The chef at Dirt Candy just posted a blog entry about the politics and press around eating vegetables, Vegetables: Never Good Enough. Dirt Candy is an all-vegetarian restaurant that doesn't make a big stink about being all-vegetarian (and vegan friendly). They're not interested in pushing veg politics or selling you some kind of miraculous health food diet. It's just about the vegetables.
The beginning of the article addresses one of the things that often bother me when I run into non-veg folks, and that's the idea that meat is the star feature of every meal, and vegetables are the stuff that you're stuck with on the side that you are forced into eating. I think it's this idea that contributes to the inevitable question, "You don't eat meat?! Well then, what DO you eat?" as if there's nothing left.
The article goes on to explain how heirloom vegetables and the locavore movement are hot topics for the press and now these boutique type vegetables are turning into an expensive fad. Normal carrots are still boring. I see this same shift in the grocery stores, too, where there are now significantly more options for organic products at a higher price point that are still heavily processed food. On one hand, if these movements get people eating more vegetables and expanding their diets, that can only be a good thing. On the other hand, if it's truly a fad cooked up by the press, then we're really no better off than we were before. (We as vegetarians and we as general public.)
Anyway, I just wish more people would give vegetarian options a fair shake. I wish omnivores would look at the vegetarian options in "normal" restaurants and give them a try, and maybe see that you can have a complete, delicious meal without meat. I'm not even asking for everyone ever to be vegetarian, but I wish people would take a moment and consider eating mindfully, and recognize and enjoy the abundance of plant-based foods.
As an aside, if you ever find yourself in NYC, you should totally eat at Dirt Candy. I would totally be there every week if I lived there! YUM.