After switching to a plant-based diet, you may be wondering if you have to give up all your favorite restaurants of your omnivorous past. The answer is a personal choice. There are many vegans and vegetarians in the world who cannot step foot into a restaurant that serves meat. The reasons range from the possibility of cross-contamination to just plain disgust. And that is completely understandable. 

After a while of being vegan, you will likely start to notice a stronger odor to the smell of meat. An odor that is not pleasant. For me, raw meat or the meat section in the grocery store makes my stomach uneasy. Cooked meat doesn’t smell as repulsive, but it’s still just not right. This perception of smell may have a lot to do with becoming aware and sensitive to what meat really is… animal flesh. Yep, dead animal flesh.

As horrible as that may sound, I am still okay with eating at restaurants that serve meat. In fact, I think every vegan/vegetarian SHOULD eat at restaurants that serve meat when a vegan option is available. Before you say anything, here are FIVE reasons why!

 

Your dollar is your vote and we need all the votes we can get for vegan options.

 We should know by now that in business, money is power. We show our support to businesses by purchasing their services and products. The more money we give, the more money they make, the more successful the business is. With that being said, I know many vegan/vegetarians may run at the thought of giving meat-serving restaurants their money, in support of that business. 

But restaurants usually look at their profit sheets in more detail. Instead of looking at the profits of the restaurant as a whole, restaurant owners will study the amount of revenue brought in by each menu item. From that, they often compare it to the cost of the ingredients to make that item. If a menu item is not making enough revenue to cover the cost associated, as well as make a profit for the restaurant, the menu item is usually cut from the menu. As we learned about the cost of plant-based diets, providing plant-based items on the menu may have a higher cost in comparison to the animal-based items. It is imperative that we spend our money on these vegan options, so they don’t get cut from the menu.  

 

Well, if we (vegans/vegetarians) just stop buying from the restaurant altogether, the restaurant will lose customers and it will have to shut down.

WRONG. 

Not purchasing the vegan option from these restaurants will not result in the shutdown of the restaurant, but rather the restaurant will stop offering vegan options.

Being effective in a push for a more “veganized” world requires us to face reality. We are a minority in comparison to meat eaters. Unfortunately, our refusal to eat at meat restaurants with vegan options will not make a substantial impact on the profits. There are still plenty of meat-eaters in the world to keep profits up. As stated above, this will only give the restaurants a reason to get rid of their vegan options.

Okay, we lose one restaurant. So what? If one restaurant doesn’t provide a vegan option, another one will.

WRONG again.

Research showing substantial consumption of vegan options will push other restaurants to have vegan options and some to open more vegan/vegetarian restaurants.

Companies use market research to determine whether a menu item will be successful. Yes, some of that market research includes testing and asking customers for comments. But, a lot of that research deals with studying the competition and studying the success of the same type of menu items at other restaurants. Companies need to know that if they put their money into creating a new item, they will get that money back ten-fold. 

If we do not buy the vegan options at the restaurants that are already serving them, other restaurants who may be contemplating offering a vegan option will be able to look at the failure of those restaurants and will decide a vegan option will not be profitable.

I was reminded of this when I found a petition for In-N-Out Burger to add a vegan burger to the menu. Though the idea is great (and I am fully supportive because I used to LOVE In-N-Out), I’m assuming In-N-Out corporate is looking to other fast food burger restaurants with vegan options to determine if this idea is profitable. If we are not already buying the vegan options at other similar fast food restaurants, In-N-Out will not have any incentive to add a vegan burger to the menu.

If we continue to buy the vegan options, not only will the restaurants see the value in offering these options, they may add more or change recipes for other menu items to make them vegan-friendly. Let’s take Chipotle for example. Chipotle’s Make-Your-Own concept for burritos, bowls, and tacos has always been a winner for vegan and vegetarians. However, until recently, Chipotle failed to offer a protein option for vegetarians and limited the bean option to black beans. (Pinto beans were cooked in pork.) The continued support of the vegan/vegetarian community created value in the eyes of Chipotle, so much so, the company has catered to this by making their pinto beans vegan-friendly and offering tofu as a vegan protein.

Well, if we just eat at specifically vegan/vegetarian restaurants, the market research will show that we need more of these restaurants.

This is true to an extent. Supporting vegan/vegetarian-specific restaurants will show an increased demand, but…

Eating at only vegan/vegetarian restaurants will not create a large enough impact.

Though the meatless population is growing fast, vegan/vegetarian restaurants are still considered a niche in the market. And since we are still a minority, our support for veg restaurants will not create a substantial impact on the dining market until we have grown our percentage of the population.

Remember, the dollar is running the show and it is unlikely that investors will put their money towards a niche market that may or may not make a profit. Buying and demanding vegan options at larger, more established markets (such as fast food and chain brands) will have a more substantial impact.

Now, I’m not at all advocating for us to stop eating at the veg restaurants. We have to continue to support these restaurants for the same reasons I have listed above. But, we can’t just count meat-serving, mainstream restaurants out. We have to keep pushing for these restaurants to provide vegan options.

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Eating vegan options at meat-serving restaurants can bring awareness to the non-veg

As a meat-eater, it is easy to assume that going vegan is too hard and requires you to stop eating many of your favorite foods or at your favorite restaurants. Seasoned vegan/vegetarians know this is not true and in fact, it is so simple to veganize so many different meals that it’s a shame that we even eat animal or their secretions at all.  

By eating out occasionally at these mainstream restaurants, we have a better chance of changing people’s views on veganism. We can make them aware that living a life without animal cruelty does not have to be a life of deprivation, as so many think it is.

We can show them that not only is vegan food easily accessible, it’s just as tasty. I especially love telling people that food they already enjoy is vegan. Like the Original Crust (not the thin crust) and marinara sauce at Papa John’s Pizza or, my favorite, Oreos. Yep, Oreos are vegan. 

Check out this list of foods that are accidently vegan!

 

The only way to make the transition to veganism easy is by making the whole world vegan. I am sure that change will come, but in the meantime, we have to support every bit of change we can get. Even if that change comes in the form of a veggie burger, bean soup, or tofu strips at a meat-serving restaurant.


In the comments below:

What are your favorite vegan options at meat-serving restaurants?

Are you a vegan that refuses to go to restaurants that serve meat. Share why.