By Anya McCann
Davisites love our farmers market. Part of our identity is the chance to grab coffee, a pastry and wander through the long aisle of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains. One could argue that weekly ritual is a plant-based paradise. And it is a focal point of building community. COOL Cuisine grew out of this social need to bond over food in public venues.
COOL Cuisine gathers members of a number of groups in town promoting plant-based eating. From all walks of life and all ages, we have differing reasons for seeking more exciting ways to eat our veggies. Some advocate a sustainable low carbon diet that contributes to the reduction of GHGs, as with those from Cool Davis and Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice members. Others have been directed by their physician to reduce their intake of animal sourced products to improve or maintain their good health.
There is a younger crowd that enjoys potlucks and sharing information about new, creative products, called Vegans of Davis, most of whom adopted the diet out of compassion for all living things. In addition, there is a renewed vigor in P.E.A.C.E. of UC Davis (People for the Elimination of Animal Cruelty through Education). Still others see plant-focused diets as a strong solution to world hunger issues. There are also those for which this diet is a natural outgrowth of religious beliefs and practices.
COOL Cuisine launched 3rd Thurs meetups in 2016 to encourage local restaurants to improve and increase the quantity of plant-based options for diners in Davis. The meetups, which typically draw 25 guests, provide social networking and support with the purpose of making it economically sensible for restaurants to provide a welcome to those who do not eat animal products. The group requests that venues make it easier to find suitable items on menus by marking them. Members also request restaurants train their staff to have greater understanding about what food items are most suitable. For instance, vegan is not at all the same as “gluten free.”
Vegetarians and vegans make up about 8% of the population in California. The number of specialized restaurants throughout the state has increased dramatically in recent years, even in Sacramento, where tastes are very mainstream. Yet there are none in Davis. Plant-based foodies dine out with friends and colleagues who eat omnivorous diets and want to be assured there are decent choices more enticing than “green leaf salad, hold the cheese”.
Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 pm they will meet at Nami Sushi, 2880 5th Street, where the all-you-can-eat menu has a number of appetizers, rolls, and desserts. The chefs will also serve vegan nigiri which, perhaps, the group hopes, will be added to the restaurant’s menu permanently. Other restaurants visited included Chickpeas, KetMoRee, Preethi Indian Cuisine, and Ding How.
COOL Cuisine stewards are very excited about supporting restaurants that are already doing a good job and providing encouragement for those with room to improve. The group has excellent and creative cooks among them willing to offer time to brainstorm about how chefs can make simple adjustments to create new dishes – or create something unique that will draw in plant-based diners from other cities.
To get learn 3rd Thurs meetup locations or get more involved check out these sites:
www.facebook.com/COOLCuisineDavis (and chat group)