The Number 1 Mistake Vegans Make At Restaurants

by / Tuesday, 19 May 2015 / Published in Activism, Lifestyle, vegan
When Phil first went vegan he made so many fucking mistakes. And this video covers the mistakes he made, and a few other vegans still make today, while at restaurants.

Matt never made these mistakes. Be like him. Don’t do this shit! EVER!

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  • Lauren Baker


  • Ash K.

    I agree with this. The most I’ll usually ask is if there’s meat in this sauce or if there’s cheese on that… relatively benign things that, if there WERE those things, I just wouldn’t think the dish was yummy, really!
    I cringe when I’m eating out with my mom and I say, “yeah, could I just get that without the cheese? Thanks.” And my mom chimes in “because she’s a VEEEGAN”. -_-
    But I completely agree with your video. Also, ordering things like veggie burgers and other probably-ok items helps show the demand for those things, which is always good!

    • Jenny

      My mom does that stuff too, it’s rather annoying. My husband always says I am allergic because that makes sure I don’t get sick from any milk, cheese, meat or animal products being in the food.

  • Zumba Izzy

    Exactly!! I’m so pleased to hear you guys saying this. The thing that really drives the meat, fish, dairy industry, etc… is money. It’s when you actually hand over the money for that steak, or burger, or whatever – that’s keeps the meat industry going and perpetuates the cruelty. This nasty industry isn’t going to be receiving any money from me if, say, the griddle that cooked some meat also happened to cook my veggie burger. But if I whine about it.. well everyone at my table will probably order a larger steak just because they’re feeling defensive, or p**d off with me, or whatever… completely defeating the object of my vegan meal. Love your videos guys 🙂

  • Sue Sargent

    Not a lot of vegan options in resteraunts but it’s very slowly getting better! I don’t mind eating out with friends and family and their hoeing into a piece of animal while I’m having a vegan style salad that I’ve had made to order. They always say how is it and I say it’s yum! To be nice I say how is yours even tho I don’t want to know but I’m being nice 😉 I am tho thinking how can they! And It upsets me but don’t show it…

  • AGREED! But – Haha – the people I eat out with (meat-eaters) ask the servers for me! And then take great delight in telling me I can’t eat so and so cos it has egg/cream/cheese in it and in telling me that basically I can’t eat anything and that’s why I shouldn’t be vegan. It goes two ways: you can stay quiet and risk facing the wrath from fellow meat-eaters when/if they figure out there’s an animal product in the meal you’ve ordered or you can face the wrath of asking the server what’s in the food. I just try and eat out at places that are nice/cater to vegans – and if they’re not or I get THAT judge vibe, I get my husband to ask. Or pretend I have allergies! Lol. 😉

  • Michael Demmons

    My friend, who’s been a vegan for 20 years, told me to look at the menu. If something looks vegan, ask about it and order it if the waiter says it is. For example, when I go to an Asian restaurant, I will ask if XYZ has fish sauce in it. If the waiter says no, I order it. It’s sort of a “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” policy. If you spend your entire life worrying that some minute animal product gets into your body, you’re going to be miserable as a vegan.

    I eat almost entirely vegan, but if I eat a piece of cake that I thought was vegan and it turns out to have had eggs in it, I’m not going to be sick or make others miserable about it. I’m just going to keep being a vegan.

    How do you know if someone is vegan?
    Don’t worry. They’ll fucking let you know.

    ^^^^^ Don’t be that person ^^^^^

  • Pauline Yearwood

    I don’t completely agree. I don’t see anything wrong with vegans asking polite respectful questions in restaurants. It is also a form of education. I have met restaurant employees, for instance, who believe that vegan and gluten free are the same thing. They seem to take it in when I respectfully tell them it is not. But then I am an older person & try & speak very gently to everyone (they don’t have to know I am actually a militants abolitionist). Maybe that makes a difference.

  • Aubrie VeganRose Keegan

    Honestly though, I agree with the concept that many Vegans need to relax a little. That being said, I’ve blatantly been told by people that an item I wanted was fully plant-based, only to find out later that it had butter in it. We’re not doing anyone any good if people don’t even understand that butter is dairy, and dairy comes from nonhuman animals. In addition to it being a problem for me AND the animals, there are times where others have serious allergies and may in fact become ill if they consume said item. In my experience, this sort of situation is not isolated. Kindly asking someone to check if something has animal based ingredients is not a bad thing–why wouldn’t they want to know? This could easily broaden their audience. In fact, I handle hundreds of supplements and need to be able to answer questions for people on whether or not certain ingredients are in the supplements, or if they are manufactured in the way they feel safest with. This is called customer service, and although in some instances it gets to be like “does that really matter?” it’s not up to me to decide. It’s up to me to make sure the customer has what they want, and if something becomes problematic solve the issue in succinct, kind, healthful way.

    Anyways, that’s my two cents! 🙂

    • Aubrie VeganRose Keegan

      One last thing: they wouldn’t balk if someone with a serious allergy were asking, would they? So why does this compassion end because I happen to make a choice to live compassionately?

  • Crysta Schmidt

    I always call the restaurant before I go at a time that I don’t think they will be busy – and have their menu in front of me. I don’t want to be THAT douche at the table.. already knowing what I’m going to order saves the hassle:)

  • Kim Benson-Custard

    So personally my husband always likes to ask, do you have anything Vegan? Because it kind of puts a bug in their ear that there are people at their restaurant that have a demand for vegan food. They’ll be more likely to offer or consider it if people are asking for it. Additionally, they better damn well be okay with telling anyone if there is dairy in a dish: A. It’s an allergen, and B. If you’ve been Vegan long enough, and there’s hidden dairy in your food, you’re going to find out and not in a very fun way (eventually we all become lactose intolerant, it’s natural). I agree you don’t have to be a pretentious dick though. Even though my hubby always asks, he’s also ridiculously friendly, always leaves a good tip and then gets remembered by staff and servers who are happy to see him again and fix any issues we may come upon.

    • I find “Do you have anything vegan?” a more direct approach and can be quite effective in getting the message across that there s a market for more whole fresh foods and vegan ingredients. Or I would hint to say that it would taste equally yummy with cold-treated coconut or olive oil as they don’t really make customers fat.

  • Brendon Clark

    So you think we should give up on basic morals to appeal to the necorvores of the world? Sure I bet many vegans are 100 % all about being vegan and pushy too! But you suggest we dull our awesomeness down instead of educating the ignorant masses I don’t agree with that! Its their actions that are extreme and guess what!I couldn’t give a fuck less what anybody thinks of me ! I’m here for the care of all sentient beings you vegan bros seem to care way too much about how you look to others! Like seriously are you going to tell a flamboyant homosexual to calm it the fuck down because some bible toting cavemen can’t get with the times ? Unbelievable !

    • Brendon, we agree. People shouldn’t roll their eyes or get all upset just because you don’t want any animal products in your food.

      And it’s messed up that scientific research shows that we are more persuasive to others when they find us likable. It’s messed up, but it’s reality.

      So the question is, do you care about animals enough not to grill your server or fuss about minute animal ingredients? Or do you care more about remaining personally pure?

      Do you care more about the animals or your personal purity?

      • Rebecca Burke

        Could not agree MORE Vegan Bros. Brendon Clark, I am sure your righteous indignation and ego are doing more harm than good. You clearly care more about your personal purity than the animals.

      • Vegan Fluff

        Kindly share your scientific research resources/journal articles for review. Thank you.

  • Kelsey James Brennaman

    Keep up the good work flip!

  • ZAE

    I disagree completely. Being vegan is the most positive action I take in life, and it is an action, not some passive fashion statement that I have to dance around to protect someone from being slightly annoyed. It is first and foremost about the animals but, why can’t my “personal purity” be a factor too? I don’t want animal flesh or by-products in my body. Period. I’m not going to compromise. Especially not to appease peoples fragile sensibilities about what they find irritating. It shouldn’t irritate anyone if I’m polite when I inquire about ingredients and leave a healthy tip for good service. What am I doing wrong? I shouldn’t have to eat even trace amounts of animal blood and fat just to protect myself from someones misdirected judgement. I’m offended by people eating meat but I don’t stand over them at the dinner table chastising them. Why should I fear someone judging me for not eating animal products? That’s just weak.

    • Greg Stevens

      I like your thinking. Push forward in action for us all. I plan ahead. Where can I get away with questions about the menus, finicky details when ordering? It’s righteous to ask, tiresome to deal with confusion and ignorance.

  • Kate

    Hi guys, I see what you’re saying. I’ve heard an opposing opinion however. By speaking up at a restaurant and asking for animal free food you’re creating more awareness that vegan food is in demand. As long as you ask about it in a nice way, don’t hassle your waiter/ress then I think it’s more important to ask than not to ask.

    • Bink

      Agree 110%!

    • Roswalien

      Or you make yourself out to be a giant pain in the ass. I am pretty much the only vegan in my town. The waiter and I both know it is not in demand. I would fool no one. The only time I ever order food with animal products (never meat) is when I rat out. I have had waffles,veggies cooked in whatever they cook them in (maybe butter maybe not), and bread (maybe milk, maybe eggs, maybe both). I completely agree with the bros. The wait staff is irritated enough at my request of fajitas with no meat, sour cream, or cheese and for no re-fried beans and extra rice. I will not also ask for them to clean the grill first and to not use butter. I order this at almost every restaurant I go to. I already think my order is too complicated and I may just deal with the beans. There are mistakes on my order 2/3 of the time because of the pickiness. If they make a mistake most of the time I’ll just eat it…of course I’m not “really” vegan, so…

      I really like the idea of asking if they have anything vegan, but I know they don’t, so I don’t tend to bother. It also makes being vegan sound like a dietary restriction so I just make whatever they have available work.

      • Greg Stevens

        I feel your pain. Sorry. Compromises are inevitable, especially in social situations. If I were out by myself I could walk away in disgust. With family and friends I make it work, somehow. Most places can serve undressed lettuce and I’ve made this work so many times…

  • Lisa Mair

    I actually never thought of it that way. Maybe I’ll stop being so annoying now! :-0

  • VeggieTart

    I’ve heard it called “vegan diplomacy”. While I would rather not eat food cooked in the same fryer as meat foods, I will. I try not to worry overmuch about the bread and avoid the most obvious non-vegan things.

  • lexvegan

    The #1 thing is that if they screw up your custom order, just pay for it and say “can you do another one w/o what ever it was they slipped up?” & say this one looks amazing & I’ll take it to go & then feed it to a friend, dog, homeless person, what ever.

  • Luxxe

    I don’t give a fuck what restaurateurs think. I don’t want my clean food grilled in old pig fat. Matt and Phil you are just Appeasers. Watch a rerun of Fawlty Towers, and check whether you really want to be the WWII Stanley Baldwins and Neville Chamberlains of the vegan world! You’re being cowardly but disguising it as “marketing”. Marketing is meant to be innovative and brave.

  • Susan Sharp

    I’d say the easiest thing to do is know the menu. With technology today that is not hard and there is always something you can eat. Doing research on how things are cooked and make with the best way to know what you can and can’t order.The only question that I do ask is if things are cooked on the same grill. But the more you don’t mention things the more people are comfortable around you and you can lead by example. I tell everyone that respects what i’m doing that I appreciate them and this really helps people open up better instead of being defensive.

  • Megan Parkins

    I think I love you guys!

  • Katherine Domsky

    Totally fucking agree. *non-annoying vegan high five*…

  • Dina V Kourda

    I get the point but disagree. Purity is not my goal however I do not want to consume any dairy or eggs for various reasons. So, I do ask if the oatmeal contains any milk, if the grits contain butter, and if the veggie burger/bun contain any cheese or eggs. I want restaurants/servers to be educated and understand what vegan food is instead of offering me something gluten-free as if that’s even a response to, “what do you have that’s vegan?”

  • EyeHateGod

    Love it, but I have just as many servers that are men. The feminist in me just had to point that out.

  • Monica V Lucas

    Sure, this is what veganism has turned into – fitting in, being nice, and looking cool. Wow. Turning a personal commitment not to exploit animals by consuming them into some endeavor at “purity,” to make it sound selfish. Let’s all compromise the definition of veganism so that we can all be popular. Bravo.

  • Karen Lauderback

    I understand what you’re saying, but on the flip side I have seen meat eaters be VERY demanding when ordering food. I had someone flip out because we mistakenly included pasta in her salad – on the side – not even ON it. I think there is no harm in asking questions, but agree there is a point where it can be overdone. At the same time, non-vegan people can be educated on what is important to those who follow this lifestyle. Years ago (many years ago) at California Pizza Kitchen I asked if a particular pizza was vegetarian and was told, “Yes, there is only chicken in it”. There is a middle ground on both sides.

  • th1nkfirst

    I think you are adorable!

  • Katia Burke-Pappas

    I will say I’m in the middle ground. I don’t usually ask about bread or where something is cooked, just if they use butter or oil and if there is egg in the veggie burger. If I was that concerned about trace animal products I would only eat at home or 100% vegan restaurants (and there are none in Kalamazoo). A good server should have no problem with a polite request about dairy and eggs because they are common allergens. And I always tip higher if I ask.

  • Kelley Rice

    So I see both sides. My solution has been reviewing menus in advance and if need be, calling the restaurant in advance. I’ll say over the phone that I’m vegan, and to make it less stressful for my server, I wanted to find out in advance what
    my options are. They are almost always
    very nice about this. That lets the restaurant know there is a demand without
    putting my actual server on the spot.
    So when I arrive, I’m pretty prepared.
    I’m certainly not a purest grilling them on cooking methods and bun
    ingredients though. And I if I have questions
    at the restaurant, I usually say “I can’t eat egg or dairy” versus using the
    word vegan – only because I find that word is charged and can annoy people. I’ve had bits of meat/dairy in my food that I
    swear was put there on purpose when I use that word. I prefer to just be vague about it.

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  • Roswalien

    My thoughts and actions exactly. 🙂

  • Greg Stevens

    Restaurants aren’t the proving ground for vegans. Nor is the grocery store. Not even the dinner table. It’s the plate. What I eat is my business.

  • Rebecca

    I don’t know – this argument is based on the assumption that when you ask some of these questions you are being a rude annoying a**hole. I think there is a way to inquire and just be cool about it and not make a big deal. Smile and say hi to your server. Tip them well. Ask what you want but say it in a nice way, and don’t ask 100 questions and be conscious if the restaurant is busy. Consider writing the restaurant afterwards with tips about how they can add vegan options and tell them you would support that and bring your whole vegan meetup there! Realize that you are in a non-vegan place the staff might be harried and the information you need limited – but don’t ever think you shouldn’t go for the GOLD and not have your meal be as vegan as you can get it. This isn’t about personal purity but you should not have to put crap in your body that you don’t want there. Having been a waitress for years, I can assure you that omnivore-pushy-a**hole customers outnumber vegan-pushy-a**hole customers 100 to 1 – – but I do get what you are saying; we have to set a higher example. However it is part of a restaurants job to know their ingredients (forget vegans – there are people with allergies that can have serious health issues if they eat the wrong thing) and in this day and age, we can help these establishments know what vegans are about. Just be nice, people. That is what it is about, not the questions you ask. Let’s face it, it is not the most fun job being a waiter – I had a guy yell at me once that the cup of tea I bought him was too hot. So understanding that, be the friendliest nicest customer your server has had all day. They’ll give you better service and you can enjoy your dang food, no matter what you ordered. Thanks for the forum on this.

  • Jessica Spicher

    While I understand what you guys are saying, you’re leaving out one key element that vegans SHOULD do instead. CALL AHEAD! If you plan out going out to eat and call the restaurant at a less busy time the person who answers the phone should be able to handle all your questions in a far more relaxed manner. I’ve never had a problem when I call ahead, and then when I get to the restaurant I know what I’m going to order. Sometimes the chef might offer to whip something up for you. 🙂 Then when you actually come in TIP YOUR SERVER VERY WELL! Show them how appreciative you are for them ensuring your dietary restrictions were adhered to!

  • Lauren

    When there is a demand for something from society these restaurants will change their ways. I’ve worked in restaurants for 15 yrs so I seen this change in many places.
    Changes can include a separate flat top grill for veggie burgers, separate fryer for non meat items, a spot on the grill for veggie burgers and such.
    If we keep quiet it won’t change! That’s like saying, fuck it, I’m not going to educate people on vegainisn cause it’ll distrupt their life. Nah. That’s not what we’re trying to do right now.
    Places I’ve seen and worked at that have changed the game is places like cpk (they have separate cutting utensils and everything), White Castle (they cook the veggie burgers completely separate), chipotle, and so on. You get the point.
    We need to be the voices to change the game. If no on speaks up… Nothing changes. And if things change it’ll be easier to be vegan. More people will see!

  • Gecko13

    Late to the party, and overall I tend to agree. That said- I make a point of ordering meatless options and then asking about whether it has dairy without necessarily mentioning anything about veganism. I have actually had waitstaff LIGHT UP when they discover I’m vegan by asking and then they offer me more Options or warn me about hidden ingredients like butter, chicken stock and honey on their own accord. If I’m really struggling I google the menu/nutrition facts online if I can avoid asking. At some restaurants I do lie and say I have a dairy allergy and sometimes the manager is required to deliver the meal personally from the kitchen. They for some reason seem STOKED about this in my experience. Makes them feel boss or something. By now I know where I can’t go and where I can finagle something. At this point people have so many weird diet restrictions that if you’re annoyed- waiting tables is a bad job for you. My advice- be polite, do as much research without asking and ask only if you have to, and tip WELL. Make a point to thank the shit out of anyone who accommodates you and ESPECIALLY if they go out of their way. That way you spread good vibes and ppl are more likely to think veganism is chill. Oh, and keep mixed nuts in your purse for emergencies.

  • Zuza Hicks

    I love you guys but I also disagree. I’ve had many servers at restaurants talk to me about wanting to go vegeterian/vegan or being one themselves and we instantly connected. They have to know I’m vegan first though:)

  • Helen Bauer Gaynor

    You are right. I always tell people ‘ I eat everything you eat but it’s plant based’.