Skip to content

On Being Vegan “Friendly”

The Factual table I posted yesterday annoyed me a bit, and here's why: the categories "vegan," "vegetarian," and "vegan-friendly."

Vegan: Got it. I can order anything on the menu without having to ask any questions.

Vegetarian: At least it doesn't say "vegetarian-friendly," as Ruths Chris Steakhouse is vegetarian-friendly in that you can probably get a baked potato with butter and sour cream, sauteed vegetables drizzled with cheese, and a salad with Ranch dressing at every one of them. Whether or not vegetarians equate that fact with "friendly" is a different story–it's the people at the establishment who think they're being "friendly." Vegetarian, I assume, serves no flesh but does serve other, equally disturbing animal products.

Which brings me to . . .

Vegan-friendly: I remember going to Morton's Steakhouse in Chicago a bunch of years ago with a client of my husband's and ordering a plain baked potato, grilled asparagus with lemon, and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It was a fabulous vegan meal. Anyone who goes to Morton's knows that the server brings out a huge tray that includes entire carcasses of smaller animals (I recall a lobster) and large chunks of flesh to choose from. Mind you, that ritual is no different from walking into any restaurant that serves animals, smelling their flesh burn, and then sitting next to friends as they chomp on said flesh. My point is that being surrounded by the sights and smells of death and suffering isn't what I'd call "friendly" to me as a vegan.

And when I go to a vegetarian restaurant and smell cheese and butter–and I do smell those things quite distinctly and have never liked those smells–I don't consider that "friendly."

So what does "vegan-friendly" really mean? That they have items on the menus, or will make items, that contain no animal products? I assume that's what it means. And by that definition, Morton's and Ruths Chris are both "vegan-friendly." Last I checked, they don't market themselves that way, though.

When you search the Factual table for vegan restaurants, you also get "vegan-friendly" restaurants, which is funny as you're essentially getting restaurants for vegans and restaurants for omnivores, which in my mind aren't all that "friendly" to my belief that it's not right to use sentient nonhumans as food (or as covering for chairs, which are likely present at restaurants for omnivores).

This is what happens when you ask someone with a background in linguistics to comment on a project. Headaches ensue.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Crystal #

    I think for a place to be vegan or vegetarian friendly it has to have a section of the menu labeled as vegetarian or advertise that it has vegetarian/vegan options. It would also have to be a place that isn't all about animal products, like a noodle place.

    As a rule American chain restaurants are all about big portions of meat, and almost all fail painfully at having vegan options. Not to mention that usually the vegetarian option is pasta hold the chicken, or something like that.

    September 22, 2009

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS