Eating out as a vegan – the ghastly gripes

Written by Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of Stem + Glory

I’ve spent 35 years eating out as a vegan. Whilst things have improved massively, with many restaurants offering vegan menu items, the same common problems occur all the time. Here are six ways that restaurants can improve:

  1. Offering vegan menu items that are similar to non-vegan items that offer sows confusion amongst staff. Make the vegan dish look and sound completely different. Serving onto different plates is also a good idea.
  2. A really common mistake is butter sneaked into vegetables. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve enquired if vegetables/potatoes contain butter, or if they can be cooked in oil, only to be served them in butter.
  3. Some people in hospitality still think it’s funny to sneak non-vegan ingredients into meals served to vegans. Enough said!
  4. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have taken a sip of my soya latte only to discover it was made with milk. Sometimes it’s error, sometimes servers just take the wrong drink. Again, different cups would be hugely helpful.
  5. I worry about having vegan food prepared in non-vegan kitchens. Food hygiene rules should prevent cross contamination, but it happens. Hands go from meat and dairy to handling vegetables. Restaurants with a clear policy that vegan meals are prepared at a separate station are very welcome.
  6. Frying vegan food in friers that also fry meat and fish products. This is a real no and needs to be clearly identified on a menu.
  7. Many menu items could be easily veganised with a little bit of effort, just removing meat, fish, and cheese from a dish and not substituting something else but still charging the same is annoying! If I order say a salad with the feta removed, I really appreciate when a restaurant makes an effort and adds more alternatives such as olives, sun dried tomatoes, seeds, asparagus, broccoli, anything really that complements the dish.


In the coming years market trends will most likely force restaurants to up their game in meeting the needs of people who abstain from eating animal products. I have a very small list of family restaurants I consider, I’d love to have a really long list!

Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurant Stem + Glory; a hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurant. 



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