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I am probably the farthest thing in the world from a vegan. I grew up with three older brothers who all developed talents for smoking and barbecuing various cuts of meat. When I thought of vegan food I thought of hummus, vegetables and tofu. The only time I had ever really tried to eat vegan was at my cousin’s vegan wedding in 2018, and even then I loaded up my plate with bland pasta because everything else on the menu scared me. 

However, I went to Detroit Filling Station because my best friend loves vegan food and I was feeling nice that day. I ordered a Reuben tempeh sandwich because I like sauerkraut and figured I could pick off the tempeh if it was as gross as I imagined it in my head. I unwrapped the sandwich and braced myself for the worst. 

To my surprise, I enjoyed it. The tempeh was nutty and had a texture similar to chicken, and the sauerkraut perfectly balanced it. I took another bite to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Same reaction. 

It wasn’t quite the Reuben sandwich you’d get from Zingerman’s, but in a way, it was better, with bolder and more unique flavors. It doesn’t try to replicate meat, but with perfect seasoning and cooking technique, it unapologetically becomes its own in a way that typical corned beef or chicken never could. 

Detroit Filling Station, with its brick wall and natural light, has unexpectedly become one of my go-to restaurants, proving that even the biggest meat-eaters can enjoy vegan food. 

Daily Staff Reporter George Weykamp can be reached at gweykamp@umich.edu.