A go-to statement for critics of vegan and vegetarian food is that "vegetarians have forgotten what good food tastes like". Browse vegan restaurant reviews and you'll quickly find someone stating how great a particular restaurant is-- but only for vegans. This perspective, expressed by meat-eaters conveys that vegans have become accustomed to tastes of mediocrity.
This seemingly benevolent type of valuation makes sense when talking about meat substitutes. Vegans who tell a meat-eater how much tofurky or veggie bacon tastes like real bacon or turkey are deluded. But, this attitude has migrated from talking about meat substitutes to the notion that all vegan food is a compromise and meat eaters should avoid these restaurants. It's a myth propagated by a misinformed majority dependent on salt and fat.
Try this experiment at home or along with me in your head. Think of (or try) the taste of chicken if it was not fried in oil or seasoned in any way. Imagine the taste of beef without any added marinade or spice. What flavor is it that you like so much about your favorite meat dishes? Compare the flavor of the plain meat to the range of flavors in the pictures above. Certainly, farm-fresh, properly fed, non-drugged, cleanly slaughtered animals have taste. Certain types of fish and a quality steak have taste, but for the most part, particularly with fast-food meat, flavors come from spices and other additives that are vegetable based.
It's many meat-eaters who have conditioned themselves to appreciate a narrow variety of food, not the other way around. Viewing thousands of diverse flavors only as a way to enhance a handful of often bland meat varieties is silly.
Yes, there are meat eaters smart enough to avoid low-quality meat who enjoy their food like a fine wine or coffee. But, in general, the perspective that vegan restaurants serve bland food is only for meat-eaters with over-stimulated and numbed out taste buds, and should be recognized as such.
**This is part of a series of posts on vegetarianism in which I'll try to avoid the cliche topics of the lifestyle. New posts on Thursdays. Click on the "eating animals" tag above for more.**