Chatham Chatlist food fight?

Pittsboro, NC – The Chatham Chatlist is an online community of over 6,200 members. It is a public forum where members discuss a variety of Chathamcentric issues. A daily digest of member posts comes out every Monday through Saturday.

(photo by senivpetro on Freepik)

The discussion topics and member interactions can get interesting at times. Yesterday, one long-term member knows as “Nabooko” posted an email about the slim pickings when it comes to vegetarian options in Chatham County.

Nabooko: The joy of eating out. . The vegetarian selection

It is always a joy to eat out . . Or is it? For vegetarians or vegans it can be a challenge.

Why should their wants and needs be any different than the meat and fowl eaters who want their fare prepared just so?

Generally, on the local scene, vegans and vegetarians either make do with the offerings or do without. And it is slim pickings in this neck of the woods.

Even the free dinners offered by several charity minded groups fall short of offering food equal to the meat eater’s fare. I just learned that the Chuck wagon free offerings have nothing for vegetarians or vegans. It is all chicken. Prepared different ways each week. Nothing for vegetarians or vegans. Others offering these meals, struggle to come up with equal fare for non meat eaters.

Serving noodles or mushy Vegetables sprinkled with some exotic sounding dry herb and called by a French or foreign name, doesn’t make it taste better or satisfy. A little of this chef-grinnery goes a long way.


This morning a fellow Chatham Chatlist member responded with his take about the food scene in Chatham County and presented Mr. Nabooko with a food challenge.

Nabonkers Nabooko

The revered Nabooko is embarrassingly off-target in his judgment of local dining for vegetarians and vegans. He laments a lack of their peculiar options, in restaurants as well as free-meal programs.

He asks: “Why should the wants and needs (of those who eat out) be any different than the meat and fowl eaters who want their fare prepared just so?”

Here’s why: Because there’s so darn few of you. Nationwide, only 5 percent of adults are vegetarians. In the South, it’s just 4 percent; among people 55 or older, it’s a scant 2 percent.

If I own a restaurant (I did), I’m going to cater to what almost all my clients want. I’m in business to make money, and there is always some veggie option, if only salads.

If diners want their steak medium-rare, or ask to hold the onions, it’s a reasonable request that’s easy to accommodate. Nabooko implies: If this menu has 20 choices for carnivores, why do I have so few vegetarian dishes? Well, only ONE is what you deserve: 5 percent of 20 equals 1 choice.

What’s more, Nabonkers has the gall to gash charity groups who provide free community meals, because they “fall short of offering food equal to the meat eater’s fare.”

Community Lunch at St. Barts never falls short of vegetarian meals, and Kiwanis Community Dinner always has at least one non-meat option that is hardly “slim pickings” (as he alleges). As for Chatham Chuckwagon, chicken is by far its main donated staple. They use what they are given. After all, meals may be free to diners and recipients, but they are not free to provide. In his infinite wisdom, Nabooko should know, “Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

I invite the Chatlist’s prolific poster to donate pounds of mushrooms, tofu, eggs, cheese, seafood, and other non-meat items weekly to the Chuckwagon. Then they might expand to meet his particular needs.

Of course, he can always dine at one the Triangle’s many eateries that specialize in vegetarian and/or vegan options. But that wouldn’t give him the joy of complaining and criticizing.

Jay Niver

You can sign up for the free Chatham Chatlist email listserv HERE.