was to find some good BBQ alternatives for those who have denied themselves the glory and deliciousness of a pig, nicely smoked--it seems that the vegans in town have come up seriously short. I received exactly TWO suggestions for actual places to go for vegan BBQ. And one of those two places was in Portland.
You guys suck.
No, for reals. The OTHER reason for me posing this challenge to Seattle's meatless community was that I was sick of getting Gestapo'ed by the vegan Fun Police every time I wrote about getting a little pig in me. I was sick of all the ridiculous comments by militant jerk-offs trolling around the site and trying to convert people like a bunch of pasty, Moosewood Cookbook-toting missionaries. I was sick of people talking all about the "delicious vegetarian alternatives" to pulled pork, a rack of ribs and some brisket without ever, you know...mentioning a single fucking one. This was my olive branch--my attempt at reaching across the divide and trying to walk a mile in the hemp sandals of my tofu-loving brethren.
And for that, of the nearly 30 comments and half-dozen emails the original post generated, I get one actual suggestion for one restaurant in the entire Seattle area. The place: Sage Cafe--a well-known and well-loved vegetarian institution, to be sure, and one that does offer some form of vegetable-centric BBQ.
So tell me, vegans... Is this seriously all there is? Is there nothing else out there--no other restaurant that attempts barbecue within a vegetarian canon, no other cook who attempts to slow-smoke and dry-rub anything that's not pig or cow or salmon or whatever? I mean, I'm happy to go to Sage and check it out (and will surely give a chance to Homegrown Smoker down in Portland if I ever find the time since it was the only other suggestion I received), but I just want to know if there's something else out there I really shouldn't miss.
Because if there isn't, then I think it's time for you to stop pretending there are actual options for vegan 'cue out there and let me and my friends all eat our pig in peace. After all, it's not like we come to your parties and mock you for eating carrots.
At least not all the time.