Dining out is always a matter of trust

As you can tell by the number of restaurant reviews on our blog, we have visited quite a lot of restaurants over the years. Yes, even as vegans (I stress this because some people think that is impossible) and even in restaurants where at first glance this may not be so obvious.
Yes, we have had some bad experiences. I’m not referring to the the rabbitfood that we’ve sometimes been served, but to dishes that are not vegan. For example a dish containg oystersauce, although explicitly labelled on the menu as vegetarian (and yes, also having checked whether it didn’t contain any eggs or dairy). But on most occasions, we have enjoyed a vegan menu. At least that is what we think (and hope)!

Dining out always involves a risk. One can try to minimise that risk, for example by clearly informing the restaurant beforehand on what vegan means, explaining what you do and do not eat. But nevertheless, the risk that some dishes may contain animal ingredients cannot be taken away completely.

Although we realise that dining out always involves some degree of risk, we still like eating out

Dining out with a reassuring feeling greatly comes down to trust (not only for vegan matters, but also for hygiene matters and the use of quality products). And unfortunately sometimes that trust is breached. We’re under no illusion that all the food that we have been served at restaurants has always been vegan. Despite having asked for a vegan menu and clearly mentioning what that means, and it being communicated to us as being vegan when served.
These mistakes may have occured by accident, because the chef did not check certain products for animal ingredients, or maybe because he does not realise that using cow or chicken stock is not okay. Or perhaps because some think that a ‘little bit of egg’ or ‘a little bit of honey’ does not matter, or maybe – perhaps even worse – when they knowingly and intentionally use animal products, thinking that the client will not be able to tell the difference. I sincerely hope that such instances are far and few between, although it cannot be ruled out completely. Just the fact of making a special request (vegan) is sometimes enough to have the food treated ‘specially’.
It always makes me think of this video of ‘Le petit Chef‘, although I hope this is more fiction than reality!

 

Despite the realisation that dining out always involves a risk, and requires placing trust in the catering staff, we still go out for dinner. Because we like discovering new places. Because it is a pleasant surprise to discover a chef who sees it as an exciting challenge to make a vegan menu, who puts in the effort and presents a culinary delight. If nobody ever asks for a vegan menu, the catering industry does not know there is demand for it, and they will not adjust their offer and include vegan options.

Do you trust that everything is vegan when dining out? Or maybe you prefer to not go dining out anymore?

lasagne
vegan lasagne at Restaurant Réliva, Bruges

 

Smoked seitan with carrots and sjalots, 17,5€
Smoked seitan with carrots and sjalots, restaurant Mykene, Leuven

 

Le petit chef, 1998, UK ad for playstation
Le petit chef, 1998, UK ad for playstation

Based on a post I previously published on my Dutch blog: op restaurant gaan is een kwestie van vertrouwen.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. No. I don’t trust restaurants. But that doesn’t keep us from dine out, although we rarely do. Regardless, one should never, never be rude to the staff. 🙂

  2. BTW, the video was quite revolting, but humorous in a sick sort of way.

    1. brugesvegan says:

      It’s better not to think of this video too much while waiting to be served in a restaurant 😉

  3. Meghan says:

    Found your site through wanderingwives. This is such an interesting post. I eat out infrequently but when I do I will default to salad with oil and vinegar precisely because I don’t have trust. However, if I get a gut feeling that they can make a real vegan dish or whatever the case may be and I decide to order something else then I will just accept that it’s going to be out of my control at this point. But, you are completely correct in that if people don’t ask for things specially prepared then restaurants won’t feel pressured to offer vegan food. Thank you for an interesting and thought-provoking post.

    1. brugesvegan says:

      I completely understand. It’s very rare that we enter a restaurant ‘out of the blue’ (that is, without having had prior communication about what vegan means, and getting confirmation they can handle a vegan menu). Unless they of course have vegan options standardly available.
      And even then things can go wrong (for example in vegetarian restaurants, where some think ‘ a little bit of egg’ doesn’t matter).
      But the more vegans speak out in restaurants, the more knowledgeable catering staff will become and the more options they will offer (let’s hope 😉

    1. brugesvegan says:

      Schitterend! 🙂 ziet er goed uit!
      Bedankt om me te laten weten, heb het gedeeld via mijn Nederlandstalige FB pagina, veggieleven !

  4. Helga says:

    I don’t trust it always, but I will still eat out. Because I like eating out and don’t want to miss it just because I may eat something non vegan. I accept the risk, knowing it mostly won’t do harm if I do eat something non vegan. Apart from that, it’s a good thing that restaurants receive request for vegan food of course.

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