It’s almost time to announce the winners of the 2013 VegCharlotte Awards … but I first, I wanted to explain the concept and the methodology I used.
The VegCharlotte Awards were created after I read one too many articles about “Best Vegetarian Food in Charlotte” or “Best Vegan Food in Charlotte” – articles that were written by omnivore food critics.
I appreciate that local publications are now *starting* to acknowledge us, and I appreciate the fact that food critics are open-minded enough to sample the local veg cuisine.
But every time I read one of those articles, I have the same immediate, emotional reaction. “HEY! That food critic eats lamb, veal, and foie gras! FOIE GRAS, for heaven’s sake! How can she POSSIBLY judge the best veg food in Charlotte?”
Even after I calm down, I still have doubts.
Going vegetarian and later vegan has had an enormous impact on my culinary taste and preferences:
- Once I no longer ate food with the strong, pervading flavor of meat, I became much more aware of and sensitive to spices.
- Once I was no longer eating milk, butter, and cheese, I became accustomed to “lighter” foods. Whenever I do eat something that contains dairy, it “feels” and “tastes” very rich and heavy.
- I explored a variety of ethnic foods (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.) and became more adventurous.
- Out of necessity, I have to cook much of my own food and therefore eat a minimum of processed food. I am now highly attuned to freshness and quality ingredients.
Seriously, can anyone truly judge vegan food – except another vegan?!
Enter the VegCharlotte Awards.
I compiled a list of approximately 20 categories, and asked local vegetarians and vegans to vote.
The voters were mostly followers of the VegCharlotte Blog, followers of the VegCharlotte Facebook page, or members of VegCharlotte Meetup. Voters were welcome to invite any veg friends of theirs to vote, too.
All voters were vegetarian; the majority were vegan.
Voters could vote by emailing me, messaging me on Facebook, or listing their votes in the “Comments” section of my blog.
Voters could vote up to three times in each category, but were not required to vote in all categories. A few voters suggested their own categories they wanted to include, such as Best Tofu Preparation and Best Juices.
As a result, some categories had many, many votes and others only a few.
I only chose a “winner” when there was a clear preponderance of votes.
In all cases I share voter’s nominations and comments.
Some of the responses were expected, but others were quite surprising!
Many of the restaurants and menu suggestions were new to me, and I’m looking forward to sampling these for myself throughout the year and posting photos and reviews.
My hope is that this will become a valuable resource for vegetarians and vegans in our community.
One last note: Most menu recommendations are vegan; a few are vegetarian. I try to provide as much information as possible, but I don’t have the resources to verify the ingredients for every single nomination. So please use your own good sense when dining out.