What with all the Halloween hoopla—seriously, when did this holiday turn into the second coming of Christmas?—it’s easy to see how Chicago Vegan Week might have slipped your mind. Don’t worry, there’s still time to celebrate.
On October 30 (aka, Halloween Eve), Drew’s Eatery, 2207 W. Montrose, is going all-vegan, all day.
“I don’t know what to expect, I’m a little nervous,” confessed Drew Baker, owner of the eatery.
When Drew’s opened in March 2008, Baker estimates that 90 percent of his offerings contained meat and/or dairy products. To accommodate customer requests, that menu has since evolved to the point where Drew’s is now the rare dining spot where carnivores, vegetarians and vegans can all find multiple options to suit their particular tastes.
In going all-vegan, Drew’s will feature its regular vegan items, such as the popular Not Dog and Sloppy Vegan sandwich, along with additional flavors of soy ice cream and an expanded selection of vegan baked goods from Sweet Dreams Organic Bakery and Café. “I didn’t want to go off-menu too much and have people coming in weeks from now wanting to order something we don’t have,” Baker noted. He did concoct one special for the day: Mac ‘n’ Teese (a soy variation on mac ‘n’ cheese).
While Drew’s participation in Vegan Week shouldn’t be interpreted as the eatery promoting one style of eating over another, Baker does hope to spark some conversation. “I’ve had moms say that they plan to bring their kids in to educate them about what being vegan is.”
The biggest misperception he’d like to clarify: that a meat substitute will taste like meat. It won’t. A faux Italian sausage might have similar seasonings compared with the real thing, “but it’s not going to taste like a piece of pork,” he said.
Baker himself has learned a good deal about vegan food in the past two-and-a-half years. He experimented with a number of products and recipes and received a lot of advice from customers before arriving at his current vegan line-up. Admittedly not a fan of tofu, he now uses seitan in a number of dishes. “I didn’t even know what seitan was.”
Though he stands by the tastiness of his vegan offerings, Baker hasn’t become a vegan himself. “But I will be on Saturday,” he said.