Menu Gallery 1914-1918

Here is a gallery of menus from 1914-1918, collected from the New York Public Library "What's on the Menu" archive thanks to Miss Buttolph's extensive collection. Right-click on a menu and select "Open image in new tab" to see an enlarged version of that menu.


Looking through these menus, it is noticeable that there are few explicitly vegetarian dishes offered at these selected restaurants; however, most serve salads and plain, single vegetable options that can satisfy a vegetarian, though they are rather simple. The most common of these plain options are:


-String beans
-Mashed turnips
-Broiled or fried eggplant
-Asparagus with hollandaise sauce
-Potatoes (baked, fried, mashed, au gratin, etc.)


Some menus, such as those from the Mendel and Hotel Astor, do list "Vegetarian Dinner" or "Vegetarian Grill" under their entrees, but the items in this meal are not specified. Similarly, the "Meatless Luncheon" from Mary Elizabeth's also does not specify the ingredients of the meal, but does maintain the language of the time by sounding similar to the "Meatless Tuesdays" advocated by food administrations during the war.


The entree list from the Hotel Marlborough features a "Vegetarian dinner, fried filet of sole" on its menu from 1917, which is interesting to note because citizens were encouraged to eat fish and vegetables during the war, saving meat for the troops abroad.


The most diverse (and delectable) vegetarian option in these menus is from the Pennsylvania Railroad, labeled "combination vegetables":

-Mashed turnips and potatoes, with peas
-String bean salad, sauerkraut, and Parisienne potatoes

In comparison, this differs greatly from today, where vegetarian and dietary-restricted meal options are quite abundant and have variety. Additionally, most entrees today are served with vegetables on the side and it is less common to order a certain type of vegetable a la carte. Though vegetarianism did not have a concrete definition back then, it is still evident that the war had a subtle impact on the practice of vegetarianism, and restaurants adopted this flexibly, such as having meatless meals and vegetarian dinners, even if they were accompanied with seafood.