Spokane, we have a problem. A big, boring, boring, indiscriminate, plant-based problem.
Pick a city, any city – as small and Spokane-esque as London, Ontario, as big as Atlanta or New York – and you’re pretty much sure to find other interesting vegan options.
We are talking about a purely vegetable-based Mexican food stand. Or completely vegan Thai food. Vegan sushi. Plant-based Nicaraguan food. Or, dare I say, vegan breakfast.
Take Atlanta for example. I recently visited the American air hub on a whim, and what I found amazed me: more vegan options than I could ever try in a week, let alone a month.
Even more heartbreaking: the vegan options had style. Pizza. One vote. A soul. There was a vegetarian soul food restaurant with a barbecue and non-dairy ice cream. There was a small Mexican restaurant in a grocery store that served hot jackfruit and stuffed peppers.
And then there was a burger joint with a name that was downright not family-friendly. The restaurant was loud and blatant. They called your order over blaring hip-hop music. If it was your first time, they made sure everyone knew.
All of this got me thinking: What kinds of herbal options would Spokane’s herbalists want to see? And do you think Spokane could ever be as hip and cool as Atlanta?
CJ Morrison of Courage for Animals
When CJ Morrison, head of the vegan outreach group Courage for Animals, doesn’t protest for animal rights at Pig Out in the Park, Hoopfest and other Spokane events, he has only one simple wish: a vegan taco.
And no, not the kind that one could theoretically achieve by asking for an over-the-top order in any restaurant. She wants options, baby. And if these are hanging from a truck parked somewhere in the city center at, say, 2 a.m., so much the better.
“I would love to see so much vegan Mexican food,” said Morrison. “A whole vegan Mexican restaurant would be crazy. This is the hardest thing to find here without editing it. “
And as for the next morning, nothing would be better than a purely vegan coffee stand. Maybe a vegan breakfast as a supplement.
Morrison says when visiting other cities it’s hard not to be jealous. Even places like Dallas seem to have us cornered.
There’s a place there called Spiral Diner and Bakery. It has “everything you can imagine” like pancakes (including gluten-free), nachos, tofu scrambles, breakfast burritos, burgers, sandwiches, salads and smoothies.
The best part? Every item is completely vegan. No chance of mix-up or accidental serving of beef. “If it’s not completely vegan, there are all these horror stories of mistakes,” she said. “It’s spreading in the vegan community. It can happen anytime. “
Josh Lorenzen, vegan restaurateur
There was a time when Josh Lorenzen struggled with his food identity. The co-owner of RÜT and Cascadia Public House has been eating plant-based, purely vegan for years – he doesn’t eat meat, but doesn’t say no to dairy products or eggs either.
For many, this can be a tiresome subject. It’s hard to talk about, let alone admit, especially after taking the plunge into full-time veganism. But for Lorenzen it shaped his entire way of thinking: Why be ashamed of something when the entire movement could benefit from people being more open-minded?
A plant-based diet works best when newcomers and looky-loos feel welcome, he says, and not belittled. “Plant-based nutrition is just good for you,” he said. “And reducing your animal consumption is great for the world. RÜT takes it up and makes it accessible. “
RÜT has a good reputation. Since opening in 2019, the small restaurant on lower South Hill has been busy attracting all types of diners with varying degrees of open-mindedness. What Lorenzen often hears, however, is how accessible vegan cooking can be when done right.
And that’s exactly what he’d like to see more of. More restaurants that offer more vegan dishes. And not just as a concession.
Places like Cascadia, which recently opened a new location near Gonzaga. The restaurant and pub are known for embracing two different cultures – a “normal” menu for the meat eaters and a vegan menu for the boycotters.
“I think it would be great to have a more conscious approach for people to sit around a table,” he said. “That means there are all possible areas of life. Some are more meat and potatoes. I would like to go out to eat with them and order a vegetable meal. “
Arica O’Dell, vegan hairdresser
On Instagram she is Vegangelical, a fun-loving hairdresser whose customers wear bright, colorful hair that is possible with completely vegan products (no filters required). Offline, like the rest of us, she craves food that the vegan Spokane scene simply cannot fulfill.
“It would be really great to have a Buddha bowl place or a place where you can get vegan Italian food like lasagna or eggplant parmesan,” said O’Dell. “I make a killer lasagna, but it would be nice if other people could get it.”
Like their full-service hairdressing appointments, their suggestions don’t stop there. She wants everything. More food trucks (vegan or otherwise), a vegan Indian restaurant, a vegan buffet, or a place to get a salad for less than $ 18. The question is, could Spokane support that? And would it?
Like an ant colony, the local vegan community often reports to the beehive about where to find the next best vegan treasure trove. Maybe it’s a particularly good deal in the grocery outlet. Or a taco stand in Spokane Valley that tests a vegan menu on Saturdays.
If this continues, Atlanta – no, New York – is the limit. “Spokane, I think we can definitely deal with some cool restaurants,” said O’Dell. “We are on our way.”