When I first became a vegetarian (early 1980’s), innovative culinary choices were few and far between. Most of my meals were simple variations on our normal family meals with the meat left out. When going out to eat, I was lucky if I had two choices on the menu. The first choice was usually a salad and baked potato, the second was pasta (usually alfredo, but occasionally primavera). I would look at menus with creative dishes that sounded sooo good….if I could only get something similar without the meat.

 My best meals were often at restaurants with NOTHING vegetarian on the menu. If I knew this would be the case, I would call ahead of time to ask if the chef could accommodate me. If not, I’d look at the menu, explain the situation and ask if I could create a plate – How about a plate with some of those garlic smashed potatoes, the sauteed veggie of the day, and maybe that cranberry, walnut salad without the chicken.

Today there are so many more choices! I can find something good to eat almost anywhere and more importantly it is usually something more interesting than an iceberg lettuce salad with shredded carrots. Having had so few choices in the past has made me so thankful for the choices I have now. I LOVE being able to try new and interesting things! Many of the restaurants with truly innovative vegetarian food tend to be more expensive…or not in Columbia, SC. That is part of the reason why I’ve started to cook more often.  There are great vegetarian recipes available and many of them are not that difficult or time-consuming to make.

Columbia does have some great vegetarian choices in restaurants. I’ll cover those in another blog entry.