Should You Ask?

January 12th, 2009 by NashVeggie Leave a reply »

This is a post inspired by a question I asked on Twitter and some responses that followed.  If a vegan restaurant is serving a dish traditionally made with dairy replaced with soy ingredients is it OK to not directly disclose on the item unless someone asks?  Is this the same as walking into any other restaurant and asking if a dish contains a dairy product that may not be outwardly obvious?  Is this the same or remotely different?  I’m not arguing either side, I am just curious what my visitors think on the subject.



  1. Erinne says:

    When it comes to restaurants there is so much that can go into a dish or item that there is no way of knowing without asking and even then you may not get the full story. While offering an item that is traditionally served using dairy or another animal product and replacing that ingredient with soy, or any other non-animal product or possible allergen, I believe the responsibility lies in part on the customer to ask and bring to the attention of the restaurant their concerns and allergies. As a vegetarian I am always asking if items may contain a meat product where it is not always obvious, such as soup and sauces. The same should apply to anyone else, even if the tables are turned so-to-speak.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Why should I have to ask if something I would expect to be served in a normal manner is made in non-normal way using ingredients I wouldn’t expect? The fault lies with the establishment if I get sick.

  3. Veg_Rules says:


    Do you know what goes into every item you eat in a restaurant? Who is to say everything has a “normal manner” in how it is made?

  4. Veg_Rules says:

    To answer the question, in regard to allergens, it is usually put upon the customer to inquire about them. I happen to see no problem with the situation you are taking about.

  5. Jennifer says:

    To Veg Rules,

    I have a reasonable expectation when I walk into a normal restaurant. I wouldn’t expect to go into a Burger King and order a hamburger and get a chunk of tofu on a bun. Would you? Same goes if I walk into any other place and order a sandwich and get served fake meat. It isn’t expected and should not be done.

  6. Veg_Rules says:


    “Same goes if I walk into any other place and order a sandwich and get served fake meat. It isn’t expected and should not be done.”

    Am I understanding you to say products typically made using meat should not be made using “fake meat”.

  7. First, if I know it is a vegan restaurant or market then no, I don’t think those replacements have to be spelled out because I expect that sort of thing in vegan cooking. If it is a vegan restaurant and I order cheesecake, then I expect that it isn’t really cheesecake so I don’t expect them to spell it out.

    If I saw the tweet correctly, you asked about if a cheesecake should be marked. If I’m at Whole Foods and purchasing something that says Cheesecake on it and it isn’t marked vegan, I expect that it is made with cheese – hence the name. If I get home and notice that it is vegan and there is no cheese in it, I am going to be angry with the company who made it and with Whole Foods for the fraudulent packaging. So it is all in the frame of reference for me.

  8. Jenn says:

    I think it is a courtesy and a smart business move for any menu item prepared in a non-conventional way to state so on the menu.

    However, I believe it is the responsibility of the customer to ask about allergens and special diet needs. For example, my husband ordered us a pizza that came with pesto. He didn’t realize that pesto traditionally is made with parm, because he is used to the kind we make.

    If a customer gets sick because they ordered something with an ingredient they’re allergic to, that is the fault of the customer.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Yes, to a point I believe that is true. Why should you make a hamburger into aveggie burger (for example), just eat your beans and seeds and leave the real food the way it is.

    You are so wrong. If something is made different and I get sick because of it I am placing all the blame on the restaurant. There is no reason I should have to worry about what I get when I eat out.

  10. Veg_Rules says:

    Jennifer, I am convinced you are just a simple troll. No person could be so narrowminded. I won’t qualify your comment with a response.

    Jenn, I do agree that it would be a smart business move to post ingredients for any restaurant. I have heard of talk of passing a law for that very thing in New York but it always gets beaten down by the restaurant industry. I guess they don’t want to pay extra for printing new menus. I am accustomed to asking about ingredients when out as I would guess any person with an allergy is as well.

  11. Sheila says:

    well when I was in school, they served what they called “hamburgers” which were actually about 80% soy. We all ate them and loved them, we didnt’ get sick because the soy burger was called “hamburger”.

    Point being, if you are allergic, you would ask. It is not the responsibility of the restaurant. If it were, then ould it be their responsiblity to make sure people with dairy allergies didn’t get sick if they failed to ask if an item contained dairy?

    .Be reasonable, We are talking about using soy milk instead of dairy milk and earth balance instead of butter in an item like a cupcake. No one is going to fry a piece of tofu and sell it for prime rib…….

Leave a Reply to Sheila