View Full Version : Project Idea - A User Submitted Vegan Restaurant Database

Nov 25th, 2010, 12:41 AM
I was just thinking, after a visit to the HappyCow website how it would be a good idea to have a similar website but purely for vegan food.

The reason I think this would be a good idea is that HappyCow has a lot of restrictions on it, i.e. a certain percentage of the menu must be veg, it should be organic, local and if certain meats are served the restaurant is automatically excluded (including beef and lamb). This often means that when you're looking for a vegan restaurant in an area you'll get no results despite there being perfectly suitable places.

I can kind of understand why they have these restrictions as otherwise you'd get hundreds of results but on a website just for vegan food this wouldn't be a problem.

So I suggest the creation of a similar website with user submitted info but with the only clause being that the restaurants have to specify that their food is suitable for vegans.


Nov 25th, 2010, 10:16 AM
It's an interesting idea. I think what I'd find really useful is a list of all the places where you can get vegan food even if the restaurants don't call it that: for example Lebanese restaurants often have a lot of food which is vegan but they haven't always heard of veganism. When we were in Germany recently we found a very useful list on someone's blog of all the places they'd found locally that did vegan food - something like that on a global scale would be good.

Of course with non-vegan restaurants there is always a "caveat emptor" element which some people wouldn't find acceptable.

Nov 25th, 2010, 01:43 PM
^ That's exactly what I didn't think it should include. You can go in to virtually any restaurant and find something vegan to eat if you want to question them about it. I was suggesting just places that actually specifically cater to vegans by specifying that a dish is vegan so you can just go in, order something and know what you're getting is vegan without having to question anyone about it.

Nov 25th, 2010, 03:34 PM
That would be nice, except that the data would be a bit sparse (understatement) in a lot of places I've been to, unfortunately. Might be good for parts of Britain and the US though.

What about Winchester, for example - what places there could you include (she enquired cunningly, with a visit to Winchester coming up)?

Nov 25th, 2010, 04:35 PM
To eat out in Winchester the only option that would get listed on the website would be Wetherspoons. There is a pizza express though. Pretty slim pickings here. Have to go to Southampton for any real choice. Food shop wise there's Montezuma and Sainsburys that specify suitable for vegans on their own brand products. Other vegan friendly shops are H&B and Superdrug.

The data for restaurants may seem a bit sparse but as I've just exampled chains such as Wetherspoons, Sainsburys, Holland & Barrett and Co-op would all be eligible for listing making a pretty comprehensive list. It doesn't even have to stop at food, Superdrug could be included as well.

Basically the website would reward any shop that bothers to mark their products as suitable for vegans with free advertising, it would be useful to vegans as we could quickly see all the shops and restaurants in an area that specifically cater to us and I hope it would encourage other shops to add vegan markings to their products in order to get listed.

Nov 25th, 2010, 04:40 PM
Thanks, I suspect we'll end up in Pizza Express or similar.

It might encourage people to list vegan options, especially once the site had a fairly high profile (some creative publicity might be needed to get it going). Do Wetherspoons actually identify vegan items on their menu or do you have to look on the website? I forget.

Nov 25th, 2010, 04:47 PM
They do list a couple of curries on their menu as suitable for vegans.

Nov 25th, 2010, 04:55 PM
I have actually had one of those curries, but IIRC the staff had to be told what to do to make it vegan (substitute poppadum for naan bread?) - mind you that doesn't mean it wasn't explained on the menu, they might just not have read it!

Nov 25th, 2010, 05:03 PM
Yeah, it says on the menu "this dish is suitable for vegans if ordered with extra poppadums instead of naan bread" or something like that.

I suppose the website would also include shops that just sell a lot of specific vegan products as well like health food shops.

Really the encouraging businesses to mark their products as suitable for vegans would be secondary to the main purpose which would be that you could find out all the shops in an area that are vegan friendly. Right now if you want to do that you have to either go to all the websites of Wetherspoons, Co-op, superdrug etc. and use the store locator option on each one separately or join a forum and ask hoping that there's someone in the area that will oblige. For new vegans it would be a great tool as well as us veterans and also for people thinking about veganism they could see just how many places there are that cater for us.

Nov 25th, 2010, 05:07 PM
I really just need either someone with web design knowledge that could help create the functionality of the website or someone to point me in the direction of some already designed software that will do it. I'm quite happy to put a lot of time and effort in to adding the content.

I did think about a wiki but I don't think you'd be able to include things like a postcode search and people would have to learn to use set templates... it wouldn't be very user friendly.

Nov 26th, 2010, 09:59 AM
Would Google Maps be any good? Someone here had a similar (but non-identical) project going based on that - yes, here http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?26537-Vegan-UK-map&highlight=google+maps

Nov 26th, 2010, 10:47 AM
Not really, as you can see I've posted in that thread a few times. I wanted user submitted reviews so people could comment on how good places are for vegans. Plus I don't think you can use the search function on maps like that and I'd want it to be it's own website... Basically I want it to be the same as the Happy Cow site.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

Nov 26th, 2010, 10:50 AM
OK, so you're talking about putting inside any restaurant that offers some vegan options?

I am also a user of the happycow website and find their restrictions worth discussing, but often not helpful. However, they allow you to log restaurants if certain criteria are met (not serving veal/beef is what comes to my mind) - with the caveat that they might not log it.

I have actually logged a sushi restaurant there where they went out of their mind to prepare me a really nice plate of vegan sushi. Of course they also serve the dead fish thingies to other people there, but I was allowed to log it, as I think it is a good alternative for a hungry vegan who is searching for something and does not have moral issues with supporting an establishment that also serves carcasses..

My fear is that it would need a lot of work to duplicate what is already in happycow ... and then also add the meat places that have vegan alternatives. I'd rather try to get the alternatives logged with happycow (maybe cheat a bit and say they do not serve beef ;-)

Best regards,

Nov 26th, 2010, 11:25 AM
There's no way you'd get even a fraction of the stuff I've suggested on to happycow. It may need a lot of work but like I've said, I'm willing to put a lot of work in. I also think once presented with such a website the vegan community would jump in and help. Internationally could take a while but I know the UK would get done pretty quick.

Nov 26th, 2010, 11:50 AM
I think the idea is good, Risker, and the best way to do it IMHO would be to either set up a separate blog-ish database or do it in the form of a forum (or part of a forum/any other solution which lets people add comments etc.).

With eg. menus and submenus and a built-in search function, it should be easy for users to navigate to the part of the world/country/county they're looking for.

Nov 27th, 2010, 01:27 AM
Thanks Korn, a forum would kind of work, but like google maps it's missing half the equation in that you couldn't do a search for places within distance of a certain area, i.e. postcodes or small towns. Somehow need to combine the two.