HappyCow friends at QuarryGirl.com recently launched an unprecedented investigation into the common ingredients used at a string of vegan restaurants in the Greater Los Angeles area. The results are surprising, alarming, and worth taking a look.
QuarryGirl secretly tested the ingredients from 17 so-called “vegan” restaurants to see if they contained traces of egg, casein (a milk derivative), and/or shellfish. Of 17 places they checked, only 10 passed free and clear. Seven failed. Among these were ones that I, a 20+ year vegan, routinely visit – so you can imagine the surprise and frustration I felt upon hearing about the results!
While these restaurants were likely buyers of mis-labeled mock meat products and NOT out to deceive their patrons intentionally, patrons and vegans who’ve heard about this investigation are now expressing anger at the findings. It’s my personal belief that the majority, if not all, the restaurants that failed were using products that they thought were vegan (according to manufacturer’s labels) and were themselves deceived by the manufacturer’s labeling.
The good news is that starting July 1, new stricter laws are going into effect regarding vegetarian products labeling in Taiwan, the country origin of most mock meats / faux meats / veggies meats used in these vegan restaurants. (link)
Of the 1000’s of restaurants listed on HappyCow.net, it now seems to me that likely at least some of the vegan offerings would fail strict contamination tests, especially from the places offering “mock meats” and “vegan’ cheese.” People have different reasons for avoiding egg, casein, and shellfish, with the most alarming being those who suffer extreme allergies, so improving this situation is important and exigent.
If you haven’t already done so, read QuarryGirl’s article:
…and then, if this concerns you, take action locally. We are working on a list of reputable manufacturers of mock meats, soy products, and vegan cheese for distribution, and I suggest we share this with restaurants in our neighborhood. I will post it as soon as it’s ready.
– Eric, aka Webmaster, HappyCow.net