UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Blue Plate Epicurean

People decide to go meatless for many reasons. Some shift to a vegetarian lifestyle for health or environmental issues, others for spiritual or religious beliefs. I went meatless to tell you about the food options. Well here’s a little bit of background in the world of meatless consumers.

Vegetarianism has many different levels. Technically, a vegetarian would consume only a plant-based diet incorporating fruits, vegetables, and grains to complete their nutritional regime. There are options for those who cannot take the extreme plunge.

Pollo vegetarians are those who eat poultry, but avoid eating any other types of meat. Pesco pollo vegetarians eat fish and poultry, but never eat red meat. Psuedo vegetarians or semi-vegetarians are those who have cut back on the consumption of meat, but are still developing the eating habits of a vegetarian. Vegan (pronounced vee-gun) is the strictest amongst the groups, and this crew commits to eating no product or by-product of animals. If you want to be vegan, you have to give up Jell-o, because the ground-up horse hooves that are on the list of ingredients disqualifies it from the vegan food list.

Alternatives to meat are available and when prepared properly can eliminate the need or desire for animal protein. Grasshopper in Allston provides a completely meatless menu, “Where the animals live to tell it all.” The atmosphere is warm and comfortable with a sense of the feng-shui philosophy. The tables are presented with chopsticks wrapped in cloth napkins and the cutest little tea lamps. Iced water and hot tea are served to each guest.

The menu offers lots of veggies and noodles, as well as a great number of meat alternatives. Seitan, which is a low fat form of wheat gluten, is offered to replace chicken and beef. Tofu is prepared in all of the pork-style dishes and root vegetables are used to satisfy the seafood lovers.

When these alternatives are stir-fried or sautéed with fruits, vegetables, noodles, and served piping hot, your palate is surely going to be satisfied. I have to admit I have been skeptical for quite some time now. My friend Inga has been trying to convince me to give it a go for a couple of years, and had it not been for my friend Skye’s birthday request to eat at Grasshopper, I may have never made it there. I believe she quoted me after the first few bites as saying, “Mmmm” and “Oh my goodness, this is delicious.”

We ordered two dishes, one from the regular menu, #52, house vermicelli noodles with gluten and a salad. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this dish is harmoniously arranged like an artist’s palette. The diner chooses from lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, diced carrots, and tarot, two kinds of “pork,” and peanut dusted vermicelli noodle cakes, to wrap in steamed rice paper blankets.

The second entree was in secret code under the “No Name Delight.” You won’t see it on the menu, so ask for it by name. This battered wheat gluten was served in strips sautéed in a tangy sweet and sour sauce, and mixed with sesame seeds. It is then tossed over a bed of Vietnamese vegetables and served with brown rice and a salad.

We skipped dessert, because our food was so good, we nearly licked the plates clean. Two of us ate for $20 and were plenty full. Even if you are not interested in changing your eating habits, I do recommend you explore the world of vegetarians. Take it from the skeptic, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.


Grasshopper * 1 North Beacon Street * Allston, MA 02134 * 617-254-8883