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View Full Version : Introducing vegan alternatives to my cafes menu



toefish
Sep 28th, 2007, 12:41 AM
Hi all,

As a Vegan for the last 10 years and having a cafe I have decided to offer vegan alternatives to "mainstream" cafe food. I would love to offer only vegan food but this would result in my business closing down because I would be "too specialised". I realise that there are a lot of vegans out there who would damn me for selling "regular food" to customers, however my husband and co-owner of our cafe is not a vegan. I want to do my bit for the vegans of the world and as such want to also offer meat and dairy substitutes for sale in my cafe. On other sites I have been damned for deciding to do this by vegan puritans however being a vegan for 10 years, I know how hard it was to go "cold turkey" first up and it was very comforting to be able to tuck into a seitan burger or to grate a bit of uncheese onto my pizza and to not feel so alienated from everyone else at social gatherings. I am proud to be a vegan however we all need to co-exist here in the world and to do so, we need to be able to get along with people who might not agree with our choices in life. It is all about finding ways to compromise without compromising yourself morally. Apart from this, there are a lot of people out there with dietary intolerances, allergies and religious dietary requirements who whilst not being vegan, their dietary needs run parrallel with our own and they also need to be looked after. I live in Tasmania and its very conservative in the area where I live and there are not a lot of avenues open to vegans where they can get vegan foods. It is also very expensive to purchase many manufactured "vegan" foods because of transport costs raising the prices and so I wanted to offer people the alternative of freshly made local products using organic locally sourced ingredients at competitive prices. Has anyone else gone along these lines in a cafe before? I am just interested to know of anyone with a similar story or anyone else who would be interested in replying to this post. After all, a business owner who doesnt listen to their customers and potential customers shouldnt be in business!

Thanks in anticipation of any and all replies

Fran :o)

sugarmouse
Oct 1st, 2007, 11:27 AM
I arent able to comment directly as no., I have never been in a business where I could do this however I just wanted to say yay for you! itis a brilliant idea, and I would do thesame if I was in your position! Hopefully if you cook great veganfood, some experimental omnis will have a try. I have often got folk loving my cooking whether they are vegan or not, it opens peoples eyes to the alternative and that is a great thing to do!

twinkle
Oct 1st, 2007, 01:15 PM
I don't think there's anything wrong with meat and dairy substitutes, they're not harming anything and that's the main reason behind veganism in my view.

I think we may have a thread on the whys and wherefors of substitutes, I know some veggies don't like them because they remind them of the real thing, but I can't see any logical reason for condemning someone else for choosing to use them. The only problem with having them in a place primarily catering for omnis is that a curious omni may try them, conclude they're not as good as the "real thing" and that therefore we eat crap, so I suggest offering something great that isn't based on an imitation substance as well.

Good luck with your endeavours :)

twinkle
Oct 1st, 2007, 01:18 PM
Actually, re-reading your first post I'm not sure if you were saying people were condemning you for offering meat substitutes, or for selling meat as well as vegan food, and am now unsure as to what the exact questions were. Heh.

I realise this sounds patronising, but it really makes it a lot easier to read posts if they are broken into paragraphs :D - maybe it's just me not having a good enough attention span though.

frank language
Oct 1st, 2007, 09:13 PM
On other sites I have been damned for deciding to do this by vegan puritans however being a vegan for 10 years, I know how hard it was to go "cold turkey" first up and it was very comforting to be able to tuck into a seitan burger or to grate a bit of uncheese onto my pizza and to not feel so alienated from everyone else at social gatherings. I am proud to be a vegan however we all need to co-exist here in the world and to do so, we need to be able to get along with people who might not agree with our choices in life. It is all about finding ways to compromise without compromising yourself morally. Apart from this, there are a lot of people out there with dietary intolerances, allergies and religious dietary requirements who whilst not being vegan, their dietary needs run parrallel with our own and they also need to be looked after. I live in Tasmania and its very conservative in the area where I live and there are not a lot of avenues open to vegans where they can get vegan foods. It is also very expensive to purchase many manufactured "vegan" foods because of transport costs raising the prices and so I wanted to offer people the alternative of freshly made local products using organic locally sourced ingredients at competitive prices. Has anyone else gone along these lines in a cafe before? I am just interested to know of anyone with a similar story or anyone else who would be interested in replying to this post. After all, a business owner who doesnt listen to their customers and potential customers shouldnt be in business!

Agreed; I've been leaning on a local eatery to expand their vegan offerings. They're a tiny store with a few very excellent vegan things—their "Very Veggie" soup, as well as an amazing wheat-free, dairy-free coffee cake, for instance—and I've given them copies of Vegan With a Vengeance (http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Vengeance-Delicious-Animal-Free-Recipes/dp/1569243581/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-4487837-6231618?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191268592&sr=8-1) as well as Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Cupcakes-Take-Over-World/dp/1569242739/ref=pd_sim_b_shvl_img_1/105-4487837-6231618)—both of which I recommend to you, by the way. Although legally you'll have to make mention that the food from these books is vegan, a lot of people may not even realize it!

And then, a lot of people will end up getting the food because it's great.

harpy
Oct 1st, 2007, 11:19 PM
If the question is would I eat vegan food in a non-vegan cafe run by a vegan, the answer is "yes please" because I would trust the vegan to make sure the vegan food was vegan :D

Personally I would prefer the kind of food that is made with vegetables grains etc rather than fake meats or cheese - I do eat these at home sometimes but I prefer not to when I'm out, partly because it's harder to be sure they haven't mixed up the orders and partly because they seem like short cuts.

toefish
Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:19 AM
Thankyou for all of your replies

In my post I meant to point out that I had been "told off" in no uncertain terms by other members in another forum for offering meat dishes in my cafe. I run my cafe with my husband who is omni and as such am just one voice in the decision making of our cafe. I want to try the "softly softly catchy monkey" approach to my customers and give them good vegan alternatives so that they can see for themselves that vegan food is just as tasty as the animal based meals that they are used to. I feel that its easier to show people rather than "tell" them and the militant approach tends to put people off rather than educate them into the fold. I am sorry that my post was a bit long and not broken up into paragraphs, I was still reeling from my "telling off" on another forum and my fingers did the talking not my brain! :o) Thanks to everyone for their positive and most helpful replies. I am going to go ahead with offering my vegan alternatives and I am also going to produce from scratch, home made (therefore "fresh") organic meat and dairy substitutes like seitan, uncheese and other products like these. Again, thanks for all the replies

Fran :o)

twinkle
Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:36 AM
I'm always pleased when I see vegan options in an omni eating place, as they're then good places to take people you have to eat out with but who wouldn't want to go to an all veggie place. Plus, if you're in a very conservative un-veg-friendly place, you'll probably be the only place offering vegan options anyway. Sounds like a winner to me.

Of course, if the vegan options are wildly successful, maybe you could do an all veg spin off cafe, or franchise ;)

puffin
Oct 3rd, 2007, 08:18 PM
Thankyou for all of your replies

In my post I meant to point out that I had been "told off" in no uncertain terms by other members in another forum for offering meat dishes in my cafe. I run my cafe with my husband who is omni and as such am just one voice in the decision making of our cafe. I want to try the "softly softly catchy monkey" approach to my customers and give them good vegan alternatives so that they can see for themselves that vegan food is just as tasty as the animal based meals that they are used to. I feel that its easier to show people rather than "tell" them and the militant approach tends to put people off rather than educate them into the fold. I am sorry that my post was a bit long and not broken up into paragraphs, I was still reeling from my "telling off" on another forum and my fingers did the talking not my brain! :o) Thanks to everyone for their positive and most helpful replies. I am going to go ahead with offering my vegan alternatives and I am also going to produce from scratch, home made (therefore "fresh") organic meat and dairy substitutes like seitan, uncheese and other products like these. Again, thanks for all the replies

Fran :o)

I think its great. I have been doing some research on such matters myself and i agree with you that it would be hard to make a living out of a souly vegan restaurant. You cant often find vegan alternatives when you go out (well except the usually salad). I think fresh cakes, etc would be a good idea as omnis would eat them to if it looked tasty, and not every omni wants meat with every meal and will probably love to try something new.
Good luck.

harpy
Oct 3rd, 2007, 08:25 PM
Yes, Fran - you've got to start somewhere, in my opinion. A vegan cafe that goes out of business isn't much use to anyone :D Perhaps you can stealthily phase in more vegan options if people like them.

One thing I've noticed some restaurants doing is avoiding the word "vegan" on their menus, I think because it puts some omnivores off ordering those things. If that's a concern, you could just say something like "vegan options available, please ask" or have a separate vegan menu with the relevant subset of the omni menu.

MillieAnne
Oct 4th, 2007, 02:54 AM
I think that it is unfair for vegans to pass judgement on other vegans choice of food. It is a snooty way for people to say "I'm a better vegan than you because I do not eat that." I catch shit all the time because I'm in culinary school mastering in nutrition and sometimes I have to break my beliefs for my education and my future. I'm a semi-adult and can make my own choices...I would much rather hear nothing than criticism.

By the the way......I think you should definitely add some vegan options and do not get rid of the non-vegan options. The more people you can accomodate the better.

Mystic
Oct 4th, 2007, 08:21 AM
PLEASE LET ME SUPPLY YOU WITH VEGAN CAKE! Actually I am from melbourne and I haven't started my business yet, but I will be at some stage next year :)

Crafterga
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:25 PM
Go for it! What better chance to get omnis eating great vegan food than offering it in an omni establishment. You might even get many to reduce their meat and dairy intake.

And it's one more place for us vegans to eat! Never a bad thing.

I know that some say that mentioning vegan may put some people off, but I think that vegan options do need to be marked as such. I find it so frustrating to look at a cafe menu and think "well that looks like it might be suitable, but I'll have to go in and ask a whole load of questions to be sure"!

I wish you loads of luck and hope it goes well. Where are you based by the way? Many of us on this forum may wish to pay you a visit if we're in your neck of the woods.

Kyla
Oct 4th, 2007, 01:47 PM
I think it's great! I work at a restaurant too and was thinking of doing something similar a few years down the road.

silly_bunns
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:15 PM
Perfect! I think you should sale vegan foods, although maybe if you just make it a meat-free buffet, maybe no one would mind or notice. Possibly salads, home-made vegan cookies, or peanuts. Anything light that could go in a cafe.

Spud Addict
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:40 PM
I'd just like to quickly say I think it's a great idea to add vegan alternatives to an otherwise omni-targeted establishment. I think any effort to support veganism is applaudable. I think mixed menu places like that help to reduce the alienation that a lot of us suffer if we want to go out to eat somewhere with omni friends. Will try and think up some ideas. :)

gogs67
Oct 4th, 2007, 11:27 PM
Thankyou for all of your replies

In my post I meant to point out that I had been "told off" in no uncertain terms by other members in another forum for offering meat dishes in my cafe.
Fran :o)
Don't let the 'vegan nazis' put you off! http://www.celticminded.com/images/smilies/animlol.gifWhat you are doing is brilliant,keep it up!http://www.celticminded.com/images/smilies/thumbupyellow.gif

Spud Addict
Oct 5th, 2007, 03:52 AM
Lol gogs! Some sort of green swastika needed for them. :D

Ruby Rose
Oct 5th, 2007, 03:53 PM
Fantastic idea, Toefish! Go for it! Perhaps if you think that the Launceston crowd will be wary of trying something labelled 'vegan', you might just call it the 'vegetarian' menu to start with?

Mad Ox
Nov 9th, 2007, 05:50 PM
Hurray toefish! Congrats! My husband and I are turning our natural grocery store/deli vegetarian right now! Not a vegan store...not yet, but we have many vegan options.

We are both vegan, just since July (almost vegan for 3 years), so expanding the menu is a challenge.

We are taking a financial risk, but I can't imagine not trying to do something that aligns with our beliefs.

I hope you are feeling proud of your decision to offer vegan choices.

I too was criticized on another forum for selling animal products. There was support from many, but mostly in private messages. I understand their points, absolutely, however, being in the food business presents special challenges. This board seems so polite...what a relief.

We use the word vegetarian instead of vegan, sometimes. It's not apt to rile people so much. I put up a book section in my store recently that has ONLY vegan literature. I don't think most people notice it, but those who do ask questions...wow...polite dialog with customers about the food industry.

I look forward to hearing how it goes.

--Mad Ox

pat sommer
May 22nd, 2008, 08:01 AM
How goes it, Fran? Was the summer business good?