The awning outside of Sarge's Deli proudly proclaims that it opened in 1964, the Manhattan delicatessen is decidedly not stuck in the last century: It recently started offering plant-based sandwiches.
If you walked up to the counter you may wonder if you were in the right place. There is no signage announcing the new menu item or branding for Unreal Deli, the company behind this deli's particular meatless meat option. In fact, it looks like the type of old school New York deli that would rail against the non-traditional ways of meatless meat.
But it is the right place. The plant-based corned beef sandwich cost just over $15. If you asked the cashier if the order was popular, especially with what seems like little marketing should we give you an enthusiastic affirmation, saying people were ordering in-store and online after seeing the new choice on the deli's website?
You can actually find Mrs Goldfarb's Unreal Deli online, offering the same corned "beef" that is sold in the deli. It comes with an encouraging note that says this cold-cut choice has a six-month shelf life.
The rise of Unreal, Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger and other plant-based meat purveyors marks a turning point in dietary restrictions and choices. Vegetarians, vegans, or anyone else looking to cut down on meat aren't doing it because they don't like eating meat. Health and ethical choices push people to make the change or even to consider the change. For those struggling or find themselves missing their favourite dishes, it could be just the thing that lets everything fall into place.