Saturday, January 28, 2012

Soul Vegetarian (Chicago - Atlanta - DC)

     It's interesting to see how a lot of food is still regional, both culturally and geographically. Such is still the case with real-deal American soul food. Collards, kalebone, popcorn chicken, things I'd never have been exposed to even the original version of, let alone a healthy vegan one. They don't seem to cross the border into the Great White North. Soul Veg is...what's a nice way to say, off the beaten cracker-ass path? Not located near a Starbucks? No Wi-fi?

     Soul Vegetarian has been saving my vegan ass on the US road for over a decade. The three locations I've always frequented are the Chicago, DC and Atlanta ones, although looking into it now it seems there are Soul Veg's in Tallahassee, Houston and a host of cities internationally from Israel to Africa and West Indies. And in a related story, they represent a branch of the African Hebrew Israelites (it's complicated, go HERE for the long version). Like Rastafarians, I can't say I agree altogether with their idea of what is and isn't sexually "natural", but I like their approach to food. Wanna stick to that? Great idea! 

     Just one quick ramble, though:

     Historically, the places with the highest percentage of centenarians in the world have been poor rural farming communities - people who worked in fields and whose diet consisted mainly of the foods that were most economic to grow - greens and grains such as rice, which are easy to digest and full of iron, minerals and vitamins. Ironically, when you look at the foods that poorer people (of any stripe) have traditionally had the most immediate access to, there is less processing or additives and a lot of nutrition...potentially. By contrast, old school soul food - born out of the slavery era - was starchy, fatty and high in calories, comfort food that suited the needs of someone working long hours of forced labor. As a diet though, it left a whole generation of people at abnormally high risk of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. 

     As most purists will argue, making soul food healthy, without lard, is taking it out of context. I'm sure not in any position argue with that. But then, the context was slavery. Being safely out of that era, why associate a healthy approach with gentrification? Why would you carry forward the detrimental part of the tradition rather than tailoring it to do the best for the bodies and minds of the people eating it? This is Soul Vegetarian's mandate, and I like it. 


Atlanta: Country Fried Steak, Mac & Cheese and Broccoli. LINK - MAP
DC: Breakfast Wraps (weekends only sucker!)  LINK - MAP
Chicago: BBQ Protein Tidbits, BBQ Twist Sandwich. MENUMAP

*Honorable Mention: If you're in DC, another great spot just down the street from SV is Everlasting Life  (LINK). The mac & cheese will blow your mind.


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