Philly adds another vegan restaurant to its tally

As of mid-April 2017, The Tasty is an all-vegan restaurant, a change from its initial offerings.

When The Tasty opened in May 2016, the South Philly diner specializing in vegan food cheered Philly vegans, but many were disappointed that it was not — despite some nomenclature indicating otherwise — a vegan restaurant.

All of The Tasty's menu items were indeed vegan, but cow's milk was offered for coffees. 

On Monday, the diner's Facebook page announced that the dairy option has now been eliminated, all the coffee milks are vegan — and, boom, Philly has another vegan restaurant!

Yes, it might seem like a tiny, hairpsplitting detail to have one non-vegan item in a vegetarian venue, but for vegans it can be a quantum difference: A space that's "vegan," in terms of its offerings, is kind of a peaceful island within a noisily, violently nonvegan consumer culture. Sure, we enjoy going to regular places and trying/supporting their new vegan items, but we're in a different kind of space and there's always some residual wariness — we can't enjoy 100%. Now, at The Tasty, we can.

In a quick phone chat, Ben Pierce, a co-owner with Sofia Baltopoulos and Kate Hiltz, said the low-key removal had been effected over the course of the past couple weeks, as they had hit critical mass of "regulars" who had been attached to dairy in their coffee who had now tried, and come to enjoy, alternates such as oat milk. (In addition to oat, The Tasty offers soy, almond, coconut, and macadamia milks.) "Yeah, they all pretty much converted after a while," he mused.

This was part of the "baby steps" strategy on which The Tasty embarked when it re-opened the 1401 S. 12th Street space within a community of old-school mainstream coffee-drinkers: Get them in the door, excite, educate, and change gradually.

I was among the skeptical hearing about this in early 2016, and I still don't endorse the serving of cow's milk (more properly calves' milk, of course), but The Tasty is kind of like a new vegan: Whatever got them to this point, this is where they are now. All of us not born vegan have done nonvegan things — the point is what we're doing now and what we're going to do. 

So as of this week I'd like to welcome The Tasty to Philly's legendary lineup of all-vegan eateries — by my count we now have 22 within city limits — and to encourage all the vegans who said, "I won't set foot in there as long as they're serving dairy" to go ahead and set your feet in there, bring your mouth along and treat it to something Tasty!

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