As a Vegan for more than 30 years I would like you to note that I only frequent Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants and HappyCow when I travel in countries where they have a non-alpha language, and do not have a human translator to tell the waitstaff "No fish oil, chicken stock, etc., etc." ...and it is bloody time-consuming chasing around to find them! Everywhere else in the world I simply go to the restaurant of my choice and tell them my needs. Sure, I go to the occasional amazing Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant like Naam (Vancouver) and Vegan Thai (Santa Monica), but otherwise most V restaurant menus are too frufru for me, or - often in Asia - emphasize too much fake meat, squid, etc.
I also notice literally worldwide (well, 54 countries) that 75-80% of the patrons of Vegan and Vegetarian restaurants are Carnivores either taking a 'cleaner/healthier' meal out, or assuming there are no calories within the meal. I sincerely believe this is in part because most Vegans/Vegetarians eat at home or in 'regular' restaurants where they trust the kitchen to not 'cross contaminate' rather that hitting designated restaurants all the time (and therefore not using HappyCow). The exception is with 'newbie' V-peeps, who are eating at V-specific restaurants looking for recipes and inspiration.
Case in point, I just spent the entire month of February in China this year, and ate my way though 9 cities over the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival events. Vegan/Vegetarian eating is HUGE during the first week of Spring Festival - believed to be the most spiritual way to start the new year. The following week they go back to their Carnivore ways. In many restaurants over that period I was often one of the very few Vegans in the place!
So, to my point. It is my sincere belief that the addition of Vegan Friendly and Vegetarian Friendly classifications on your website would (a) increase the awareness of our diet/lifestyle/benefits to a greater population, not just 'preach to the converted', (b) increase the addition and highlighting of Vegan Options and Vegetarian Options on menus worldwide, thus adding to 'a' above, (c) help to 'spread the V word' and hope to inspire new V-peeps, (d) help to create less of an 'us and them' attitude, and (e) increase your viewership as you continue spreading the V word.
Thanks for listening
Posted by ahimsa32fa at 02/29/16 05:46:06Perhaps it's the concept of "vegan friendly" that is the problem.
Is a business that serves a few vegan entrees really vegan friendly? I'd love to see an ad for a restaurant that says, "Animal friendly" meaning that it operates with concern for ALL animals (not just potential customers).
In other words, a 100% vegan restaurant is the ideal, not restaurants that want to be just a little vegan...they still support the meat and dairy industries. I get the point about educating meat-eaters by making them "aware" of vegan menu entrees, but isn't supporting those restaurants just a little like patronizing a business that sells cigarettes while advertising as "non-smoker friendly"?
Compromise can sometimes slow down needed change...
Posted by eric at 02/29/16 10:05:08Hi guys, I agree that more clarification would be useful, however, as we have it now it's already a lot to manage. Knowing these specifics about restaurants is challenging, but maintaining correct knowledge of such points over time is a nightmare.
It's important to note that the meaning of "Veg-friendly" on HappyCow relates to Vegan-Friendly. If a non-veg restaurant is not vegan-friendly it shouldn't be listed.
To me, "vegan-friendly" means that the business is making a conscious effort to accommodate vegans, and is not just offering a couple items which happen to be vegan. However, in some areas where there really is nothing else, we make exceptions.
Posted by DannyMac at 03/09/16 23:51:10Hi again. With the risk of sounding defensive, I will give it one last try. However, with only one member response I can see it is not an exciting or thought-provoking idea for many.
For me 'changing the world' started with taking cans of pineapple to pizzerias. People thought I was crazy, and two years later pizza restaurants would be embarassed NOT to carry pineapple. Next it was broccoli. Then it was deducting the price of one item for my negating cheese. Then it was asking EVERY TIME in restaurants for sour cream instead of butter. Veganism came much later for me. Now I ask for 'gluten-free everything, vegetarian everything, etc. After a while my voice sounds like hundreds to them, they have heard it so often. :)
To me, Yes, one additional restaurant developing a Vegetarian and Vegan friendly part of their menu would be a HUGE coup. The eventual end of McDonakds as we know it started with a veggie burger...then a salad...then vegetable oil. Small steps?...yup. Effective in the long run?...HUGELY!
Would I rather see a hundred restaurants changing to do this in my city, or one new Vegan restaurant?...or one new 'animal-friendly' restaurant? You guessed it! My ideals are 'immediately attainable positive goals'. Then build from there!
My big concerns are (a) the idea that 'we' are ever going to convince the world to stop eating or serving meat is idealistic and unrealistic - let alone in one fell swoop; (b) I do not believe for one minute - as a long-time Vegan and teacher of instructors in Nutrition and all things Fitness - that all humans were meant to be Vegan or could even survive as Vegans. Cut or eliminate red meat and milk?...absolutely. Reduce consumption of cholesterol?...hopefully. All live healthy lives as Vegans?...never.
I get along fine in a world full of Carnivores. I educate only those who ask - most of whom are only dipping their toes in the proverbal water. I support lots of issues that Veganism would help, including animal rights and carbon issues. ...but if I am educating someone on Veganism it is always health-related - THEIR health.
So, again I digress. If no one else cares, that is cool with me. ...and you certainly need to run your website your way, Eric. ...and ahimsa32fa I will support your desire to never set foot in or eat in a restaurant or home that is not 100% Vegan. However, my point is about attainable change - and I urge you to question how many people are long-time Veggies and Vegans who DO NOT support Vegan and Veg restaurants as a matter of course, because they are often overpriced, often lack variety, or simply have an 'unusual' menu. If you cannot get a Vegan of 30+ years to support them on a regular basis, what exactly is the goal other than a database of opinions?
If you take a poll maybe there ARE more people who were motivated by animal issues or carbon footprint issues to become Vegans than for health reasons - but I severly doubt it. So, that makes the US vs THEM argument quite extreme.
To close, and include both the person who did take the time to respond and Eric: we did not end smoking in restaurants unilaterally. First, you could only smoke in the last three rows on BUSSES AND AIRPLANES! (How unbelievable now?!). Then restaurants and theaters had 'smoking sections'. Eventually three of my old rules of thumb came true "People are only motivated by reward or punishment", and "Both regulation AND education are required for positive change", and "You don't fix crooked teeth with a hard smash in the mouth. It takes the right amount of pressure in the right direction for a long time". Most positive change comes that way!
So, Yes, little changes are good too! They may indeed be the only real effective ones in the end. I live in the second biggest country in the world. In a population of 35,000 people, with more Vegans and Vegetarians per capita than most other countries in the world, there is only one company that makes fresh-daily Gluten-Free Bread. Now, do I have lofty goals of trying to convince/educate/cajole the whole world into becoming Vegans? I think not. My goals are realistic and manageable - one baby step at a time. If I could educate five restaurants in my hood to have a proper Veg and Vegan section, I would find that a goid start. Yes, I'm still involved with animal issues worldwide (the last three months across SE Asia), feeding and educating the poor, reducing carbon footprints, etc. - but that was not what my topic was about at all. It was about 'carnivore' restaurants, and making positive changes one baby step at a time. ...or we could just picket them all and try to beat them into our way of thinking, I guess. :)
Now I would urge you to please read all four entries again. Whether your opinion has changed or you still feel exactly the same, I expect I have proven my point. Cheers.
Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/10/16 00:39:15Danny - I read this entire thread 3 times & I am still unclear about what you are asking for.
A key phrase, I think - ~ ......the addition of Vegan Friendly and Vegetarian Friendly classifications...... ~
There are 'notes' here - http://www.happycow.net/submitrestaurant.php - click - there are 2 steps to see them - 'Yes' - then click - 'Continue'.
Do you mean something like this?