A critical note about vegan (friendly) places? Don’t you dare!

This is a comment that often comes up on vegan forums when somebody gives a negative comment about a vegan (friendly) place. You shouldn’t criticise them! You should be supportive. At least they are making an effort, don’t be so negative. They need our love and support, not criticism.

The reasoning behind it is that these vegan (friendly) places already have a hard time surviving in a predominantly non-vegan catering world, and we should not be making it any harder on them, but only encourage them and support them, and as such, not criticise them.

Of course we support vegan places and wish them the best and try to visit as many of these places as we can! We hope their numbers will increase rapidly in the future. Whenever we see a new vegan place opening, we are excited to go try it out and we give it our support. And when non-vegan places start offering vegan options, we encourage their efforts! We have had plenty of positive experiences over the years and have documented them in our reviews.

egg plant
Lovely appetizer at Hortus, The Hague (Netherlands)

But just the fact of being a vegan business or offering vegan options, does not mean we will lower our treshold for standard of food or service, and applaud them uncritically. In our reviews, we do not turn a blind eye for possible shortcomings in service, comfort or opening hours.

Informed by a professional attitude, the catering bussiness will thankfully take the critical comments – whether it be regarding the food, service, comfort or atmosphere – into consideration and look into ways to raise the bar.

Is everything ok? You haven't photographed your food
Is everything ok? You haven’t photographed your food

Maybe the bar should even be raised higher for vegan places, since non-vegans visiting such places are likely more skeptical or even unforgiving of any mishaps just because it is a vegan place.
Also, If vegans univocally applaud these places and keep possible minor points under wraps, that produces a very distorted view. It also unrealistically sets high expectations for readers of such unilateral reviews. One ends up going there with (non-vegan) friends expecting to have a fantastic experience, and it turns out to be not quite what you had expected based on the ravissant and wonderful (but onesided) reviews.
It backfires in the long run and possibly leads to disappointment. And the non-vegan company will surely question the standard of vegan places, if this was supposedly a ‘good one’.

That is why it is very important to honestly share your dining out experiences, good and bad.
We try to be honest and fair in our reviews, whether the business is vegan or not, we try to apply the same standards. Informed by a professional attitude, the catering bussiness will thankfully take the critical comments – whether it be regarding the food, service, comfort or atmosphere – into consideration and look into ways to raise the bar. Aiming to enhance their overall quality, and to improve customer satisfaction in the future.

vegan tapas platter, £24,50
One of the best dishes we ever had on restaurant (a starter!): tapas platter at Terre à Terre, Brighton (UK)

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny says:

    Really interesting post. I often feel a bit worried about leaving any slightly negative comments on my blog or on Happy Cow, because I don’t want to seem ungrateful towards their efforts. I think there have been two occasions when I’ve left 2 star reviews on Happy Cow and I had to check with my boyfriend that I wasn’t being too mean. You’re right though, that reviews should still be fair and take service, cleanliness, taste, etc into account.

    As soon as I saw that picture at the bottom, I thought it must be Terre a Terre! That sharing plate is the best.

    1. brugesvegan says:

      Our dinner at Terre a Terre in Brighton was one of the best restaurant experiences we ever had! Would love to go again there one day!
      https://brugesvegan.com/2015/09/20/terre-a-terre-brighton-uk/

  2. Great post! I totally agree, keep up the constructive criticism!

  3. densington says:

    “But just the fact of being a vegan business or offering vegan options, does not mean we will lower our treshold for standard of food or service, and applaud them uncritically.”

    Trudi, I very very much agree with you! I think we all have our standards and we should never lower them. Of course, I also appreciate all the vegan businesses and their effort. But the fact of being a vegan business does not automatically mean that the food, service or anything else about it is great too. And most importantly, I think we should all be allowed to talk about what we do not like about a restaurant for example. Because that’s the only way they can improve, make their future customers happier and reach a bigger audience in the end. So, I very much share your opinion 😉 Great post!

    1. brugesvegan says:

      Thanks for your feedback Dennis! And thanks for sharing the article on FB 🙂

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