Life Cafe Blog
City Scoops: Where Have All the Vegans Gone?

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Is the carnivore the new face of social consciousness in the culinary world? Elizabeth Nolan Brown learns that even the hippest of the hip are turning their taste buds back to meat.

Ingrid Redman and Theo PeckIngrid Redman and Theo Peck

Picture a restaurant in Williamsburg, or maybe the East Village. The decor is eclectic and artfully bohemian. The clients are youngish, thin, disheveled, and artfully bohemian themselves. In another time, they may have been slinging back soy smoothies, or gobbling down black bean burgers and tofu scramble with tempeh bacon. But this crowd is, instead, ordering the pork-shoulder sandwich, the ostrich-meat sliders, and the salad topped with bone-marrow butter and rabbit paté.

For this crowd, meat is back.

“We’re putting less vegan items on our specials menu,” says Kathy Kirkpatrick, co-founder and president of Life Café (343 East 10th Street, 212.477.8791, lifecafe.com), the famed veg-centric, East Village eatery popularized in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent.”

“Vegan dishes are down in popularity.”

Kirkpatrick started Life Café in the 1980s as a purely vegetarian endeavor, but quickly introduced some meat dishes to keep her partly omnivorous clientele happy. “We give customers what they want,” Kirkpatrick says. “I don’t try to shove my food philosophy down their throats.”

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