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Experiments in Vegan Visibility

Is this underrepresented diet making community inroads?



 



Eating a diet free from animal products is by no means a new idea – but it is often still difficult to find vegan options that aren’t afterthoughts in mainstream restaurants. That may be in the process of changing, though, as establishments like Vast plan to elevate the perception of thoughtful meat-free dining.
 

Vegan cuisine exists on the periphery of mainstream food culture, not as a trend, but as the preference of a small minority of diners who choose a plant-based diet based on convictions or nutrition. In May, though, Chef Kurt Fleischfresser added vegan to the menu at Vast, and not as an afterthought. Does the city’s most visible restaurant adding a vegan menu signal a shift in the culinary landscape of Oklahoma City?

Some ethnic foods (notably Indian) provide traditional vegan options. Vietnamese diner Pho Ca Dao on NW Classen even has vegan pho that uses mushroom broth instead of meat stock. Andrea Koester, the co-owner of mobile donut and pastry vendor Holey Rollers – which produces vegan pastries – says that vegan can be done well if there is a commitment to it.

“One of the main reasons vegan has been easier for other cultures is that they don’t share our obsession with cheese. That’s why Indian restaurants typically have so many vegan options: no cheese and no cooking with animal fat.”

Holey Rollers sends out their donut truck a couple of times a week, and many customers have no idea they are eating vegan, partly because the donuts are so good and partly because vegans don’t typically have a ton of dessert or pastry options.

The typical experience of vegan diners is very consistent. Greg Dimond, a regular at Elemental Coffee – a destination restaurant for vegans in the metro – said he has seen many restaurants where a salad or veggie plate was all that was available. “I was in a popular Tulsa restaurant recently that specialized in smoked meats,” he says. “All they could put together was a head of iceberg lettuce, quartered, with tomatoes and vinaigrette.”


Fleischfresser said that is not atypical for restaurants that don’t have a commitment to vegan dining. “It’s frustrating for a customer to discover that a restaurant only has steamed broccoli or cauliflower or a salad,” he explains. “At the same time, it’s really difficult to make good vegan food if you don’t plan for it.”

Vast Executive Chef Patrick Williams came up with the idea of a trial vegan menu. The restaurant has several regulars who are vegan, and while Williams and Chef de Cuisine Kevin Le could put something together with a little advance notice, Fleischfresser said making menu items part of daily prep makes for better quality, simply because good stocks and purees take time to do right.

“Kevin Le has spent a lot of time on this menu,” Fleisch-fresser says. “He is not looking up recipes online; he’s creating them himself.”

For the May dinner, Le made tomato carpaccio with smoked onion jam, beet risotto with chive oil and rigatoni pasta with morel mushrooms and English peas. In other words, he is not just throwing together veggie plates or boring salads.

Le was a graduate of Fleischfresser’s apprenticeship program at The Coach House, and Fleischfresser said Le excelled at the vegetarian/vegan element of the curriculum. “The training is technique-driven,” Fleischfresser says, “but how you apply the techniques is up to individual chefs, especially given the large number of fresh, local ingredients we have to work with.”

The vegan menu is available the last week of the month and only at dinner, and features a four-course meal – usually an appetizer, soup/salad, entrée and dessert. Optional wine pairings from Vast’s expansive list will be available at an additional cost of $20. Fleischfresser asked that interested customers make a reservation and inform the restaurant that they are coming for the vegan menu.

July will be the last month of the official experiment unless it is well received. Diners who give it a try might find themselves with a new perspective on vegan flavor.  

 

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Calendar

September 2018

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Organizations making a positive impact on the health of Oklahomans will be honored at the 2018 Champions of Health Gala. All proceeds benefit the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, a non-profit...

Cost: TBD

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918.551.2164
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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Take Steps is the Foundation’s largest nationwide fundraising event where patients, loved ones, friends and supporters empower and inspire each other to continue the fight against...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Telephone: 972.386.0607
Contact Name: Jackie Peterson
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
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