Community: Forum: Suggestions for HappyCow

HappyCow Site Forum

In order to continue our discussion regarding Happy Cow listings of Veg-friendly restaurants (, the webmaster asked that we start a new discussion.

While adding a section that says old listings or Veg-friendly places that don't meet HC criterion is a good idea, it really is a bad idea. In doing so, you're going to get rivalry from restaurant owners or people partial to the restaurant, so why not let the reviewers do this part for you? Here what I would do: List the restaurant at the very end of all listings, I believe the non-100%-veggie places are in a light pink color now, so why not list those other ones in grey. Add a disclaimer within the description basically stating "Warning: This is not a 100% Vegetarian/Vegan place. Happy Cow does not support this restaurant as meat/dairy contamination is very likely" (or something close to that) – this solves the issue with preference and owner rivalry. If it's a bad restaurant, it will be clearly reflected in negative reviews by HC members. And when the owners read what the consumer has to say, maybe they'll clean up their act.

By keeping only the good restaurants on the site, I think, only does more harm than good. Like I had said previously, how will we know if a place is good/bad? If I find a place that has Vegan options, I want to find out about it and possibly try it. I understand that if a place is not listed on the site that it probably doesn't meet HC's standards, but how do we really know if that place meets HC's standards??? What if it's a new place? Or a place that no one has discovered (the webmaster can't be out everywhere scouting these restaurants out)? A lot of places don't advertize; and I know a lot shy away from the word Vegan, especially in the Midwest where the term is still unfamiliar to many. For example, there is a place called Sweet Cakes Bakery that carries about 50% Vegan baked goods, if you ask they will tell and assure you of the Vegan items …but they don't advertize things as being Vegan – same with Bleeding Heart Bakery (well they have the words Vegan posted in the store). I'm so lucky I found those places via word-of-mouth; otherwise, I wouldn't be able to enjoy these wonderful Vegan baked goods.

My overall point is that I don't thing being one-sided does any good. It also comes across as being elitist to others; I feel that this tends to shy others away from Veganism. I truly wonder how many people are scared off due to this; we're essentially being counterproductive when it comes to helping people become Vegetarian/Vegan.

And another point I'd like to make, what about new Vegetarians/Vegans or those thinking about going that route? I'd think the unknown would be scary to some; when I was just vegetarian (for almost all of my life) and had never even known about these special Veggie places…I was weary. I remember being 18 and weary about going to Chicago Diner (which is one of my favorite places now). For the newcomers, I think having those places (with some veggie options) listed helps to ease them into Vegetarianism; the familiarity of what they knew is there while they're free to explore the unknown, become more interested, and then begin to explore fully Vegetarian/Vegan places.

What does everyone else think?

Responses (62)

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/13/09 11:33:21

    Synth makes great points. The less information we make available to the veg. community, the less effective HC will be. If the goal is to reduce meat consumption, and save animals, then we need to encourage vegan-friendly restaurants to become even MORE friendly to our cause. Adding them to HC is an easy way of saying, "Hey, you're a part of the club, and we hope you'll clean up your act even more, especially after you see how much veg. business you'll generate."

    We need to lower the bar to entry. Doing so doesn't mean HC has to lower its standards, though:

    The easiest solution would be to create a special section of "non-vetted" restaurants that may or may not have cross-contamination problems or other issues. This is a non-judgmental term and won't anger restaurant owners, but it WILL alert veg*ns to be aware of potential problems.

    This will also create a desire for reviewers to check these places out, and hopefully, to chat up the owners to see if they're willing to make changes in the way they handle veg. food, and to see if they're willing to add MORE veg. food to their menu.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 11:36:14

    I am surprised so many vegheads would take that approach. I don't know why, I just would think as the main consumers of happycow reviews we would all agree we don't one another to get sick from tofu that drips with bacon grease. Who does that help in any regard?

    Synth, I would like to suggest a different view of yoru scenario depicted. Imagine the veg-curious turning to happycow to see what good veg food is to see if they can be veg or vegan. If a listing in her hometown is the same one she eats steak and such but has a bean taco or a veg burger (which is the criteria condekedar proposed in a very previous thread) on the menu, it would not be fair to that person. We need to consider what compassionate eating means, and if it is compassionate to eat a lot of animals but serve a tofu taco (tofu cooked on same grill as bacon, lettuce and tomato cut w a poultry knife on a poultry board) than I need to reconsider what it is I am doing here. Likely kidding myself. I'd like to think that I was attracted here for the lack of fast food joints that serve salad. Then nothing is really what it is. Slippery slope it truly is when you start unraveling the standards.

    I do not think you should list more unfriendly places. I think the City notes is the place for commentary. We all have friends that tell us about palces, don't review until you go there. As far as posting via FB, bad idea. If you know how to create a FB account, you can create an HC acct too.

    I really respect you Synth, but I really disagree with you in your post. There is no easier way to ease someone into a veg lifestyle than offering them veggies, not veg options!!!!!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 11:44:22

    of course lowering the "bar" is lowering standards. the 'bar' is the standard. Of course you want to allow everyone that offers you a vegburger and salad, you have OCD for writing reviews and adding to as many sites as you can (per your profile page). That's your fetish, I don't think we all need to get sick since you just can't get enough.

    Biz owners don't care that you wanting to eat their boca burger for $10 gets them listed on HC. Really, that isn't how biz models work. It is a silly notion to think a hippie ordering a vegburger at a steakhouse will alter the intention of a steakhouse owner.


  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 03/13/09 11:49:13

    Hi SynthVegan,

    Thanks for starting this thread & for being so loyal. While we've considered this in the past, we've hesitated because we have limited resources and because we want to keep the info we already supply, veg*n restaurants, as high quality as possible.
    If we were to add a new category at the end of regular listings like: "Still hungry? See more options" and have the listings appear only once the user clicks, this might be a possibility, if someone like you were to manage that section. However, we don't have the time to research and verify this kind thing ourselves.
    I still disagree that sending veg*ns to meat restaurants for the one item or two that they offer will change a business or make other customers there more likely to eat veg. More likely than not, that veg customer may be hurting local pure veg places by frequenting them less, especially now in these rough times.
    There are a lot more sides to this issue and we're happy to keep the discussion open. I'll be following this thread.
    -webmaster, eric

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/13/09 12:39:12

    It's counter-intuitive, but think about it: if the end goal is to save animals, we need to reduce the demand for meat. What's the easiest way to do that? Opening one vegan restaurant in Helena, Montana? Or, instead, encouraging 10 or 20 restaurants in Helena to have more vegan items?

    Adding more veggie items to restaurants is an easy way to reduce demand for meat, as people are eating more and more veg. food by the day, for a variety of reasons, and want access to new foods. Every omnivore who chooses a veg. dish over a meat dish helps in this regard. Certainly, vegans and vegetarians help the most.

    I guess it comes down to what your end goal is. If you want to save animals and reduce meat consumption, you need to focus on making omnivores eat less meat (rather than trying to open more all-veg places for the already-converted), and the only way to do that is to make veg-eating as easy as possible---if every bar and restaurant had one or two awesome vegan dishes, that omnivore is more likely to say, "Hey, this vegan thing is easy, because I can eat anywhere, and not at just [Vegan Restaurant on the other side of town]."

    If your only concern is about cross-contamination and purity, then it's a different story. Personally, I am not so picky about cross-contamination, as I'm vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, not for any religious or health reason. I don't like cross-contamination, and when I'm traveling I will always eat at veg-only places before the veg-friendly places, but I'm not intransigent. Also, I have never gotten sick from accidental animal-product ingestion. That said, I'm not going to eat beans cooked in lard, curry with fish sauce, or pasta covered in cheese, just because it's served to me. I ask questions and I know what to watch out for. Unfortunately though, many veg*ns don't know how to protect themselves, and especially the veg-curious have no idea what to look out for. We need to educate them.

    KL, you keep bringing up this bean taco thing, and I don't know what you're talking about. It's becoming mythic, which is amusing, as I don't think I've ever eaten a bean taco before (but now I'm going to look for one). For that matter, I think that the vast majority of my suggested restaurants to Happy Cow are added, but you can ask the webmaster about my statistics.

    Until veganism becomes mainstream, and every restaurant serves at least some vegan food, we're not helping ourselves or the animals. That's my opinion.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 13:18:02

    Your refusal to accept the fact that despite any question and answer w front of staff, the back of staff or kitchen has its own agenda and timing. Ever been involved w a cafe? Didn't think so. I know three palces here where if I did not know someone at some point who worked the back of the cafes would I ever know they weren't actually veggie, here in Eugene. Studio One Cafe even wins local suggestions from unknowing newspapers (at least in the past). Their "vegan powerhouse" is like a hash of tempeh or tofu w lots of good veggies and potato cubes. Only, the place is always packed and their isoalted vegan items are non-existent... they can't dedicate that much space to one menu item. The soy gets deep fried w bacon, the veggies cooked on gross grills. The front of staff knows what to say, even if they don't mean to lie sometimes they are told to. Mekala's, a Thai place, claimed to be vegan-friendly. One day when asking all the right questions that not only condekedar knows to ask, the waiter went into the usual rap until he broke off and whispered that they have to lie to customers and that fish sauce and anchovy paste are NOT excluded despite the claim. And other times, a place like the Keystone Cafe, listed here on Happycow, can advertise itself as vegan friendly all they want, but the bacon grill they use for tofu (though they would NEVER admit to it), nor the rats who reside there, make it a suitable place to eat. Just because you are told something does NOT make it so.

    It was a veggie burger in pubs that you wanted. If you insist you did not make the claim, I will look it up for you, I hate that vibe though if you honestly don't want to own your comments.

    It seems you are apologetic for mainstream culture. You don't want to be fringe. That is your dilemma though, I don't think is fair to impose it here. Get over the fact that McD's will not get listed even if they have a vegburger. For those would-be veggies, they need to use this as a resource of how to get into the game and while you use grosser type places as a crutch, I don't think it would be suggested method for everyone. Plenty of folks can be vegan w/o going to gross places and giving money to steakhouses for potato and spinach. We can and should do better.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 14:21:27

    Of two of the cafes I'm sure you had listed: the Bad Waitress and Birchwood Cafe.

    The Bad Waitress says the have a (surprise!) Veggie burger!!! That and salads!! Hot night on the town. That is a far cry from my belief of legit veg-friendly. Veg-friendly is something nice, not frozen, micro'd and slopped together. Is that truly something you couldn't do at a "normal" supermarket? Oh yeah, they have a tofu scramble in the morning. Gross, have some standard, respect yourself and your vegan values before you post such garbage, please.

    The Birchwood when asked what was vegan said the ribs were not vegan. Is that respectful? Is that funny to someone who cares? They have no entrees that are vegan, but only have a bean salad. Again, hot night out in Minny. Really, this is what it comes to? You really must have an OCD thing going for yourself. Not just coining a phrase, you must honestly have an issue. There is no way.

    VEGAN PRIDE; pass it on!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 14:25:38

    Somewhat on topic since it is about how listings are listed, I think it would be great to show which cafes are favorites when reading the review. Another idea on the town page is place a 'favorite of x people', for a place like Horizons or other nice place that you could see was the hot spot in town, other than ranking by reviews.

    btw, the regional posting is for the arbitrary places. When we all use it it works great.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/13/09 14:57:22

    KL: I honestly do not remember saying anything about veggie burgers and salads and adding places willy-nilly. Find the thread and I'll own up to it, if I did say it. That said, my personal philosophy is to add places with vegan-friendly food. The bar is lower for rural areas; I wouldn't add a bar with a veggie burger in NYC, but I would add it in Clinton, Iowa.

    I don't doubt that there are restaurants which lie to people about ingredients. Those are exactly the type of restaurants that need to publicly black-listed, preferably through user reviews, if there's sufficient proof of their guilt. Otherwise, veg*ns will keep going to them, not knowing what's up---this was Synth's initial point to begin with.

    The system CAN work; check out the description and latest reviews at this Thai restaurant in Minneapolis, which has lost a lot of business from the veg. community, thanks to enough negative reviews:

    I work extensively with restaurants in the Twin Cities through my veg group's Restaurant Outreach program. So I DO know what goes on in kitchens and it's my job to educate restaurant owners and cooks, and we've had big successes in the Twin Cities (come here and I'll show you around to some great spots). Also, I'll be co-managing a new vegan cafe in Minneapolis starting in May (watch for it to be added to HC)!

    If a restaurant refuses to change, then so be it; but they will be exposed, as with the above Thai joint. Cross-contamination is an easy issue to fix with a little education; pre-mixed fish sauce and shrimp paste is not so easy, and we as a community need to watch out for each other and have a repository of our collective knowledge and experiences to avoid those places.

    I don't want McDonald's to be listed for having a veggie burger. You won't find any McD's or Burger Kings on VG or HC, and that's exactly how it should be. If this is about my affiliation with VG, then say so. Are there some other questionable entries on VG? Sure, but they'll be weeded out; the listserv as a group decides which entries to keep or delete and we're still getting around to eliminating some old ones. VG is not as loose as people think; at the same time, it is COMPLETELY community-maintained, so people do add places that aren't necessarily so great. That said, they'll eventually be deleted, or enough user reviews will give people the message that it's not a great place to visit.

    I do hope, though, that McDonald's will add a veggie burger option, for the public and animals at large. I don't apologize for mainstream society, but I accept it for what it is, and try to work with it to save animals. Abolition doesn't come overnight; it takes time and many steps and that's what we're all working toward, I hope.

    In the end, maybe HC isn't the site for what we're talking about. That's fine; HC has his vision, and it is good one, and has had great results. But it is not the Bible of net-based veganism, nor should it be. I'm glad that we as a community are diverse enough to form numerous informational sites and let vegans everywhere make their own decisions.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/13/09 15:20:32

    Right, you are the type of vegan that loves bacon marinated tofu and I am one who refuses. What about the two in Minny I commented above? No response? That type of menu luisting is appropriate? You want the competition as a future vegan businessman for vegan dollars to go to some steakhouse? Or dive bar b/c it has a vegburger?

    From CK:
    "If, for example, many veg*ns starting flocking to a particular bar-grill-tavern joint, because they saw it listed on a site and know it has a killer vegan burger (but nothing else on the menu is vegan), maybe the management would wake up and start offering even more vegan options."

    Yeah, right. They'll laugh. Kitchens like that resent probing only making things worse. Watch a kitchen nightmare or two, see the shocking truth behind many meat places. Then imagine that dysfunction as they take "delicate care" w your precious veg burger. It is a disgrace. I called these places, not just looked at their sites. Birchwood spat in my face, "the ribs aren't vegan". Does that sound vegan-friendly to you? Bad waitress blew it off. Not vegan-friendly, despite your protestation.

    And for true vegans that want to make the world a better place, HC is more a "bible" than anything you got going on. You just have a condition that makes you write reviews ceaselessly. So you try to drag it down into your standards. Just be happy to post in the regional/city notes.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by westcornersville at 03/14/09 10:47:37

    Perhaps we could have 2 tiers?

    We could have one tier that's labeled something like "mostly vegetarian" (or, to borrow from, "very vegetarian friendly") for restaurants like Moosewood in Ithaca, where they do provide the occasional non-veg dish (Hey, website admin--while Moosewood is "famous", they aren't 100% veg!) but emphasize their veg dishes and minimize contamination, and then we could have one for restaurants that have a sizable number of veg dishes (well beyond just side dishes like salads or rolls) but that's not what the majority orders (so things like Indian restaurants that have veg and non-veg dishes, or a veg-friendly Mexican restaurant where there's no lard in the beans and 2/3rds of the items listed can be made veg*an, would be examples).

    As I travel a lot--standards do need to be different based on geography. Obviously, veg-friendly areas (you know where they are--urban California, NYC, Portland, Melbourne & Sydney, urban UK, almost anywhere in India, Toronto, etc. would need stricter standards than, say, Russia, Namibia, Japan or smaller-town Mexico, where restaurants with just a few vegetarian dishes would be helpful to have listed). In the more veg-friendly areas, there should be more expectations by the restaurants that people will want to investigate what goes on in the kitchens regarding cross-contamination, accidental usage of fish-sauce or other "hidden" ingredients, etc., but in the less veg-friendly areas, it's kind of a "first thing's first--just get some non-meat items on the menu--then we'll deal with the other things later" (sort of like most of the US back in the 1980s when it was a lot less veg-friendly than it is now--though there are still a number of places, like Dodge City, Kansas, where my elderly grandmother lives, which are clearly "blasts from the past" with very few opportunities for vegetarians to eat well in restaurants).

    One last thing--regarding country and city notes, there needs to be a way on the website to know when there are notes (versus if not, and you click that link, it just asks you to be the first to submit notes). Those can be quite helpful--especially in areas that are less veg-friendly but yet can offer tips "Ask for food item A, made without meat by-product B", etc.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/14/09 14:38:37

    WE have two tiers: Veggie and veg-friendly.

    QUALITY not quantity. I feel like I did when I was trying to keep my fave market veggie, and found little support. I was successful, but alone. Y'all want meat places that have a dish. I think that idea is crazy. There is no point in having a website for vegans then. We could ask nicely to be lied to by any cafe in US. Leading questions they know the "answer" to and be lied to until the happycows come home. Useless.

    The only thing I see as valuable from this is maybe the Regional notes, where these notes and cafes BELONG!!, might need tweaking to see the accessibility. I for one would not want to hold off until some bumblehill town bc there are seven options listed when those listings were not really friendly in actuality. I want to know when wow there is an option out here in Bumblehill. How flippin great for me. You can't assume bc its in the middle of nowhere that it would be fake veggie-friendly and not actually good veg food. Any college town has potential to be veg-friendly. Iowa City surprised me. If you listed all the garbage, I would never known how veggies can get along well there. Let that inspire the other areas, however slowly, to come up to that standard, not make the Iowa City folk suffer in ANY potential biz from a bar down Rt 80 that sells a gross veg burger. C'mon folks.

    Veg Pride!!! Feel it yourself and Pass it on!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/14/09 19:02:59

    A good thread!

    My input -

    I suggest that today HappyCow "ain't broke" - it does have some messy sections - it is being improved / tidied up continuously.

    I am convinced that vegans / wannabee vegans do not need to be "spoon fed" & certainly do not want to be misled - the ones which I know are quite capable of finding some fruit / salad veggies in any city / village in the world.

    Running a compassionate veggy business requires all of your senses to be switched on & put into overdrive - - HappyCow assists / promotes / encourages such wonderful businesses.

    The only way that I can think of to achieve Synth's goals - without really cluttering up / diluting the site - is to have a section for each city of "Places which we have heard about but choose not to list" - we would not need to give individual specific reasons - there be a paragraph of notes explaining the category.

    This could reduce the problem of places being submitted multiple times.

    It could also encourage some of the places to raise their standards & "re-apply with evidence" of their "vegginess" to get a full listing.

    I know that HappyCow has files / boxes of such places ......but.... it would be a big work to enter their details & I know for sure that there is no budget / person power for this right now.

    It may be feasible to start doing this for new submissions which are sent in via the sumbission pages? - Eric please comment!

    Kedar's ideas also need a budget / much bigger volunteer pool. I wish him all success with doing it elsewhere - he is making some critical mistakes at VG.

    HappyCow does not need to be a place where meaty / "pseudo-green" places are exposed! Dodgy places are deleted quickly on HappyCow.

    I just opened a page of VG for a city which I am very familiar with & 42% of the listings were either incorrect or very, very meaty.

    VG would be wiser to delete their database & simply forward traffic to HappyCow.

    I smiled when I read Kedar's challenge - "But it is not the Bible of net-based veganism, nor should it be." - ........he is a bigger "button pusher" than I am!

    kl - today / in this thread I find that I agree with you 100% - it is a very big dis-service to everyone to list dodgy places on HappyCow.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by westcornersville at 03/14/09 22:37:40

    Kindlizard--I should've said 2 tiers of "non-veg" restaurants (of course, there's also the 100% vegetarian restaurants, and the even more ideal 100% vegan restaurants).

    Certainly, I'm not in favor of listing bad restaurants that have some vegetarian items, but for those people traveling (or living) outside of vegetarian-friendly territory, it might be handy to have a few options (and believe me--around the world--there are places where the options are very slim). But--for places like coastal California, the standards should be high--any restaurant called "veg-friendly" really needs to live up to its name. One unfortunate thing about some of the entries here--some restaurants have very little description (and no ratings/comments). This includes some "veg-friendly" restaurants. Perhaps a little more elaboration is necessary when submitting a veg-friendly restaurant to explain why it is indeed "veg-friendly" (Large number of veg items on the menu? Separate cookware used in the kitchen for veg items? Owner encourages vegetarianism but maybe feels like he/she can't make a profit without a few meat items for "friends of vegetarians"? Etc.).

    By the way, I happened to notice an entry for a veg-friendly restaurant in Sierra Leone (I haven't been there--but based on its "profile", it would be a country where many people eat vegetarian food at home due to economics, and the few that can afford to eat in restaurants would more likely expect meat--hence, it's probably not particularly veg-friendly with its restaurants). That sort of entry is what I like to see in places that have relatively few veg*an options in restaurants. While the sort of food there (the description lists falafel, veggie stir fry, pizza, chips) would be very easy to find in veg form in restaurants in...say...LA or Melbourne, it's not so easy in some countries (or even some parts in the US). (Of course, I would hope they'd have local Sierra Leone cuisine in veg form--when I visit other countries, I strive to eat the local cuisine, if possible.) By the way, here's that restaurant (Royal House):

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/15/09 14:44:06

    You would make the focus non-veg places w/ the proposed tier system. The focus is, and should be, veg places. We need to help them out. As a community of consumers, we need to help ourselves out, too. I strongly disagree with the Synth proposal, seconded by johnny above. Please try to restrain from promoting these non-veg places. Biz models will not be changed b/c of a hit on a website, really. If they increase from one veg item to two, is it worth the bacon grease it is steeped in, honestly?

    This is being done over the internet. I had to stand face-to-face w a poor farmer who in his mind believed his "free range" killings were a good deal for a past community of mine. I protested at length previously, but it was more nervy to do so in the face of a man trying to make his living. I did so alone. Y'all who are vegan should take pride and make a stand for your beliefs and lifestyle. This is anonymous and on the internet. You aren't looking any struggling bizman in the face. Nor do we owe them anything as purveyors of death. When you buy food from such a kitchen, regardless of billing, what do you honestly expect from it? Life or death? I choose kitchens that make food from love not death. The energy of your beloved barroom vegburger is not vibrant nor healthy; it is steeped in blood and posthumous excretions after the animals have been placed on the grill. The same grill you want a tofu scramble or vegburger from. I don't want to wander into that cafe. I think it is a shame, an awful disrespect, if HC would list/honor those places. It would blur the line of honest and good cafes doing what we hope HC is here to do, list the truly honorable folks serving food we can eat w/o taint (pun intended!)

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/15/09 14:45:40

    oh yeah, and thanks johnny for saying so, it is nice to be able to post on HC w/o being attacked. so thank you.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/15/09 21:04:53

    So we now understand that the Minneapolis page needs some very serious editing - - perhaps a warning note should be added as a temporary measure!

    From kl's report we know that the Bad Waitress and Birchwood Cafe can be the first ones to go!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by westcornersville at 03/16/09 00:24:31

    Yep--I certainly agree that the focus should be on 100% veg restaurants (in fact, nearly all the restaurants that I've ever submitted to HC were 100% veg--including all 3 restaurants listed for Tanzania (Hey--even one person actually did a review too!)--while there's a lot of Indian food there due to a sizable Indian population, there aren't very many pure-veg restaurants). But again, there are places where that's just not (at least not yet) possible, and it would be helpful to vegetarians to at least know where there are at least some vegetarian items to eat.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 03/16/09 10:21:08

    * thanks for letting us know about Moosewood - surprised to hear that. Please keep us updated using the update forms whenever you notice something like that.
    * Standards on HC are different based on geography, and that seems to make the most sense (to me at least).
    A recent example is a place submitted called "El Nutri-Taco" in Portland, OR. Portland is one of the most veg-friendly cities in the world. HC already has a ton of listings (mainly 100% veg), so although this place seems to offer a good selection of vegan options, we're not planning on listing it as they also offer meat options.
    * Good idea about travel notes page. That page needs some re-working and a more decisive title. We've just switched to an image rather than text for most of the links to those pages, so showing a count on topics may be difficult. I'll consider it.
    * Regarding veg tiers, we do already differentiate between vegetarian & vegan. Our new search refinement will be launched today or tomorrow and will allow you to just search for vegan restaurants (for instance).
    * The place in Sierra Leone is a good example. Normally we'd never list a place. We've added it mainly to encourage more listings for that region (if there are any good ones).

    * Your idea of a "Places which we have heard about but choose not to list" section is a possibility, but:
    a) will require considerable programming to fully implement as listing info is used in many ways
    b) will also require a human to moderate and considering the extent of restaurants that meet that criteria could easily be a full-time job for 1 person.
    c) one possibility might be to just list the name of the place and address with a short note on why it's not listed.
    * (and everyone) do you suggest we remove listings like Bad Waitress and Birchwood Cafe, or add a note? What might the note say?
    Thanks for all your input everyone. Keep it coming.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/16/09 10:42:12

    I haven't had time to keep up with thread as lately, nor have I been able to read all of these responses; however, I wanted to mention the thought I had last night ASAP, which I emailed the webmaster of HC about.

    I am starting a website that will consist of a "Vegan In Chicago" blog and a section for my photography. So here's the thought: Happy Cow should maintain their strict standards, but put a link at the top or bottom of the page called "Still Hungry? Check out our fellow HC member's Vegan blog for so & so city" or something close to that. Here is part of my email to the Webmaster:
    > Also, once I figure this stuff out, I intend on
    > putting an Happy Cow link up as well. And another > solution I thought of for that big debate; if
    > there are trusted members who have Vegan blogs or > extensive lists in major cities, maybe put up a
    > link called "Still Hungry? Check Out This
    > Vegan/Vegetarian Blog For More Alternatives" or
    > something like that. That way we all are still
    > linked, someone else is doing the work, and
    > everyone is getting hits I guess. Let me know
    > what you think.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/16/09 15:37:19

    Seems like true intentions really shine through, at last. Self-promote on your own profile page. I hate the idea of "still hungry", means that being veg is not good enough. Any arbitrary place could be listed. A listing is publicity. Why would a veg guide give publicity to places that aren't part of our community. You are now suggesting runners-up listings. I think a cafe is either veggie, or close to it, like Moosewood, or it ain't and no hard feelings. We don't walk in their world if they don't walk in ours. So apologetic for mainstream/pop culture. You don't have to be mainstream to be cool, guys. In fact, they are the square ones. Let them be cool and quit the slaughter. Good luck w your blog/pics. I don't think other than your profile your pics have anything to do with Chicago veg cafes, sorry. I think it is offensive and shamelessly self-promoting. Should I put up pics of my beer gut for cities I like to eat in. I have high self-esteem too and think I am a reaql looker even w my beer gut. How bout it webmaster? Can we post pics of my beer gut too?

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/16/09 15:38:10

    Webamster, by saying "places we don't list", you are listing them.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by EthosVeganKitchen at 03/16/09 17:34:15

    Hello All,

    I love Happy Cow! I always refer to it when traveling, and have always had an appreciation for its breadth and accuracy. Now that my husband and I operate a small vegan restaurant, I can fully appreciate the service it provides to restaurants as well, and we get a lot of business from travelers who mention our HappyCow listing.

    My personal feel is that HappyCow should exclude the Not 100% Veg listing. There are plenty of other popular dining websites, like Yelp and Urban Spoon, that include all restaurants. Happy Cow is different because it only lists Vegan/Veg restaurants.

    Verifying that non-veg places meet some established criteria would be difficult, as menus, managers, and staff at any restaurant are not static. There are so many more non-veg places, I think it's best just to leave them out, than to try and decide which non-veg is more veg than the next non-veg.

    Also, as a traveler, I would prefer to see nothing listed in a place where there are no vegan or veg restaurants, than to review a list that is non-veg.

    Whether non-veg is retained or not, I have an idea that I think addresses many of the points brought up in the responses above.

    On any city page, just before the listings begin, it says "Vegetarian Restaurants: (X Listings)". There follow all the Vegan, Vegan-Friendly, and Veg listings in blue, then follow the Veg-Friendly listings in pink. These listing are all in one continuous list, with no break, and the 100% Vegan restaurants are denoted by a green flower.

    To build on westcornerville's suggestion, what if, instead, the list started with "Vegan Restaurants (X Listings), and only the 100% vegan restaurants were listed. This would give priority to the 100% Vegan restaurants by moving them to the top of the list in cities where there are many options, like NYC.

    Next could be "Vegetarian Restaurants (X Listings)", and this list would include the vegan-friendly and veg restaurants.

    Finally, "Other Restaurants (X Listings)" (or something similar), if retained, would include the Not 100% Veg listings - including the disclaimer as it currently exists.

    In cities that have few options, there will be little difference, but, I think this would really be helpful for cities that have a busy veg dining scene.

    Laina :)

    *Edited to include reference to green flower denoting 100% Vegan restaurants.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/16/09 20:50:15

    Sounds great Synth!

    blog regularly right here on HappyCow also & you will get a lot more interest / traffic for your "Vegan In Chicago" blog.

    I love self-promotion if the "self" is a compassionate vegan.

    I only had a problem with Kedar & VG because they really promote meat by failing to be selective about the places that they list.

    My mum cooked veggies........with meat.

    My gran cooked veggies........with meat.

    I do not want to see places cooking veggies........with meat here on HappyCow.

    The current guidelines are just fine - if there is a separate cooking area / real respect for animals by some of the restaurant team then list it.

    Nice post Laina - it would be great if you would jazz up your profile - link to your restaurant & write Reviews - that will get you on the HomePage more often - consider having a page for Ethos on Facebook also & link to HC there!

    BTW folks - to learn more about Ethos Vegan Kitchen go here - - they are in Orlando, Florida.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 03/17/09 09:14:50

    Yes SynthVegan,

    It's a great idea to add quality local resources, such as that from vegan bloggers like yourself to the relevant city page.
    KL, why are you attacking SV? She hasn't even started this blog yet, and she is also one the top HappyCow members (and a personal friend). Please be thoughtful in what you say here and weigh your words before you type.
    Obviously the links chosen for city pages will be carefully reviewed, not a free-for-all. Also, like JS mentions, if it is self-promotion, she definitely deserves to get it!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/19/09 10:45:16

    Hi KL – I just got a chance to check this thread today and I must say that I am quite shocked by your words. Before coming to any hasty generalizations, maybe it would be best to first get information before blatantly trying to offend people? I feel that this type of behavior, seen by newcomers, would turn people in the opposite direction. And to be honest, I'm very picky with the Veg people I associate with and am turned off by the "I am always right" mentality. The fact of the matter is, not everyone is at the point you are, and by reacting in an adverse manner, I think, pushes people away from our ideals. Some people such as yourself and I for example are to the strict Vegan, Animal Rights, etc. point; however, there are people exploring that area; it's imperative to support people and encourage an eventual full transition.

    And in my opinion, no I don't like the idea of listing places with meat, but I have a *choice* as to whether or not I will be eating there – but I feel in not listing places with options, we're discouraging newcomers to fully join the "Vegan Wagon". The new comers may go to some place to ease into Seitan, Tofu scramble, tempeh or what have you, but I choose to go to the fully Veggie places more often. From experience, this is how I did it (going to places with options). I didn't know anyone that was Vegan and was figuring things out on my own; and I was young mind you, so with that said, I wasn't even sure as to where to look into the idea. Rather, the places I went to facilitated my full transition and I'm sure that others can agree with that statement.

    Now regarding the blog, which as pointed out I haven't even started yet, is a way of me sharing things via the Internet. I'm not trying to promote or make money on anything – I've never even run a website, nor do I know what I'm doing (my friend is helping me). I have a fulltime job as a Financial Analyst, I go to school, and do freelance photography (and that just names a few things in my busy schedule). I'm lucky if I have time to check my email or this thread for that matter. I needed a venue to share my photography with friends that don't have MySpace or Flickr so I decided why not start my own website? Then I thought of the idea, hey, while I'm at it why not start a "Vegan in Chicago" website since I consider myself well-versed as to the Vegan options here. There are plenty of places here that have Vegan options (i.e. Vegan ice cream, Vegan desterts, etc.) here that I find every day, and I understand why Happy Cow doesn't list them. My idea is this: Start a "Vegan things to-do when you're in Chicago type" of site. [This also takes the burden off of HC to list several places or to hire someone to become the "expert" as to Veg options in each city].

    And no, my photography doesn't have anything to do with food, but I'll have you know that I've been in the process of purchasing a compact camera (rather than lugging around my SLR to restaurants) to facilitate this idea. And furthermore, how do you know what my photography encompasses? Have you seen it? It's not just all me, you may just think it is because I change my avatar all of the time. And yes, please put a picture of yourself as your avatar, it would be nice to put a name (KL) to a face (or beer gut as you've stated). ;)

    I don't have time to maintain two sites, so that's why the aggregation of the two ideas seemed ideal to me. I also think it's a good idea to link other member blogs to HC and vice versa. I think this will get HC more hits; and if anyone were to benefit I really think it would be HC because they have the worldwide listing of restaurants.

    Thank you to JS and WM for your support; encouragement from people like yourselves makes others want to do more to aid in the Veg cause. Sorry for the longwinded response, I hope everyone is have a good week thus far.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/19/09 14:22:40

    Sweet, you know of course, there is a blog here on HC, right? So worried about newcomers... I see where you and conde come from, the idea if we place any pub w a salad or vegburger they'll feel cool, like they ate a place on a hippie website and are now almost vegan. And you hope that encouragement will make them want to grow into a level five vegan. I think it is more harm in being fake. Be veg and if a newcomer wants to try vegan food, he/she will have real options. Most fake places are gross, even local places that can be known (locally Keystone Cafe in Eugene is acclaimed by many as an omni place but really a veg place... nothing is farther from the truth. The place has bacon and taters and tofu all on same grill.)

    You started a thread, SV, and then later said you had no time to read any of it, but that the real reason you wanted to contribute is so you could have a blog. Stirring up conde's mess so you can just ask for a blog. You should have simply asked webmaster for linkage instead of heralding food poisoning for vegans. I mean, that is the point. We should have a place of our own without trying to overly accommodate or apologize for mainstream culture.

    I know I have done a lot for the cause! How much do you think I can get for my website, pics of middle-age, out-of-shape vegan? I could throw in advice for how not to eat bacon as a vegan. Love the evolution... from vegan dining to hot pics. Hope I get mine in...

    How come the 2 cafes I called in Minny,MN each were like, "vegan?"! Pork, and so forth? Were they reviewed? Or is conde's word good for it? Just wondering... perhaps you should note who you get the adds if the cafes are not contacted directly prior to listing, so I know any of conde's places are "veg".

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/19/09 15:21:10

    My mess? KL, you really need to calm down and stop attacking everyone. We get the point: you're sensitive about cross-contamination. Don't take it out on us.

    If you don't like my listings, then so be it. I haven't even "added" any restaurants to HC in a long time. For the record, I didn't "add" the two places in MN you're talking about; I recommended one of them, and HC added it. I would de-list it now, but not because of the cross-contamination issue.

    Did you go to any other restaurants in Minneapolis? Because there are more than two vegan-friendly places here. Go eat somewhere else. If all it cost you was two brief phone calls to discover you don't want to eat at a place, then it's not a big deal. Tell the webmaster and get the place de-listed.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/19/09 20:13:59

    KL - You're clearly not reading/listening to what anyone has to say (selectively picking pieces out) and are creating your own problems/drama on this forum rather than helping come to a *peaceful* solution. The way you've chosen to behave, I'm sure, has made an impact as to how people view you -- I know my opinion has changed. From this point forward, I choose not to associate with you any longer.

    To clarify to everyone, this thread was requested by the webmaster in order to separate the prior conversation that deviated from the initial question listed here

    If anyone else has any suggestions regarding the Veg-friendly process, please share. ;) Take care everyone!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/19/09 21:56:39

    My additional input - maybe there will be some repetition here -

    Veg-friendly places which are "respectful" do deserve to be listed / promoted - ..........but we must be very, very selective about which ones we list - many of the current US listings do badly need to be reviewed / some certainly need to be deleted!

    Often the good places have some veggie staff who ensure that the veggie meals are not tainted with flesh / animal juices.

    Maybe most of the genuine veg-friendly places will never go 100% vegan - but vegan businesses often spin off from them - think London's "East West Centre" in the 80's - the "Grand Mommy" of dozens of vegan places now listed on HappyCow - some details -

    A good example today of real veg-friendly is "The Fringe Club" in Hong Kong - the daily lunch buffet is mostly vegan & is prepared separately from any meat dishes - so HappyCow lists it - - ......even though we have 50+ veggy places already listed in Hong Kong & there 50 more in existence which will only get listed when someone is inspired to submit them.

    Tasteful "self-promotion" is what HappyCow is all about - the majority of the content of the site is very positive - abuses / negativity / spams are picked up pretty quickly - be sure to let Eric know whenever you spot envious / stalky / spammy reviews or posts.

    Many restaurants & stores have benefited strongly from their listings in the past 9+ years.

    5 or 10 extra customers every month coming via HappyCow - some of whom become regulars - can push a small eating place from losing money into profitability.

    I know many owners who make a point of checking on their HappyCow listings every few days - even if they are not so active on the site in other ways.

    A success story - May Kaidee in Bangkok - in the mid & late-90's May had 5 second hand plastic tables & some rickety wooden chairs & benches - underneath a plastic tarpaulin - plus the tiniest imaginable kitchen - in the monsoon season eating there was often a very damp experience.

    Now May runs 4 vibrant restaurants which are 98+% vegan - she has served thousands upon thousands of plates of her delicious "Isan style" red-rice / noodles / veggies & her world renowned banana flower salads & green papaya salads - where did her customers / friends come from? - HappyCow listed May Kaidee since Day #1 of the site - Eric created / promoted her first website & advertized her first cookbook - plus the "word of mouth" network of fans was so good that May Kaidee had mentions in many editions of Lonely Planet's "Bangkok Bibles".

    .......many other restaurants have copied / spun off from May Kaidee over the years - worldwide - all of this is a very healthy organic growth of compassionate eating options -

    I am submitting 2 new places today - Soland in Hong Kong - & Aunt Olive's in Ottawa - - both of which I first found via friends of our HappyCow Group on Facebook.

    Network more / cross promote more - it benefits animals - every day!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/19/09 23:00:14

    Working on them now - one very "veg-friendly" - one "wonderfully extreme vegan" - I look forward to visiting both of them!

    Aunt Olive's
    209 Gilmour
    Ottawa B. C.

    Open 11 to 5 from Sunday to Tuesday, and 11 to 8 every other day, (613) 899-7719 & (613) 565-0564.

    Sides: $3-$3.50
    Mains: $4.50-$8.75

    Located on Gilmour between Elgin and Metcalfe.

    A café - A vintage thrift shop - A clothing store.

    Vegan friendly - lots of options - serves meat.

    Aunt Olive's Group on Facebook -


    3/F No.6 Gilman's Bazaar
    Hong Kong Island
    Hong Kong SAR
    (entrance just on left hand side of Kug Kug noodles shop)

    Tel: +852 -9473-3412

    Vegan Western Cuisine

    mon to fri 12:00 to 15:00

    closed sat,sun and public holidays

    Simplicity.. ..

    We use purified water filtered by Living Drinking Water System NSF ( class 1 )

    We never use.. ..microwave, pan-fried, deep-fried and stir-fired to cook our food.

    We provide vegan diet.. ..excludes five pungent plants ( garlic, leek, onion, scallion and Hing spice ),.. .also no egg, milk, mushroom....

    Our natural vegetarian dishes all based on fresh .. ..vegetables, fruits and herbs with appropriate quantity of olive oil,.. ..raw sugar and sea salt... ..

    We provide raw food diet with organic seeds and bean sprouts...

    We made our own creamy and oil-free sauce by using potatoes, pumpkins,.. ..taros, sweet potatoes, avocado etc... ..

    Absolutely no MSG and Corn starch.

    e-mail address - solandvv (at) msn (dot)com

    Soland Group on Facebook -

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/23/09 20:44:21

    Good, good - the system is working very well -

    Aunt Olives - scroll down to find them - - I hope that someone visits & reviews them soon.

    Soland -

    Suggestions - it is not logical to add website links for lacto- / ovo- -...... but not for veg-friendly.

    Dairy / egg production is way more cruel than meat production.

    The 70's / 80's / 90's are over!

    Compassionate people eat plants / work to kick their addictions to animal products.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Lqq at 03/26/09 15:38:44

    I am a Vegan and find this guide very useful. That usefulness is diluted by the addition of meat serving places. I'm not interested in giving my cash to people who make their money killing animals. I'm not interested in veggie friendly only animal friendly – i.e. won't kill them.

    With meat serving places you have to wonder about everything – directly cooking food on the same grills, in the same pans. Is the knife they are using to cut your bread the same knife they just used to spread that Tuna? If you are Vegetarian have they used vegetarian cheese or cheese with rennet in? Is there animal fat in that? Have they put fish oils in the vegetable stock? Meat eaters don't know what being Veg*n is because it isn't part of their life – they don't read food labels to check for gelatine in mints or animal fat in biscuits. The bottom line is this: non-vegetarian restaurants are probably serving non-vegetarian food to you.

    As a guide this sites real usefulness to me is to let me know if I can eat out in a city I haven't been too before – and that means a non-meat serving place. The non 100% vegetarian listings are a waste of space.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veganinvegas at 03/27/09 15:16:47

    What about those cities that have absolutely NO 100% vegan places to eat? What about those restaurants that serve more vegan food than non-vegan food but still serve non-vegans in order to stay in business?

    My favorite restaurant has a veg chef who has 2 different kitchen prep areas: 1 for vegan, 1 for non and she uses only vegan ingredients like cheese, sour cream, margarine... I guess she doesn't tell the carnivores that their sandwich has real meat and vegan cheese on it. The desserts are ALL vegan though and the carnivores can't figure it out!

    She is dedicated enough to know not to cross-contaminate, but I agree with others that most other restaurants (especially the chains) wouldn't know a vegan ingredient if it came up and bit them on the leg!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by VeganBeader at 03/29/09 22:02:12

    Which restaurant veganinvegas, I am usually in Las Vegas at least twice a year, I want to visit your favorite place.

    I rarely feel comfortable eating in a restaurant which also prepares non-vegan food.

    I suggest to only list places which serve meat & diary & eggs IF they are genuinely conscious enough to keep vegan dishes "clean".

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Kiran at 04/18/09 18:23:42

    I'm with Veganinvegas! If anything, in the towns where there is no vegetarian restaurant, its doubly important to know where you can eat without compromising your principles.

    Here in El Paso, TX/Juarez, MX (a metro area of 3.3 million) we don't have a single vegetarian/vegan restaurant but there are a few which come very close (wide variety, no cross contamination, exacting on ingredients).

    I tried to submit an entry on the most veg-friendly one (Ripe Eatery on Redd Road), but sadly, it was rejected. Needless to say, I won't be trying to submit any more.

    So, if you are passing through the El Paso area and looking for where to eat in this metroplex, you won't be able to find it on Happy Cow (sad face). Just send me a PM and I'll be happy to give you some suggestions.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 04/20/09 19:41:43

    Hi Kiran,

    In situations like yours we recommend you to submit a health food store or local farmers market. That way we can add the new city to the site and then, if you like, you can add something about the place you mentioned is the city notes for El Paso. Having the city listed also increases the chance that a vegetarian, or veg-friendly place which meets our criteria will get added (in the case that you didn't know about it) since visitors will see the "El Paso" page.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 04/21/09 05:57:08

    Hows about some of these Kiran? -

    Chile Shop
    El Paso Chile Company
    909 Texas Avenue
    El Paso, Texas 79901

    Mostly vegan!

    All deadly!
    + If you're ever "out in the West Texas town of El Paso," be sure to stop by and visit The El Paso Chile Company's Chile Shop, housed in a rustic factory building and run by Monica. Full of unique treasures from south of the border and beyond, you'll find a wide array of useful and fanciful items - as well as lots of salsa, drink mixes and cookbooks. +

    The El Paso Chile Company's Chile Shop is housed in a rustic factory downtown building. Full of unique treasures from south of the border and beyond, you'll find a wide array of useful and fanciful items.
    Trend-setters at that time, their product line and original packaging expanded into a line that now proudly boasts 17 dips and salsas, 5 barbecue sauces, 6 condiments, 6 best-selling cookbooks written by Park, and a dizzying array of imaginative gift, snack and drink mix selections.

    Centro Naturista Alternadivo
    1155 N Zaragoza Rd # C-113, El Paso, TX, El Paso, TX 79907-1812

    (915) 859-5584

    Nature's Sunshine Herb Store
    9032 Alameda Ave, El Paso, TX, El Paso, TX 79907
    (915) 859-1987

    Nutrition Connection Juice Bar
    5600 Chaffee Rd, Fort Bliss, TX 79916
    (915) 565-7725

    The Nutrition Connection Juice Bar, located in the lobby of Stout Fitness Center, menu offers fruit smoothies, along with an assortment of "sensational shakes" such as the muscle builder, fat burner, pure protein, energizer and power shakes. Patrons may customize their drinks by selecting from a menu of recommended additives, which target specific areas such as fat loss, muscle gain or nutrition.

    Nature's Sunshine Herb Store
    9032 Alameda Ave, El Paso, TX, El Paso, TX 79907
    (915) 859-1987

    Herbs Unlimited
    907 Chelsea St, El Paso, TX, El Paso, TX 79903
    (915) 771-8384

    Nutri Centro
    215 S Mesa St # C, El Paso, TX, El Paso, TX 79901
    (915) 542-3373

    Rainbow Natural Health Foods, 1111 Hawkins Blvd # 4a, El Paso, TX 79925
    (915) 778-0001

    El Paso Health Food Center, 2700 Montana Ave, El Paso, TX 79903
    (915) 565-4667

    Only Natural, 8838 Viscount Blvd # C, El Paso, TX 79925
    (915) 591-5420

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by mkpurvis at 04/23/09 04:48:06

    I agree with lgg. There are plenty of "vegetarian-friendly" restaurants around, and it is difficult to draw the line on such a fuzzy definition. The meaningful and most widely understood categories are still (a) vegetarian, (b) vegan, and (c) lacto-ovo vegetarian. I have used the site and contributed to it in connection with sites across Asia and Australasia. I hope this site maintains its integrity.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by iwilldeny at 08/02/09 18:46:48

    I think it would be silly to not list omni places that are veg. friendly. There's a difference between most restaurants that have a token veggie burger/salad that may be cross-contaminated with meat/dairy and an actual restaurant that has a dedicated vegetarian/vegan clientele and is very accommodating. My three favourite restaurants in town are all omni, but are well known for their vegan-friendliness and even my omni friends tend to order the veggie dishes when we go there. I find that the strictly vegetarian restaurants in my city are fairly mediocre and really just survive because of the niche market or novelty of fake meat products. That's definitely not the case with all vegan/veg restaurants, I've been to others in other cities that are excellent but here they are just okay or pretty hit-or-miss. I feel that if these restaurants weren't shown, veg. travellers who check this site would be missing out on some great food.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by gr8vegan at 09/27/09 19:36:13

    I hate talking to people who travel who go places and miss out on tons of veg options because they aren't technically savvy enough or have enough time to find them via google / finding veg blogs in the area etc. We really need to concentrate on making sure everyone's travels and veg adventures are always packed full of choices. I think there is a bit of a grey area on listing a place that has one vegan burrito. Its though to make rules like "if a 10 mile radius has more than 5 listings then we won't list 1 trick vegan ponys" etc. Maybe just a subjective area in the Add a New Restaurant that says "if this location is not totally veg what makes it post worthy and why should we give it our attention vs 100% veg places." Then the uploaded can say things like "OMG the owner just went vegan, and is slowly changing the menu, but has to keep in business" or "The only other veg option in this area is way too pricey, every vegan I know eats here because the burrito is that good" Then you'd have some subjective info to decide if you're going to list a place. If the place doesn't maintain a 3 or 4 happycow then nuke it. Just brainstorming!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 09/27/09 20:18:38

    I agree with the "give us a reason" idea. I also don't think that places with one vegetarian item should be listed (unless it's in the middle of nowhere I suppose). I think if a place has at least 25% Vegetarian items it should be listed. Because of this issue I've resorted to using other sites such as Yelp along with Happycow now. Using both sites I've been able to find decent options.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 09/29/09 11:09:06

    Just so I understand, are you suggesting that one trick burrito joints should be listed? Or only if the owner is going veg? I don't think the morality of it has anything to do w it, nor the owner's intention. I think if that veg burrito has its components sitting on a board used to cut meat or poultry or fish, are you winning by eating that burrito? In my history, I lose, big time.

    The reason I think this place is special is bc it is for vegans and the fake places that get listed are very problematic. The three of us use this site as a resource quite a bit. I suppose I am in the minority of not wanting to see places listed that are not serious about veggies on here. what happens is someone who thinks they are doing me a favor says they saw it listed here (even as I might have suggested it) and they go to their safe zone instead of trying a vegan place and I suffer even though it was "endorsed" by Happycow.

    My wife gives me such grief over this site. I love it of course, but she thinks we have had too many meals at places listed here where we have gotten sick, a lot of bad places that needn't be listed, a lot of fake reviews, and such. I think diluting it further would make it harder on those of us committed to a truly vegan lifestyle i n making right choices. Sure there may be places that use diff cookware and such, but do they maintain that when it gets busy or when the chef is stressed/ in a bad mood? And if you're traveling, is it worth maybe taking a day out of your schedule to be sick in the middle of nowhere instead of healthily moving forward.

    My tip to any vegan traveling: Know where the HF store is. Stock up on some road (or air) friendly staples so you are less likely to be stuck in a predicament where you have to eat something you would not tend to eat otherwise.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Sonja and Dirk at 09/29/09 15:59:10

    We've been using Happy Cow for years, but only recently "joined", so my two cents is based on how I personally used the site during that time. I used it to look up new places locally and especially when we travelled.

    I was drawn to this site since it was veggie/vegan. As a vegan, I tend to frequent only vegan restaurants as I feel confident about the food there. Veggie restaurants that serve dairy and eggs make me nervous as I get sick from eating even small amounts of it now. However, I do understand that veggie restaurants will be listed and I appreciate any comments about whether it's vegan-friendly or mainly lacto-ovo in the description as it helps determine whether it's worth my time (like Fatty's in LA). There are some non-veg places here that I feel should be here (like M Cafe in LA) as they are almost vegan, but a place having a couple options available is not what I'm looking for in a major city like Los Angeles where you can get something vegetarian (but not vegan) almost anywhere. Granted, if you are in a non-veg friendly area, it helps to know where there's at least something to eat, so I agree that geography should play a role (like Red Velvet Cafe in Las Vegas).

    Having said that, we personally try to travel to places that we have already deemed veg-friendly enough for us (either lots of listings here or other research I did on how to handle it). There are locations that are lower on my list of places to visit due to that. And we do carry lots of our own snacks when we travel as you never know when you just need to eat something and nothing else is available.

    I have found Happy Cow to be very useful and would in general prefer it stays veggie/vegan unless the place is exceptionally veg-friendly. I tell anyone who wants to know about veggie places to look up Happy Cow. I just had a non-veg friend use Happy Cow to find a veggie Chinese place near her after she ate at another one with me and liked it a lot. If she's looking to expand veggie options in her life (stepping out of the box she calls it), I'd like her to go to veggie restaurants and see how much can be offered to her, but that's just my take on it.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 09/29/09 19:39:34

    Thanks for sharing guys. With the current wording on the submission pages, we're still getting a TON of very un-veg-friendly places added. At this time we have no plans to lessen the bar, but remember, each submission is handled case by case.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 09/30/09 11:22:06

    Sonja and Dirk,

    I hear what you are saying, I dig what you're laying down etc...
    I just wanted to note that I made a similar effort to find vegan Chinese on the road last year. The following is a listing that seems to be vegan-friendly, at a glance from what may seem like it by its listing anyway...

    This is only one of the brutal times we were made ill on the road and had to take time to patch up before heading on. I have since been to most of the surrounding towns' listings as well, and would have very much preferred to eat in Iowa City or Des Moines (though DM is not exactly close ~ Iowa City is) where there are co-ops, straight veg cafe and so forth. Listing MJs and bypassing other potential cafes along the way in favor of making good time is part of the harm. Similarly, listing a pub in Salem that has a burrito and maybe a hummus and cheese platter that is listed may trick a traveler into bypassing either Portland or Eugene, two very good towns to be vegan, along I-5. McMenamin's burritos do sometimes taste like other things than veggies. I'd just say be careful.

    I think the best thing if traveling is to look at every town along your route. Call ahead before you hit the road. Don't leave it to trusting that it has been thoroughly vetted by HC, though they likely do their best.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Sonja and Dirk at 09/30/09 12:56:20

    kindlizard - I'm sorry for your terrible food experience. I can relate. I just always hope it doesn't happen in countries where public toilets are not as accesssible and clean as ours! Personally, I think Chinese and such should only be listed if they are completely veggie (or nearly so). I've had Chinese in different countries, but I would not have expected to find them on Happy Cow. Interesting enough, years ago, we went to a Chinese place in Mallow, Ireland and saw no tofu on the menu. We asked if they had any and the waitress said no. We ordered some vegetable dishes, but a few minutes later, she came back to say they did have tofu. Must have been their personal stash. lol Basically, I guess my point is that most vegans know what to ask and how to survive in "regular" places if they have to. I come to Happy Cow to find vegan places (and am so stoked when I can eat vegan the whole trip). I generally don't go to veg-friendly places unless they are local and I already know what they are about (or they had good meaningful reviews), so I don't rely on HC for those although as I said above, I know examples in LA of veg-friendly places that should be listed. It's all so subjective on how veggie each person thinks a place needs to be although I'd personally say nearly so at a minimum, so I agree with you about doing your own research and knowing where you are going. I use local vegan blogs for this sort of thing as well.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 09/30/09 17:35:53

    Places like the one KL mentioned are listed because there was nothing else anywhere nearby. It was added before HappyCow added a stricter policy, and from the sounds of it maybe should not be listed. We don't have a precise science for this, but often we wait for more bad reviews before removing a place like this. Considering that there's nothing within many miles it makes some sense to leave this up. Also, the negative review may serve to warn others who are thinking about eating there. In other instances, these kinds of places might improve as a result the veg customers being sent their way. Let us know your thoughts.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Sonja and Dirk at 10/01/09 11:14:00

    I can tell you that I don't envy your task although I appreciate it enormously. :-) It must be so hard to sort out what level some place is at, so you'd have to wait for reviews to find out more and whether to remove it if there aren't enough veg options.

    I like that the veg-friendly places are listed last, but that can be deceiving. M Cafe is way more vegan than some all vegetarian restaurants I've been to. There was one in Chicago that was so lacto-ovo heavy that I had almost nothing to eat. I can't imagine it's feasible to have a vegan scale for places. If some veg-friendly place really is awesome, the locals will write good reviews (which is why I went to Red Velvet Cafe for instance).

    It's important for us to read and leave reviews so that we can all share this info. Kudos to all who check out a new place and let us know about it. I feel bad that I didn't join earlier and contribute. Additionally, I like that website links are included where possible as looking at the menu online can help me decide too.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 10/07/09 12:53:04

    A few more ideas...

    Veg friendly places that are listed in a city should only get one listing. Laughing Planet is listed 4 times in Portland, a relatively small city. That's in addition to other listings in other cities. I think it is great that Blossoming Lotus gets another venue in Portland and deserves another listing. But LP is not that veg-friendly, at least the one in Eugene does have issues w cross contamination. So while you may list a veg-friendly place, I would suggest giving them a single listing w the website or try to list all places in one listing. Just by numbers it looks like there is a potential of being more -vegan friendly than they are due to volume of listings, rather than vegan quality of listings, if you catch my drift. Cafe Yumm in eugene (and Oregon as a whole now as they expand) is more vegan friendly than LP, but only lists once in Eugene, which I think is good. They have 5 I think in Eugene.

    And Webmaster, I respectfully disagree that a cafe will change to a more veggie minded menu since I said I found them here.

    Lastly, this issue resurfaced right when I was having a conversation w the owner of 3 Forks Wok and Grill in Eugene. Their claim is that they have two different grills for meats and veg. So asking about cutting boards, knives, fridges, the conversation ended and I was not given a reply. I wrote in a review that their food was boring bland, and gross, it actually made me feel ill. She wanted to address my issues but when it came to answering in depth about veganism in her cafe it actually halted. The thing we can see as customers, the grill, is as far as she was willing to talk. The behind the scenes issues, more or less, were non of my biz, but I disagree. If a place is listed on a veg site, they should be more forthcoming about how they store, prep and clean their food. Its why LP is a turn off to many of us in Eug, you can see how close the meat and veg come in contact. At 3 Forks, the website only has pictures of meat, to which the owner told me she didn't list herself here. Meaning, she doesn't care she's listed here, nor would she make changes let alone talk about the actual issues of her kitchen. There are dozens if not hundreds of places a vegan "could" eat in Eugene. They just might be lying to themselves, if like conde they don't get ill from cross contamination, and not really dining well in a place where it is easy to do so. thanks for the time...

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by jlautner at 10/07/09 20:21:32

    I haven't read every single response above so I apologize if I repeat information.

    Recently I read a report on the testing of several vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area. All advertise themselves as vegan, completely free of animal products. Yet many of the foods from these places tested positive for various animal products. If the concern here is cross-contamination, restricting the list to vegan restaurants will not do it.

    Personally, I would love to see a way to include the veg-friendly restaurants because I travel a lot and many cities have NO vegan restaurants so I'd like to know what my best bets are. The town I live in has no vegan restaurants either and I'd like to encourage vegans to trek on over to those who are the most vegan-friendly. Is that so very complicated??

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 10/08/09 10:54:22

    Well jlautner, if you thought those vegan places tested for and contained animal products is disappointing, I am willing to bet that if you tested a veg-friendly place you would find much more. (Btw are you talking about whey in Chinese seitan type of thing? I would think finding beef remnants in a vegan cafe would be seriously unlikely. Maybe specify more clearly what animal products you're talking about, very generally like it is it seems unnecessarily inflammatory.)

    Your town, SLO, did have a vegan, or at least veggie and mostly vegan, cafe about two months ago, it is a shame you missed it. The Smiling Dog Cafe probably could have used the support, but you only reviewed Pizza Fusion, a national pizza chain. If you supported and talked up a local place like Smiling Dog, who knows, but part of the point is exactly this. We need to support the veggie biz in our areas and promote them to others on this site. If traveling through SLO myself, I would certainly prefer Smiling Dog, regardless of the feta in the salad, over a national pizza chain. They had raw desserts and made actual intentions known they were doing the right thing. But hey, they are shut down, so now you are correct, there is only veg-friendly in your town. Instead of reviewing Smiling Dog, you add competition that does not look very vegan friendly in the 2 delis you listed. The Cakery only has a hummus samich that looks vegan, maybe there is more but it seems like a meat first and veg an afterthought type of place, and the Outspoken Beverage Bistro is a coffee joint that sells scones. The places you clearly support are a far cry from what I think should be listed here. One stinkin' samich that anyone can go to a normal grocery store and make between the two places you listed is not a fair representation of veg food in your town. So while it may be the California Yuppie lifestyle, it is far from vegan and the real shame of it was you let a vegan cafe come and go without so much as a nod of recognition.

    I don't appreciate you telling vegans to go trek out to a place that offers a mere plate of hummus among tons of dead animals. I would think the criteria for being listed would entail more than a hummus samich and a salad (hold the pork). But that is the reason for this debate. Folks like you like bacon bits and folks like me don't want anything to do with it. YES it is complicated.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 10/08/09 13:01:57

    Smiling Dog Cafe is still open---I just called them. Do make sure to check them out if you're in San Luis Obispo. Phone number: 805-546-9100.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 10/08/09 23:21:28

    word, when I called it said the # was disco'd.... looks like a different # than the one listed here... good news good news...

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by lilmammal at 10/13/09 09:21:25

    I am disappointed that restaurants which serve meat, yet still offer veg options, cannot be added to the site. I use Happy Cow primarily when I travel to figure out my options. I want to know where I can go even if they offer meat as well. I just travelled to a small city where there are no restaurants which meet the new strict listing options. However, doing a little research I found an Indian restaurant, a Mediterranean place, and a Thai restaurant. Other veg visitors to the area would likely want to know this information but I have no way to share it with them now since they don't pass this new test. Plus, most cities do not have any restaurants at all that meet these strict new standards. I live in the 11th largest city in the US and I can't list a single one here. What hope is there for veggies visiting smaller places??? I have used Happy Cow for years, both searching for info and sharing info. I seriously question the usefulness of this restriction, especially when it can be indicated in the restaurant's listing that meat is also served. Can't another method be used instead to promote truly veg restaurants? Perhaps they can be given priority in the listing results, displaying first. Maybe there can be a new icon with the listing indicating it is cruelty free. I don't know, but it seems like there could be something else more useful.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 10/13/09 10:16:44

    Hi Lilmammal-

    As mentioned above, HappyCow does list veg-friendly places. We have created guidelines for those submissions:
    Please read them.

    Although the process (if you read it) seems a little cut-and-dry, all submissions are individually reviewed (notice the use of the word 'may'). This tenuous process is one point that I feel sets HappyCow apart from the rest.

    We have made the process this way to get some people to stop, think, and force them to read; not to block decent veg-friendly places from being added.

    We previously received a TON of very un-veg-friendly listing submissions daily and this took much of our limited time to research.

    Just saying we require something to effect of "at least 60% veg" didn't work. Nor did sending people straight to our guidelines page.

    The language we use in is a work-in-progress and I welcome your suggestions to improve it.

    As the guidelines suggest, it's a case by case thing.

    If you think the place(s) you wish you list should be listed, please explain why (using the online form) and we will consider it.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Deli Katesen at 06/09/10 02:52:43

    "Restaurant serves veal, fois gras, shark fin, or lamb - here's where we draw the line!"

    The lamb ruling would probably exclude most UK restaurants. I agree with the principle, but from a practical point of view, this would make HappyCow worthless as a resource outside of large towns and cities.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 07/29/10 09:39:33

    Deli Katesen, that's why, if you read our guidelines carefully, you'll see that each case is decided on many factors, not just the type of meat point. We have made the process this way to get some people to stop, think, and force them to read; not to block decent veg-friendly places from being added.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veggoodness at 09/06/10 14:37:50

    I have been vegan for almost 20 years and have been using Happy Cow on and off for almost that long. It has been an invaluable resource when I'm traveling.

    I too am extremely disappointed to see the rules excluding restaurants that serve certain types of meat. Today I logged on still glowing from an excellent Thai food meal at a restaurant that marks every item on the menu that can be made vegetarian for vegan, and it is A LOT. They have wonderful coconut soup, coconut curries, drunken noodles, pad thai, mango sticky rice and more, all vegan, but now I see I cannot post this restaurant as a resource for others on Happy Cow because they serve beef. What a shame!

    I don't think being exclusionary serves the needs of our community or the animals. Why prohibit people from sharing information that doesn't meet the standards of some, but clearly is a welcome resource for many? I understand that Happy Cow has a mission, but this policy is cutting you off from many visitors who will find that you no longer meet their needs. The reviews make it clear what each restaurant does and does not do, so if you don't like restaurants that also serve meat (or particular kinds of meat), why not just make sure these can be filtered out of the search results? Wouldn't that be better than banning them altogether?

    I have to say this makes me very sad, because I will need to find a new site besides Happy Cow.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veggoodness at 09/06/10 14:44:25

    BTW, I would point out that your guidelines page is inconsistent with the pop-up screens that are shown when I tried to list a veg-friendly restaurant. The pop-up screen asked if the restaurant served beef, among other things, and when I clicked yes it would not allow me to even try to post a listing.

    If you truly are open to listing restaurants that might serve beef or lamb but have other options that are enthusiastically welcomed by vegans, you need to change your pop-up screens and/or be more clear about how your users can petition you for an exception.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 09/06/10 15:56:23

    veggoodness, Obviously you did not read carefully, and it's mentioned in this thread too. On the "pop-up" screens, it ends with the sentence, "Please proceed..."- READ FULLY. It's a case-by-case deal.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by rmark25 at 09/07/10 20:20:52

    I am slightly confused by this discussion. Are people having problems adding non-veg restaurants to happycow? I have added about 6 restaurants that serve meat to some degree and have had no problems from happycow.

Keep HappyCow Growing Strong!

I would like to support