Mondays go Meatless as Movement Picks up Legs


It's Monday. And for many restaurant owner the day is meatless. Meatless Monday.

And, if you have not joined the movement, it may be time to take meat off your menu- or just develop a completely new menu – for Mondays, using only vegetables.

A very weird idea? Especially for a steak house, a rib joint, or a burger bar, right? Wrong. The movement, my friends, is upon us. And, as one who loves meat, I am noticing more and more that I am going the route of strictly vegetables.

It seems every where I turned over the past three days, the love of vegetables has been in the air.

I ran into Sonoma restaurateur John Toulze last Thursday and he had just completed a gopher hunt on his large plot of tomatoes, zucchini, field greens and strawberries he and his staff have been cultivating and harvesting for The Girl and the Fig, Estate and The Fig Caf? that he and Sondra Bernstein own and operate throughout Sonoma Valley. The thought of dining in a restaurant where one of the owners is working the land is a beautiful vision.

On Friday night I had one of the best appetizers I had ever tasted at Sea Thai Bistro. Owner Tony Ounpamornchai created a simple, but remarkable dish of Tempura squash Flowers with an Avocado and Jalapeno relish complimented with a soy ginger sauce. The appetizer could have easily have been an entr?e item as the whole squash flowers were giamongous and worth fighting over with my wife, Kranston. It was an easy compromise though as she had the last bite of Tempura and I opted for the cool, yet spicy relish.

During a Sunday evening interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, Chef Jose Andres defined his interpretation of why fruit and vegetables are the way of the future.

“Well, meat to me, it’s slightly boring. Hold on, I love meat too but only once in a while. You get a piece of meat and you put it in your mouth, you chew, the first five seconds, all the juices flow around your mouth, they’re gone, and then you are 20 more seconds chewing something that is tasteless at this point. Something like this doesn’t happen with a pineapple, an asparagus, or a green pea.”

Andres advocate the use of vegetables for true, lasting flavor and sexiness in dining.

Finally, on Monday morning I awoke to a piece on Meatless Mondays, featuring Sid Lerner, the 79 year old Madison Avenue Ad executive who began the movement to make Mondays, well, meatless.

What a perfect day to try something new. Mondays have long been the day of drudgery for many restaurants. That big weekend suddenly sizzles once Mondays roll around and all the campaigns, and gimmicks in the world – with the exception of football- could change that.

Now, there may be a chance to change the popularity of your restaurant on Mondays, have some fun with your menu, increase your profitability and help to change the way people look at food and eat it.

So next week, get on the Meatless Monday band wagon. Put a veggie burger on your menu. Try a hearty vegetable chili. Develop some entr?e salads that are not only pleasing to the palate but beautiful to look at. Stuff an heirloom tomato with couscous, Mozzarella and Basil. Tempura fried eggplant is delightful when built it into a stack with a variety of thickly sliced cheeses, heirloom tomatoes, basil and drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar. Get creative. Enjoy the freshness of the season. Get rid of the meat for one day each week and see how the attitude of your customers, your staff and you account likes it.

I bet each will be a little happier. That's the point of diversion.