Are vegetarian standards different in New Mexico? Larry Gutierrez of Little Anita's thinks so

little_anitas_green_chile.jpg
Beef broth does not a vegetarian chile make.
Yesterday we finally got to chat with Larry Gutierrez, the president of Albuquerque-based Little Anita's, and he seemed confused as to what, exactly, constitutes vegetarian cuisine.

Earlier this week, we reported that Little Anita's -- which veggies had long thought served vegetarian green and red chile at its five locations in the metro area -- had been using meat products in both of those chiles all along. Gutierrez told us he didn't realize that ingredients such as chicken and beef stock disqualify a dish from being vegetarian; he'd assumed that not containing actual meat was good enough.

He said he was basing his understanding of what a vegetarian is on a definition in an unnamed dictionary. According to dictionary.com:

veg·e·tar·i·an -noun 1. a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.

This is a fairly easy-to-understand definition -- and it clearly does not allow for meat-based stocks in vegetarian cuisine. Cheese and eggs are a different matter; as we pointed out to Gutierrez, the animals are not harmed in their production -- but you don't get beef stock from a live cow.

We directed Gutierrez to peta.org, which hosts a wealth of information on vegetarianism, veganism and how to transition to vegetarian and vegan diets -- because a dictionary, however current, is generally not the best place to get detailed information on a dietary lifestyle.

After discussing with Gutierrez the various levels of vegetarian eating (including lacto-ovo and vegan lifestyles), he said that that vegetarians in New Mexico aren't as stringent about their dietary restrictions as Colorado vegetarians, and that New Mexico vegetarians don't mind a little chicken flavoring or beef broth in their entrees every once in a while. We suspect most vegetarians in New Mexico would disagree.

(On a personal note, I've been vegetarian, on and off, since I was fifteen years old, for a total of about ten years in the veggie lifestyle. I've been a vegetarian during travels to several continents and countries, and while living in the Midwest, arguably the most meat-centric region in the United States. All of these places held the same standard for vegetarianism: No dead-animal products. Period.)

Gutierrez promised that all Little Anita's outposts will be carrying vegetarian chile (for real, this time) and said that he'd look into the items on the vegetarian menu that Little Anita's will soon introduce, to ensure that none of them contain meat-based products.

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19 comments
Ktlots
Ktlots

I think this is horrible. . .maybe a law suit is the only way to get these ignorant restaurant owners to care more about its consumers than about being deceptive to make an extra dollar. I have a meat allergy. . .its not a joke, its very serious.

KillaGram
KillaGram

Imagine how pissed I was to find out they were using vegetable stock to flavor the "beef" burritos. I almost wrote to complain, but felt too much like a spoiled American douche whining about my first-world problem with third-world cuisine.

Kevin
Kevin

Thanks Westword for following up on this. It's disappionting to find out I've been unknowingly digesting animals for the last six years.

If you speak with Larry again, can you please ask him if they add lard to their beans and tortiallas or put beef/chicken stock in the rice? I've been to other mexican places that do that.

Thanks again!

Hurrydatedenver
Hurrydatedenver

Please read GoVegan's comment below. They are correct. Animals in the dairy industry are expoited beyond words. They live in confined hell. They are hooked up to painful machines, over-milked, and their babies are ripped from them to become veal calves. Chickens live in utter misery. Five are shoved together in a small wire cage and stacked on top of each other in warehouses called factory farms. This is no way to treat our fellow earthlings. Please, do the research yourself and choose to live a cruelty-free lifestyle that not only benefits these little guys, but also your health and our world. www.meetyourmeat.com and dairy sucks. Got puss?

GOVEGAN
GOVEGAN

"Cheese and eggs are a different matter; as we pointed out to Gutierrez, the animals are not harmed in their production"

Is a false statement.

Dairy cows are repeatedly raped, bearing calves (which are taken from them moments after they're born) so that they continue to produce milk. What happens when a new calf is born? The boys become veal and the girls become dairy cows until they become useless, then they become meat. Not to mention the fact that their utters are attached to machines which pump the milk out of them, cutting into them, making them bleed into the milk you drink.

And eggs? The boy chicks are useless, and are literally thrown in the trash. The girls beaks are all severed off at birth. And they are cramped in cages, often next to other hens which are diseased and dying.

"Oh I buy organic" Same practices, different feed."I buy cage free" They still never see the light of day, and they're still cramped, living next to dead or dying friends.

Thank you for this article, Amber, and bravo on the success with Little Anita's! People love to turn a blind eye, whether it be broth or dairy/eggs.

Good work.

Amber Taufen
Amber Taufen

Thanks for your comments -- for what it's worth, GoVegan, I fully understand the issues many people have with eggs/dairy production (and have been examining the vegan lifestyle myself).

We included that sentence in order to highlight the disconnect between viewpoints. I'm not claiming that dairy and eggs are 100 percent cruelty-free ... but a reasonable carnivore should be able to understand why cheese is considered vegetarian (by many people, not necessarily yourself) and why beef broth isn't.

vegangurl
vegangurl

I see your point, but I don't think you should say that animals are "not harmed" in the production of eggs/dairy, because that's completely not true.

Cadets27712
Cadets27712

All eggs and dairy do hurt animals.  Even on small farms, cows have to stay lactating and chickens have to keep ovulating.  Do the research.

Amber Taufen
Amber Taufen

Not to pick an argument -- I'm truly not trying to -- but my grandparents were farmers in the Midwest. It's safe to say that the eggs from chickens on their small, single-family farm (which were truly free-range) and the milk from their cows (same deal, and hand-milked) were, in fact, cruelty-free.

It *is* possible to have cruelty-free milk and eggs. It's just not profitable and thus doesn't happen in the commercial market. To make a blanket statement like "all eggs and dairy hurt animals" is just as untrue as to say "no eggs and dairy hurt animals." Theoretically, you could obtain dairy and eggs from animals without ever harming them -- and I think we're all in agreement that's simply not possible with beef stock/chicken stock/fish stock/what-have-you.

kim
kim

If one does not know the difference between "meat" and "vegetable," one should NOT own a restaurant.

TM
TM

I've met Larry and he's dumb as rocks - so I'm not surprised.

Jim
Jim

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then call for Peace on Earth.

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

_____________

Anyone can break this cycle of violence! Everyone has the power to choose compassion! Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: http://veganvideo.org & http://tryveg.com

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

SteveCruz
SteveCruz

Reminds me of the time a new recruit to Watercourse asked if they had bacon, the server cheerfully and discretely said, "No bacon, we're a vegetarian restaurant." He asked if they had turkey-bacon. She smiled and he charmingly hid his face as his ears went red.

CulinaryColorado
CulinaryColorado

This reminds me of a kerfuffle in Boulder some years back when it was discovered/revealed that Pasta Jay's in Boulder used anchovies in their marinara sauce.

guest
guest

I have a friend who has a chicken allergy and if she has chicken stock will have a severe allergic reaction. When we go out to eat, she will always ask if something has chicken stock in it, even if it is labeled vegetarian. I think most vegetarians would be shocked to know how often the waiter will come back and confirm that the item does have chicken stock. I think this happens much more than people realize.

Mantonat
Mantonat

I seem to recall Pasta Jay's in Boulder getting sued a few years back when a vegetarian found out that their marinara recipe included anchovies. Watch out, Little Anita's!

Boulder
Boulder

Pasta Jay's should be sued just for how wretched their food is. Feeding the football team does not mean your food is any good.

Mr meat
Mr meat

I think this is hilarious. Wow - this vegetarian stuff is really delicious, the best I've ever had. How do you make it so tasty?

We put meat in it.

Meat Eaters 1 Veggies 0

rain
rain

Ah, New Mexico. Where cows and chickens are vegetables.

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