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| Columns |

SoBeWFF Unkind to Vegetarians

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If you didn't get to partake in any of the epic adventures that went down this past weekend at the SoBeWFF - we're so sorry. It was everything we could have possibly imagined -- nothing less than the Garden of Eden; Shangri-La; Nirvana. There were copious quantities of cocktails, edible swag, sauced up celebrity chefs. 96 hours of food, booze and non-stop fun.

But among the impressive lineup of gourmet eats and after parties, there was one thing missing: vegetarian love. Granted, improvements for herbivores have made in the past decade or so. After all, this year's schedule included an entire vegetarian dinner by Nobu. That's progress. But the majority of foodstuffs keep carnivores in mind, which is a major bummer for the meat-free.

There were vegetarian options here and there. A decadent, cheesy ravioli at the Trucks on Midtown's Tracks; sweet, nutty roasted corn at Garden and Glass; a luxurious tangerine pot de creme at the Baking Out Loud seminar.

But, even Hedy's dessert lineup contained candied bacon. Nothing against meat eaters, but don't vegetarian foodies deserve a little love too?

Most restaurants and food trucks could easily offer a vegetarian option. For example, local fave Ms. Cheezious served up a pulled pork sammy at the food truck event. Why not make a meat-free version, too? (Note: they did mention that they were happy to make it sans meat when asked, which is awesome.) It's excellent when restaurants and chefs are flexible with diners, but at an event where many of the dishes are pre-planned or pre-prepared, that's not always possible. More vegetarian menu items or offerings arranged ahead of time would make life easier for the herbivorous.

And for vegans? Fuggedaboutit. Vegans attending the SoBeWFF would be doomed to subsist on nothing more than pinot grigio and tequila shots. Delicious, yes? Nutritious? Not so much. They'd be hard-pressed to find a single animal-free product on the festival grounds.

As vegetarianism and veganism become more mainstream, the trend has yet to reflect at many foodie haunts and major events. The misconception that meat-free foods aren't as diverse, delicious or versatile as their meaty counterparts is totally false. What with meat substitutes, creative cooking and farm-to-table trends - veggie based foods are all kinds of interesting. And there's plenty of room for their inclusion at events like these.

Not to mention, vegans and vegetarians are used to doling out cash to feed their herbivorous habit. They're a major market, and one that festivals like the SoBeWFF are missing out on by not offering more meat-free alternatives.

As the world becomes more attuned to the issues of factory farming and animal cruelty, vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice is bound to increase in popularity. So chefs, restaurants and event organizers -- please think of your fruitarian friends. 'Cuz vegetarians are foodies too.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.

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