On Vegan Devastation at PF Chang’s
From VegCooking, courtesy of PeTA:
The vegan-friendly attitude of P.F. Chang's is largely due to the number of requests that management receives for meatless cuisine. Vegan dishes are among the bestsellers. One manager told PETA Eats that most people prefer the vegetarian lettuce wraps over those with chicken. Wok-seared tofu, red onions, and water chestnuts with hints of mint and lime and served with cool lettuce leaves are a combination that few can turn down.
Balderdash, I tell you!
Oh, the humanity! There I was, going to lunch with newbie vegan, Cristy, who is terrified of restaurants since going vegan.
M: Oh, but you don't have to worry at PF Chang's! Not only do they have vegan entrees, but they will substitute tofu for any meat in any dish, so you can eat just about anything on the menu!
C: What a relief. It would be great to go to a place and not feel like a freak and have them understand and also have plenty of stuff for my (non-vegan) husband.
The server (S) comes over and I brag to the server about Cristy's newfound veganism and what a relief it is to go to a place that has so many options.
S: There's only one thing on our menu that's vegan. Vegans are people who don't eat any animal products, and that includes foods that have been processed with sugar that is made with bone char. All of our sauces have sugar with bone char as does all of our tofu except the silken tofu. Our soy sauce has sugar with bone char, so even that wouldn't be acceptable to a vegan.
M: (long, long pause) So the spring rolls, the vegetarian lettuce wraps and the Ma Pa Tofu I've been eating for years are not vegan?
S: No. But you can get the Buddha's Feast, without the sauce, and with steamed silken tofu instead of the five-spice tofu. That's the only thing that's suitable for vegans. Everything else has chicken stock, oyster sauce or non-vegan sugar.
Now, of course, we have confirmed Cristy's fears–that she will likely be eating animals and not know it. The server clearly knew what she was talking about, but all of that only came out because of what I said. Meanwhile, PF Chang's (http://twitter.com/PFChangs) got a steady stream of tweets from yours truly yesterday. Here's their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pfchangs and here's the "Contact Us" form that's easy to fill out and submit. It's probably more powerful if you were just there and have something to say about your "Dining Experience" (they ask which franchise and at what time you visited).
And it might not be so great if you draft your comment while angry, and end up with:
I was shocked and dismayed to learn that your menu is not vegan friendly. I have been dining at PF Chang's for years under the impression that your Ma Pa Tofu, spring rolls, and vegetarian lettuce wraps were all vegan. And in fact several websites that serve the vegan community mention how friendly you are to vegans.
I understand that the most prominent ingredient that is not vegan in your sauces and tofu is sugar made with bone char. Surely there is another source of sugar and tofu that would make your restaurant a place vegans would frequent again. But until then, unfortunately, the vegans that I am in contact with through my blog and through twitter and other venues online and not, will be dining elsewhere.
Reminds me of how my mother used to say: Write a letter to the person you're upset with, but don't mail it until the next day.
My favorite PF Chang's feature was that it was a chain. I could go to Princeton and there it was. Asheville? Check (it's a newer one). Northern Virginia? Check. Long Island? Check. No need for happycow.net, and friendly to non-vegans.
But I was misinformed.
I'm over it already. I'm good like that–devastated for an hour or two, then pretty much neutral about anything. It's the Buddhist in me, I guess.
But if it's important to you, give PF Chang's a holler and let them know how you feel.