Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegas, Not to my Taste

I'm not going to couch this softly; I don't like Las Vegas. It is essentially the antithesis of everything I stand for and am. I have always thought it was the most artificial and crass city that I have visited. And the more I visit, the more I find that opinion reinforced.

I lived and worked in Orlando for years and some would argue that it is more fake and tacky than Las Vegas. But for me, Vegas is worse because while Disney's artifice has romantic fantasy at it's core, Las Vegas is all about emphasizing negative tendencies.

The city has this glittery overlay to it but just below the glitz it's garbage to the core. I hate the greed, the misogyny and the way people act when they are there... as if this is the place to give into, or even force themselves into, falling prey to their baser instincts. I hate the noise, the gambling and the smoking.

For me, the decadence becomes cloying fast. I am generally a hopeful, joyful vegan but the level of exploitation of animals, living and killed, here is appalling to me. The hotels on the strip are filled with restaurants but I was hard-pressed to find a decent non-animal-based meal. In a town dedicated to tourism you would think you could at lest find one vegetarian friendly restaurant or even a single option on the menu. Heck, I live in the South and typically have no trouble eating out, but it was really difficult here.

There were not even a lot of variety in cuisines. I was surprised in this lack of variety. Most restaurants were "American" or buffets or steakhouses followed by Asian and sushi options. Americanized Italian was a far distant third with very few Mexican or other options.

I pretty much had plain bagel with jam for breakfast and two nights in a row I ate the exact same Chinese stir-fried veggies and white rice. On the third night, wanting a different choice I decided to subject myself to Rainforest Cafe thinking a chain restaurant would cater to a wide variety of dietary needs and that I could probably get a harmless veggie burger there. But sadly their veggie burger contained eggs. In the end I had them make me a salad with the meat and cheese removed and paired that up with a plate of fries. I guess you don't get a lot of veggies in the rainforest... but you do get ribs, shrimp and lots of cheese pizzas and pasta.

You would think an adventurous town like Las Vegas would be a great place for people to try and experience new cuisines and options, but in the end it does nothing but try and appeal to the lowest common denominator. It mirrors back and emphasizes the worst depravities of our excessive lifestyles.

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