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 Post subject: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:59 pm 
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I know people have done this. there's a restaurant in my neighborhood that I really want to have at least one vegan option at brunch and dinner. it's a comfort food place and they have said they're working on getting vegan options, but nothing has happened.

How have you approached places and helped them to add vegan stuff? I guess I should just go in and talk to the owners and see what they say. Pancakes would be so easy! Or biscuits and gravy!

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:05 pm 
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Maybe give them some recipes? Suggestions sounds like a great idea, especially things that would appeal to everybody and/or things made from ingredients they already use, and wouldn't cost them if not many people ordered.

It drove me crazy that the beg cafe in my college town only had vegan pancakes on rare occasions. It's such a no brainer to make delicious vegan pancakes that everybody would love.

MMmm. Pancakes.

My big love would be a local place that had a basic, no frills tofu scramble and toast with vegan margarine/jelly.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:13 pm 
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My one try at this was a big fat flop, resulting in me basically being told that if I wanted to bring in my own vegan cheese for my pizza, they would put it on, but they wouldn't have a bag of Daiya in the freezer. I'm turned off by having to pay for my own cheese to bring in and still pay full price for the pizza that includes the dairy cheese cost. And if I get a cheeseless pizza there, they give me the same amount of veggies that would be on the pizza with cheese, resulting in there being nothing but sauce and a few mushrooms. If I ask for extra mushrooms, I get charged extra. What the what?

So I give up. LOL


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:14 pm 
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So....this goes against all my feelings of negativity for the site, but maybe write a yelp review that's positive but calls for a need for vegan options? Like..."I'd love to see their take on a vegan version of x".

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:33 pm 
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Anecdotal evidence suggests that being a good customer of a place and asking for vegan food helps. If you just walk in off the street and ask for it that won't have as much weight as if there are regular customers asking for vegan food.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:13 pm 
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I am just super duper polite and try to become BFFs with the chef. I shower them with compliments and then I reveal that it's too bad because I've heard the food here is amazing but I sadly can't eat much/any of it. If they're not crassholes, this usually tugs at their heartstrings and they become inspired to please me, and when they do I go often and tell all of my friends how great they are. I guess it starts with emotional manipulation, but it ends in both sides happy!

At one restaurant I used to frequent often mostly just because it was my only option I used to always modify the veggie sandwich by removing the cheese and mayo, adding spicy mustard and avocado, and because we were regulars the chef eventually realized that I must be vegan, and he asked me for input on vegan menu items! That was really awesome and I had so much fun with it. He created a wild mushroom ceviche dish from my suggestions and credits me on the menu.

Many chefs have no idea about stuff like vegenaise and egg replacer and tofu that doesn't suck, so if you are helpful and polite without being pushy, you can often convince them that it won't be an utter failure or a bad move for their reputation.

I feel like I sound like a little crasshole in the first part of this reply but I am seriously just trying to dispel the myths chefs have that vegans are whiny little jerks and not worth considering. Niceness works!

ETA: For fancier places that will prepare a special vegan option off the menu, I rave and rave and rave about it and sometimes (well, once) it ends up as an option on the menu.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:53 pm 
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It also helps if you can figure out what distributor a company uses so you can suggest products they can easily get, if you're suggesting vegan subs like margarine or cheese. But pancakes don't really require anything like that.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:29 pm 
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Charrrrming smiles?

and, maybe starting from a place that is located next/close to one that does have vegan options?

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Last edited by Emilie on Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:41 pm 
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yeah i harassed a local place on their fb feed until they did so.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:43 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that being a good customer of a place and asking for vegan food helps. If you just walk in off the street and ask for it that won't have as much weight as if there are regular customers asking for vegan food.


We were regulars of the pizza place I mentioned earlier for a few years before we became vegan. We even went several times for cheeseless pizza even though it was often disappointingly skimpy on toppings. The owner knew us when we walked in.

Now, we haven't been back in 6 months. Why go get a skimpily topped pizza where I have to pay twice for my "cheese" when I can go to a different place and they have vegan cheese on the topping line?


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:50 pm 
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Makes sense, vantine. I wish there was anything vegan I could eat at this place now! My plan was more like goingin and asking if they want vegan items and letting them know i'd be interested in helping rather than just demanding stuff. At least we donated to their toy drive even though we can't eat there.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:52 pm 
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And thanks everyone else! I may just go over there one day with muffins to try to get the ball rolling.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:02 pm 
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As it is I am trying to work up the nerve to call some local places to see if some of the items on their menus are already vegan but that part scares the crepe out of me. I think I would rather jump into a 6 foot hole than ask them to add something vegan to their menu because I am a big scaredy dog.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:29 pm 
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daisychain wrote:
As it is I am trying to work up the nerve to call some local places to see if some of the items on their menus are already vegan but that part scares the crepe out of me. I think I would rather jump into a 6 foot hole than ask them to add something vegan to their menu because I am a big scaredy dog.

Just be really courteous! Seriously, I hate asking too, and there have been a couple of occasions where my dining companions have insisted on asking for me when I feel like being quiet and just getting the green salad that I don't want, but I've found that nearly all the time if you are really nice about it you'll get a good, or at least honest, response. Calling ahead is great too, and asking them to note it in the reservation if it's a situation where you don't want to be the subject of an almost inevitable conversation about vegans. My Canadian "sorry, sorry, sorry, but please?" usually creates some good responses. I have received some pretty pretentious responses with ridiculous options (you can have the micro-greens sans dressing, translation: don't come to my restaurant, vegan), but that has only been from hipster palio-type places.

Tonight I'm going for the third time to a fancier restaurant in my parent's town that has twice made me an amazing off-the-menu meal, and the chef even contacted me (through my friend who works there) about how excited he was for this creation and if I like it, he'll put it on the regular menu. That's pretty neat for cattle feedlot central Alberta.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:39 pm 
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karichelle wrote:
Vantine wrote:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that being a good customer of a place and asking for vegan food helps. If you just walk in off the street and ask for it that won't have as much weight as if there are regular customers asking for vegan food.


We were regulars of the pizza place I mentioned earlier for a few years before we became vegan. We even went several times for cheeseless pizza even though it was often disappointingly skimpy on toppings. The owner knew us when we walked in.

Now, we haven't been back in 6 months. Why go get a skimpily topped pizza where I have to pay twice for my "cheese" when I can go to a different place and they have vegan cheese on the topping line?

Some people are, unfortunately, jerks!

I do know a handful of people who were asked by chefs/owners about vegan food ideas after visiting a place and asking for accommodations.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:44 pm 
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vijita wrote:
daisychain wrote:
As it is I am trying to work up the nerve to call some local places to see if some of the items on their menus are already vegan but that part scares the crepe out of me. I think I would rather jump into a 6 foot hole than ask them to add something vegan to their menu because I am a big scaredy dog.

Just be really courteous! Seriously, I hate asking too, and there have been a couple of occasions where my dining companions have insisted on asking for me when I feel like being quiet and just getting the green salad that I don't want, but I've found that nearly all the time if you are really nice about it you'll get a good, or at least honest, response. Calling ahead is great too, and asking them to note it in the reservation if it's a situation where you don't want to be the subject of an almost inevitable conversation about vegans. My Canadian "sorry, sorry, sorry, but please?" usually creates some good responses. I have received some pretty pretentious responses with ridiculous options (you can have the micro-greens sans dressing, translation: don't come to my restaurant, vegan), but that has only been from hipster palio-type places.

Tonight I'm going for the third time to a fancier restaurant in my parent's town that has twice made me an amazing off-the-menu meal, and the chef even contacted me (through my friend who works there) about how excited he was for this creation and if I like it, he'll put it on the regular menu. That's pretty neat for cattle feedlot central Alberta.

Oooh I can't wait to hear about it!

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:11 pm 
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I would definitely give some recipe suggestions. They may not know how to make anything vegan and it's best to make sure the food is good so people will want to buy it. An extra bonus if it is something easy that they wouldn't have to make a special order for. That can come later when you get your vegan cookie and cupcake sampler platter.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:23 am 
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vijita wrote:
daisychain wrote:
As it is I am trying to work up the nerve to call some local places to see if some of the items on their menus are already vegan but that part scares the crepe out of me. I think I would rather jump into a 6 foot hole than ask them to add something vegan to their menu because I am a big scaredy dog.

Just be really courteous! Seriously, I hate asking too, and there have been a couple of occasions where my dining companions have insisted on asking for me when I feel like being quiet and just getting the green salad that I don't want, but I've found that nearly all the time if you are really nice about it you'll get a good, or at least honest, response. Calling ahead is great too, and asking them to note it in the reservation if it's a situation where you don't want to be the subject of an almost inevitable conversation about vegans. My Canadian "sorry, sorry, sorry, but please?" usually creates some good responses. I have received some pretty pretentious responses with ridiculous options (you can have the micro-greens sans dressing, translation: don't come to my restaurant, vegan), but that has only been from hipster palio-type places.



Thanks! I think with me is just that I can be painfully shy around strangers and at the best of times I hate asking for anything. I need to work on my confidence big time. I would love to get a list of vegan friendly places together for my city because there isn't anything on the net already.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:15 pm 
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The two places I know of that have added significant vegan items to their menus were asked by the local vegan groups, not just random individuals, and were in areas with significant vegan populations and some other vegan attraction (in one case, a farm sanctuary, in the other, a vegan bakery). They both now have extensive vegan menus.

We've asked our local places, which we frequent almost every week and where they know us by name, and asked very nicely, and gotten bupkis.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:48 pm 
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j-dub wrote:
Oooh I can't wait to hear about it!

Not to totally hijack, but it was a bit of a flop. Good intentions, and a MASSIVE portion, but it was basically just veggies and rice swimming in an oily tomato sauce. Sometimes you win, sometimes you fail.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:01 pm 
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daisychain wrote:
vijita wrote:
daisychain wrote:
As it is I am trying to work up the nerve to call some local places to see if some of the items on their menus are already vegan but that part scares the crepe out of me. I think I would rather jump into a 6 foot hole than ask them to add something vegan to their menu because I am a big scaredy dog.

Just be really courteous! Seriously, I hate asking too, and there have been a couple of occasions where my dining companions have insisted on asking for me when I feel like being quiet and just getting the green salad that I don't want, but I've found that nearly all the time if you are really nice about it you'll get a good, or at least honest, response. Calling ahead is great too, and asking them to note it in the reservation if it's a situation where you don't want to be the subject of an almost inevitable conversation about vegans. My Canadian "sorry, sorry, sorry, but please?" usually creates some good responses. I have received some pretty pretentious responses with ridiculous options (you can have the micro-greens sans dressing, translation: don't come to my restaurant, vegan), but that has only been from hipster palio-type places.



Thanks! I think with me is just that I can be painfully shy around strangers and at the best of times I hate asking for anything. I need to work on my confidence big time. I would love to get a list of vegan friendly places together for my city because there isn't anything on the net already.


I also think the threshold for stuff like this might be lower in the US/Canada where 1) awareness of veganism has a bit of a jump on most of Europe, and 2) the service industry is more customer-service oriented in North America.

I find it a lot harder to ask about the veganness of menu items when I'm in Amsterdam than when I'm in Toronto. I've just started doing it in a few places (an Indian restaurant and a Chinese take-away), but it's definitely more intimidating over here, in my experience. Even asking for substitutions over here is more difficult, I find, because it's just not done, whereas it's not that uncommon on the other side of the Atlantic. Add shyness/introversion into the mix, and I feel you, daisychain.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:31 pm 
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Same. The idea of asking vegan stuff almost always makes me feel like a spoiled diva or something :|

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:54 pm 
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vijita wrote:
j-dub wrote:
Oooh I can't wait to hear about it!

Not to totally hijack, but it was a bit of a flop. Good intentions, and a MASSIVE portion, but it was basically just veggies and rice swimming in an oily tomato sauce. Sometimes you win, sometimes you fail.

That sucks! It's so disappointing to get a meal far worse than what you would have made yourself.

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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:40 pm 
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Really all you can do is ask and see how willing they are to try.

If you do ask and they do make some good vegan food is make sure you eat there as often as you can and tell every vegan you know to stop by and get some. Take all your friends there regardless of what they eat and make a lot of noise about how good the vegan food is.

The restaurant needs to make money or at least bring in new customers if they are going to put the effort into putting vegan items on the menu.

As a cook I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it when somebody calls ahead for special menu requests. Giving me a few days heads up to think of what I am expected to make is ever so helpful. Unfortunately some folks that I work with take the message but never pass it on. So if you can talk to somebody in the kitchen you have a slightly better chance of success.


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 Post subject: Re: getting restaurants to add vegan stuff to their menu
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:18 pm 
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Yes! Bring recipes. Something like tofu scramble would be really easy for a place like that. Colleen Patrick Goudreau talked about getting vegan food introduced at a place near her. She worked with them on the menu and provided them with some of her recipes.

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