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Twin Cities offers plenty of vegetarian options

June 26, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
My city relatives showed their country cousin this weekend how much easier it is to be a vegetarian in the Twin Cities than it is in Minot. I did plenty of gawking.

Even the Red Robin my various relatives wanted to attend had vegetarian options. I was gobsmacked when the menu included not one but several choices, each with the option of a vegan or vegetarian burger, served up exactly the same way as my meat-eating family's dinners. It was one of the first times I've been able to go out to a restaurant like that without having to make do with an anemic green salad.

The Seward Cafe in south Minneapolis is a hipster-style, collectively run restaurant where customers write out their orders in pencil on a notepad at the front counter, hand it to the cashier and later bus their own tables. The tip jar on the counter has a large sign saying that the waiters split the tips evenly. The menu options were all conducive to someone on a rabbit food diet. I chose a tofu sandwich with walnut pesto sauce on whole wheat bread and a glass of organic vegetable juice.

The other veggie options at the restaurant were even veggier, if that's possible. I haven't seen quite so many college-age hipsters and aging hippies in one place since I was at a vegetarian restaurant in Berkeley more than a decade ago, but it seems to be a popular restaurant with people from all over the Cities. The restaurant has won some local awards for being the most vegetarian friendly restaurant and for being a feminist friendly restaurant.

My cousin decided that her vegetarian relative should get to see more vegetarian-friendly sites, so I was treated to a visit to the Minneapolis farmer's market, which was huge with farmers selling all kinds of local produce. There was some country influence there even in the big (well, biggish) city. One local musician sang John Denver's "Country Roads" while his partner held out a tin cup. I didn't see many coins being dropped into that cup but maybe the crowds were too thin. On a Saturday the farmer's market is probably such a madhouse that it would be impossible to find a parking spot.

The Twin Cities also has a Whole Foods grocery store full of pricy organic and specialty goods. It is not unlike the organic foods aisle at the local grocery, only expanded 10-fold. Instead of one selection for a particular item there are several. The produce is also displayed in a more decorative fashion and the clerks were friendly and eager to offer recommendations for the best kind of chocolate bar or the most tasty variety of noodles, sometimes approaching us first. I went home with a variety of soups that I know I can't find anywhere in the state.

I returned home with a wistful sigh. I will just have to find a way to get to the Twin Cities more often.


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