Salads do not Count as Vegetarian Options (Stop Lying to Yourself)

Photo by: Li Ling Lee (Devon Colwell and Sequoia Marriott disappointed over salad)

By: Jessica Marvin/Co-editor in Chief

“You’re sure they have vegetarian options there?” You ask your friend from the driver’s seat. They nod and you follow the stoplight’s cue to keep driving.

Your stomach churns as you approach the restaurant, anticipating the delicacies that will soon satisfy it. You’ve been waiting all too long, allowing your hunger to grow with every passing minute in order to indulge in as much cuisine as your little heart desires. The air, perfumed with the scents of the dishes awaiting you inside, fills your lungs and your eyes close without asking permission. You’re ready to pump your stomach full. In fact, you’ve never been more ready to consume your weight in carbohydrates.

Stepping up to the door, you’re engulfed by a sea of hostesses and waiters clamoring to seat you.
“How many?” A woman asks you. Your friend, who you’d forgotten about in the wake of your gluttonous thoughts, answers her, and your party is guided to a quaint little table in the far corner of the building.
As the waitress hands out the menus, you salivate over the dramatically lit pictures on the cover. Your friend passes a glance at you, and with a quizzical voice, asks, “You do offer vegetarian options here, right?” The waitress gives a light nod, ponytail bobbing behind her.
“Yes! We have a great selection of salads!”

And with those words, your entire body is set ablaze, spontaneous combustion being your coping method of choice during moments of grave disappointment. Not only this, but your wife leaves you, the interest on your student loans increase to 50%, and worst of all, you’re forced to settle for glorified rabbit feed.

This is a situation far too familiar to those who opt for plant-based diets, and as a member of this group, I demand discourse.

For starters, SALADS ARE NOT A MAIN COURSE; they are a side, if that. They never fill you up and therefore do not deserve the spotlight. A bowl of lettuce and oil, no matter how many vegetables you add, is a sad excuse for a dish, and I believe that establishments that offer them as a whole meal should be ashamed. Even worse are the restaurants that advertise salads as being “vegetarian options”. Here’s where my qualms lie. 

When you go out to eat, even as a vegetarian, you expect not only for your hunger to be satisfied (a basic expectation that salads do not meet), but also to enjoy the food you’re surely over-paying for. By advertising that your restaurant provides meat-free options, you’re making a promise to your clients that you can fulfill their needs. And serving only salads as these so-called, “vegetarian options” violates the implicit contract between you and your consumers. The trust is broken, and many nights ruined yet again by iceberg lettuce and corporate greed.

Perhaps my anger is misplaced. Perhaps these restaurants truly believe they are serving proper vegetarian cuisine. But listen, salads don’t make anyone happy. It doesn’t matter what kind of diet you choose to follow, they’re lacking, they’re depressing, they’re the Katy Perry of food items.

Not to mention that actually expecting vegetarians to feel fulfilled on a measly salad results in a massive disservice and is, frankly, upsetting. There are so many meatless food options available- I mean, how hard would it be to add a simple veggie patty alternative to the burger menu? This simple change would be enough for the meatless option claim to be legitimized. I’m not even saying all restaurants should have to cater to vegetarians, I only want the ones who claim to do so to actually fulfill their promise, and for those who don’t, to be honest about it. If all your restaurant serves are meat-based dishes and some salads, just say so.

In short, just because I gave up animal products doesn’t mean I gave up happiness. I just want a gosh-darn veggie burger and for restaurants to be honest with me (also, salad prohibition), is that too much to ask for?

Jessica Marvin is a stressed senior who lives for participating in dance and theatre. When she’s not dancing or at rehearsal, she enjoys writing poetry (usually in Spanglish) and hopes to one day have the confidence of a telenovela villain.