I enjoy vegan shops and restaurants so much because I can exhale, not having to read labels, knowing that everything is actually vegan and I can just buy what I want.
On the flip side, I was surprised by how laissez-faire the attitude was at a restaurant I visited in Brugge, recently.
I went in solely because they had multiple signs in the window, listing their vegan options. (It was near the end of a 2-week European adventure where I hadn't actually gone to any all-vegan restaurants. My husband is not veg'n. I was getting kind of desperate to be able to just sit down and order with confidence. The previous two weeks had been filled with too many bowls of greens with balsamic vinegar, or me eating an apple with some Brazil nuts.)
But, when I went in, the server was almost surprised that I wanted only vegan food, not vegetarian. There were, in fact, only 2, limited, prix fixe vegan dinner options (both of which included vegetarian options??). And while it may have been a temporary problem, there was no vegan dessert option available that night. (The substitute "vegan" dessert alternative turned out to contain ghee...which they told me about beforehand, so 'good', in that sense.) (It was the second time during my meal I was asked if vegetarian would be okay. I simply replied that the entire reason I came to the restaurant was the VEGAN signs.)
While I was thrilled to support a restaurant offering (promoting, even) vegan food, I left rather disappointed. Ultimately, I got all three of the vegan tapas-type options that were available, plus the soup. No real decision-making. That was all they had that was actually vegan. I would've had more options (from the vegan menu???) if I were vegetarian. Weird.
Posted by ahimsa32fa at 10/25/14 09:03:13It's always good to ask.
It's amazing how many restaurant owners, managers and staff still don't know what "vegan" is!
And ask about sources, etc. A few years back, some friends and I asked a waitress if they served any fresh veggies.
"Oh, yes", she assured us, "fresh from the can."
She was quite serious!
Posted by AllyG at 11/02/14 01:03:45I guess vegetarian is more mainstream than vegan. I get annoyed with the 'v' symbol which can be vegetarian or can be vegan.
I've asked if there were any vegan options on a menu in Hawaii and was given the gluten free menu! That was a hard holiday too, we ate at the same place three times because of the limited vegan options elsewhere. Our two hotels had no vegetarian options let alone vegan.
Let's hope as vegan ism becomes more known, hospitality industry steps up too.
Posted by wedigfood at 11/02/14 11:58:18I agree with AllyG , vegetarian is much more mainstream than vegan. I usually have to explain the difference and/or just tell them what I can eat as opposed to what I can't. Lots of times I just ask for sautéd vegetables and brown rice, although many places still just carry white rice.