Saturday, 24 May 2014

Vegan Restaurants VERSUS Non Vegan Restaurants PART 1

A few weeks ago I did receive an email from my friend Mike from San Diego. Mike currently is actively supporting vegan restaurants and with arguments he urges other vegans to eat in, and so support, vegan restaurants, and not to spend your limited restaurant money in non vegan restaurants.

Some well meaning  vegans argue that we should “support” non vegan restaurants which serve vegan dishes. By “support” they mean that we actively have to go and eat there, and this way, so goes the argument, we are promoting veganism and veganizing non vegan restaurants.

I recently had a modest interview with Ingrid Newkirk (it should be published over two months in GoVeg, i will post a link later). Oddly enough she also urges vegans to spread veganism by eating veggie burgers at McDonalds and even buying McDonalds veggie burgers for your friends and colleagues.
I understand the logic behind it but it is a faulty and wishful thinking kinda logic, not uncommon amongst vegans I might add.

Eating at the enemy in order to support your cause is very noble, but also very naïve, it simply doesn’t work that way. You don’t promote veganism by eating a veggie burger in the McDonalds. A dollar spend at a non vegan restaurant is a dollar not spend in a vegan restaurant. Eating at McDonalds means an empty seat at a vegan restaurant. And empty seats eventually means the vegan restaurant has to close. That is a fact, not a pink unicorn. And guess what? I prefer empty seats in McDonalds over empty seats in a vegan restaurant.
As Mike says it, “the restaurant business is brutal”. Your money counts, so invest it wisely, I would like to add.

In his email Mike has both ethical arguments as well as practical arguments why we vegans should spend our dollars in a vegan restaurant.

If we vegans should eat and spend our money in a non vegan restaurant or in a vegan restaurant (by definition you cannot visit and spend your money at the same time at BOTH restaurants, so it is an “OR” kind of thing, not an “AND” kind of thing.) seems not a small issue to me. 

So here is Mike’s email and his thoughts on the subject. In a next and separate article I will give my opinion and my experience (I had a vegan café for 4 years), and a surprising fact from the restaurant industry themselves WHY they add veg options at the menu.

Mike starts his email with his latest project of making a calendar with vegan restaurants of San Diego. I have omitted that first part.

Dear Veg Friends,

The restaurant business is brutal. Brave vegan restaurateurs have ethically chosen to limit their audience at the cost of potential profits. They need our support to stay in business. Many of you experienced the shock of Casa de Luz abruptly closing its doors in December followed by Stephanie’s Bakery in January. Let’s not let another vegan establishment fail!

If you agree that the best use of your limited restaurant dollars going forward is to patronize only 100% vegan restaurants, great! If not, read on for more reasons and for tips on dealing with potential social backlash should you take this r/evolutionary step.

Working together towards a vegan world!

Advantages of Patronizing Only 100% Vegan Restaurants

* No worries or questions about hidden animal ingredients.
* No mix-ups of being inadvertently served animal foods.
* No cross-contamination of kitchen and cooking surfaces.
* No one will be hurting (eating) animals in your presence.

The unpleasant truth is that non-vegan restaurants are sanitized extensions of the slaughterhouse. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson: “You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”
That includes vegetarian restaurants, since egg & dairy operations are inherently crueler than meat production. Layer hens and dairy cows suffer for years then are killed for meat anyway—no one gets out alive.

You wouldn’t attend a dog/cock/bull fight, so why attend an event where people entertain themselves by eating animals?

By patronizing only vegan restaurants, you’ll no longer experience the cognitive dissonance (distress caused by contradictory thoughts) of dining with normally kind and compassionate family and friends while they blissfully consume animal foods.

When my wife, Anita, and I moved to downtown San Diego, I made it my new goal to help “veganize” some of the 90 or so restaurants within walking distance of our condo. I called ahead to see if chefs could/would prepare vegan meals for us. The vast majority were willing and eager to meet the challenge. A few chefs would even visit our table to see how we liked the food and encourage us to come back again.

After about 7 years of “educating” downtown restaurants, although there were more cruelty-free menu options, there still was NOT one vegan restaurant within walking distance of our condo. So last summer, after some unpleasant personal experiences in non-vegan restaurants, I decided to switch gears.

My new goals became to:

1. Use my restaurant dollars to support and promote only 100% vegan restaurants.
2. Persuade existing vegetarian restaurants to become fully vegan.
3. Start a campaign to encourage a vegan establishment, preferably a “fine dining” one, to open downtown.

Unsurprisingly, I faced resistance from some who’d come to appreciate my “tolerance” of their unkind dietary habits, especially since I’d mostly given up trying to convince them of the horror of their ways. A couple of the more stubborn ones have declined some invitations to eat in vegan restaurants, resentful that I’m “forcing” my ways on them. But every time family or friends agree to join me for a meal, no animals get hurt.

Nowadays, I leave it to other activists to convince non-vegan restaurants to offer more cruelty-free options—still a worthy goal. 

Mike's website :

1 comment:

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