I Tried a Plant-Based Restaurant
I feel like the ketogenic trend is slowly dissipating and now veganism or plant-based diets are becoming the next “trendy” thing to do. Something I must add before I say anything else is that veganism should not be considered a trend, as it is a respectable lifestyle that is not only limited to dietary restrictions. That being said, there is a difference between veganism and plant-based eating (and yes, I had to look it up). For the sake of simplicity, plant-based eating is purely the diet portion of veganism, where any animal products are not to be consumed, whereas veganism extends beyond the diet into everyday items as well (think cruelty-free, leather goods, basically anything that exploits the lives of animals). At least that is my basic understanding; I’d be happy to learn more in the comments section.
In early 2018, I adopted a flexitarian lifestyle which I would say was anywhere from 60-80% plant-based and 20-40% good ol’ omnivorous eating. It’s a very flexible system (hence the title) that allows me to order items off menus in places where substitution is not quite possible just yet (for example, many traditional Korean meals, including ones my mom makes, are often started with a fish or animal stock base or meat is a staple of a dish).
Why did I go flexitarian, you ask? I’ll skip the long story, but I was considered as a potential kidney donor for my mom, and the doctors and medical professionals we spoke with (trust me, we saw PLENTY) generally agreed that a diet that was limited in animal proteins are ideal for those with chronic kidney disease or failed kidneys (which was my mom’s case), and also something to consider for potential kidney donors or those who are at-risk of developing diabetes. In order to prolong the life of my mom’s kidneys before needing dialysis and to prepare mine for either donation or at least lower the risk of diabetes, we decided to significantly cut back on our consumption of animal products.
We were not very dairy-heavy people to begin with (my mom is lactose intolerant and I had made the switch to dairy-free milks a long time ago - cheese is another story), so most of our struggle was giving up our frequent visits to Korean barbecue restaurants and making braised short ribs and steak nights. While we did not completely eliminate all animal products from our diet (I can’t say no to honey on my smoothie bowls), trust me when I say that the presence of such things were SIGNIFICANTLY reduced over the last year.
So that brings us to now. I’ve enjoyed trying plant-based or vegan-friendly products that keep popping up at the grocery stores, and I have found them to be hit-or-miss (I still can’t get into jackfruit pulled “pork”), but something I hadn’t done is ordered something entirely plant-based at a restaurant. I found a Next Level Burger restaurant inside Whole Foods in Seattle (not sponsored), and the raving reviews meant one thing: I had to try it.
What we had:
The Special Burger - “meaty” patty, special sauce, dill pickles, “cheddar” style cheese, lettuce, and tomato. We got one on a whole wheat bun, and one on white. The patty was small compared to the bun, and you can tell it’s not real meat, but it was still pretty good! I’d give it 3.5/5
Special Style Fries - oven baked crinkle fries topped with grilled onions, melted “cheddar” style cheese, and special sauce. I can only compare this to the animal style fries from In-N-Out, mind the name. 4.5/5
Strawberry Shake - made with coconut ice cream. Literally the best shake I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m not kidding. These shakes are THICC. 10/5
The only downside to the restaurant is the price point. If I wanted two burgers, a fry, and a shake at any other fast food joint, I’d probably spend roughly $10-15, maybe closer to $20 at a sit-down restaurant. But we spent upwards of $40 even when we split the fries and the shake! So it’s probably not something I’d get often, but I’ll go back anytime for that shake.
Have you ever been to a plant-based restaurant? What was your experience? Any recommendations for vegan-friendly options when you’re out with friends or family? Let me know in the comments!