If you’re considering a plant-based diet, know that Vancouver is a pretty good city to live in. Although there aren’t many vegan restaurants in town, several places are more than happy to accommodate your diet.
Most will walk you through their menus, offer to remove meat or dairy from the dish you chose and adapt it to your eating habits. All to make you happy and have you back.
Since I went vegan, only once I had been to a restaurant whose menu had no options according to my new diet — a place in the Olympic Village neighbourhood. But the server did her best to offer me suggestions.
I ended up eating salad, which was not what I was expecting to eat when the group I was with decided to stop there. But that’s not a problem either because 1) the place was more about drinks and 2) I was treated properly, as any customer should be.
This week I went to a restaurant from a famous chain in Vancouver. When I checked the menu, I noticed an observation at the bottom about vegetarian and gluten-free options. So I asked the server if it would be possible to fit something into a vegan diet.
“I guess yes, but let me ask my manager,” she said, kindly.
When her manager came, I explained the situation.
“I just checked your menu. Don’t you have anything vegan or any dish you could adjust to a vegan diet?”
“But we’re in Vancouver. So many vegans in this city. Come on,” I said, smiling.
“We’re not a vegan restaurant,” he said. No smile.
The vegan community is growing fast. Restaurants that are willing to accommodate different dietary restrictions will always be an option to everyone. The places that don’t care should, at least, be kind.
I would’ve eaten a basic salad or fries that day, had the manager been friendly — even if he eventually couldn’t accommodate. But a we-are-not-a-vegan-restaurant response made me lose any interest in staying there.
After leaving that restaurant, I headed to Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown, a delight in that cold evening. Cozy, warm atmosphere, friendly staff.
The original Udon consists of thick noodles with stir-fried chicken and veggies. Mine had tofu instead. Goma-ae is naturally vegan: seasonal veggies with goma-ae dressing (goma-ae means sesame sauce in Japanese). Both were delicious.
My two cents about this experience: restaurants don’t have to change their menus if they don’t want to. But isn’t treating the customers well part of the deal?
Photo credit: Helen Alfvegren via Flickr