Vegie Bar is the busy dirty Chinese restaurant for vegetarians.
Young, environmentally-conscious, fashionable vegetarians.
It’s so hip even non-vegetarians eat there.
And why wouldn’t they? The menu is actually exciting.
There is no consistent theme; just all the vegetarian menu in Melbourne assembled in one place.
Nachos, Pad Thai, Moroccan stew on cous cous, pizza, burgers, curries, wraps … Imagine all the fast food, comfort food, gourmet food, wanky food, take away the meat component, and you’ll get a gist of what Vegie Bar serves.
Appetising, well-seasoned, colourful food.
You’ll be doubtful for sure, but then you see the portions, and you know they’ve subsidised the ‘lack of meat’ with quantity.
This is amazing. And it can only work in Melbourne. (Actually, maybe only Smith Street.) It’s got the trifecta: not too expensive for the target market ($15 a dish), it’s healthy(maybe) and you get to feel good about it.
My first impression a few years ago was nothing short of awe.
Like, this is the solution to end all arguments.
This is the future of sustainable food.
The argument to stop Jonathan Safran Foer’s self serving book about eating animals.
The answer to all the nasty documentaries about how cows, pigs and chickens getting tortured for our sins.
We get to preserve our culinary history without much sacrifice.
Just take the meat out. So easy.
Like how we take out ingredients we don’t like in certain dishes.
But now, I’m all old and cynical.
While I was eating my falafel wrap yesterday, I realised companies will not stop producing meat because people are eating less meat.
They will simply throw the excess away.
Just like how oil companies will not stop rigging the oceans even with the successful discovery of alternative energy sources; they will simply sell it to poor countries who needs them, or simply increase the locations to hold F1 Grand Prix.
The idea that the customers’ purchase power can affect the environment was an optimistic one.
But I’m not sure if it’s really practical anymore.
Perhaps I’m over-thinking it again.
Food has always been personal, not about saving the world.
Vegie Bar is just a place we can have fun and feel good about it.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.