Onigirazu a popular “sushi-sandwich” restaurant in Prague’s Letná district is a tiny take-away shop that packs larger-than-life flavors between layers of seaweed and rice. As of late last year, however, the restaurant’s vegan take on this traditional Japanese street food will be served minus one less ingredient: avocado.
Writing on his Instagram page autumn 2019, owner Radek Novotný announced that he would stop using avocados in his vegan sushi sandwiches.
“Onigirazu was founded on a basic principle of lowering environmental impact of gastronomy and at that moment we didn’t yet fully realize the catastrophical side effects of hype-driven agriculture on both the environment and society,” adding that, “We’re not categorically against using avocados but it is hard to throttle the consumption when the demand seems to be irrational.”
Novotný says in this regard they try to find best the suppliers and purchase ingredients only when they know where it came from and how it was made.
“Of course this is not possible in all cases, but hopefully rising demand for ethically produced goods will make [avocados] more available and economical in the future.
While Novotný told Seznam reporter and gastro-columnist Hana Michopulu that the restaurant’s fan-base wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the news, they have stuck to their decision and hope to open a second branch in Karlín where it will continue to serve its bestselling tempeh-colesaw onigirazu sans the beloved green fruit. Mango is off the menu as well.
The obsession with avocado over the past ten years, bolstered by the fervent hash-tagging of “avo” and “avotoast” on social media has led to a huge, and some would say unsustainable, jump in world avocado production. Environmentalists say that avocado farming is causing deforestation, destroying ecosystems, funding drug cartels, and contributing to climate change.
The Netflix series “Rotten” recently devoted an episode to the avocado wars, suggesting that avocado, like coffee, should be labelled as fair trade.
The popularity of avocados in the Czech Republic shows no sign of slowing down; in Prague in October 2019, Avocado Gang became the first avocado restaurant in the Czech capital. This year a new Avocado Bistro opened in Nusle.
According to the Seznam article, other Prague businesses are paying attention to the issue of avocado sustainability including Café Osada, a coffeeshop in Holešovice, which recently made the commitment to go avocado free. Avocado Gang told local media it has addressed the idea of waste by cultivating avocado pits and giving them to customers with instructions on how to grow the plant at home.