Food Blog • Vegan Recipes • Animal Stories
When I choose a restaurant, it is one of a few things. It is 100% Vegan, it has Vegan options on the menu, or it has a lot of things on the menu that are accidentally Vegan. Unlike some Vegans, Ellie an I will eat at any restaurant that is trying. Our biggest reason for not even stepping in the door and where we draw the line is if they serve veal and/or lamb. We have to draw the line at killing babies. There are a few other reasons, for example foie gras, would be another reason not to eat there at all. To us, there is no excuse for it and we cannot be a part of it. We are always respectful, but always tell them why we won't be dining there.
There are always things to find on a menu. Most restaurants are starting to see that this Vegan thing isn't going away and are adopting plant-based options. Many of the restaurants are even starting to indicate Vegan items with a green leaf or something like it. It is important to look out for items that look Vegan, but are only Vegetarian. Look to see if there is a section on the menu dedicated to vegetable dishes as well. A simple scan of the menu will prepare you to have a conversation with the server about substitutions etc.
Understandably many servers will not know how to help you, but may be very willing to try. Don't be bashful here and also don't be bashful in asking if there is another server who does understand a plant-based diet. Servers are there for you, to serve you, so ask.
If you find the helpful server than go ahead and ask what items are good for you to order. If you don't, it will take a bit more effort. Just let them know what you can't eat and that it is very important that they understand. I like to ask some basic ingredient questions, for example, if we are at a Mexican restaurant, I would ask about what they put in their refried beans. Notice that I didn't just ask if they are Vegan or Vegetarian because many people don't know what that exactly means. It might mean to them that there is no meat or lard, but they might load it with sour cream or cheese, etc.
The other thing is that I always over tip for great service and sometimes I let them know that in advance; "Just so you know, I am a generous tipper for great service because I have some special requests."
Like I said earlier, it is important to be vocal, good or bad. I am very honest with the manager/owner because it will make it better for me next time and for the next Vegan who comes to that restaurant. I am also the guy calling over the manager to tell them how amazing a particular server or experience was and tell them how it was reflected in their tip. I report things like, the food was ( ), or the restaurant seemed ( ), or that I really appreciated how accommodating the server and kitchen were to my needs, or that they could be doing a better job with the choices on their menu. Because I am a Vegan Chef, I will also offer to speak with the restaurant owner and Chef about options for their menu or how to make the menu items they have Vegan. I have worked with about 50 different hotels and restaurants now and they are all very grateful.
Of course the most important thing to do is enjoy your meal and to be grateful that they worked hard to make it for you and that they might have learned something from you. If they did a good job for you, please consider sharing that with everyone!