Encouraging Madison Restaurants to Offer Vegan Options

What Do We Want? More Vegan Options!
When Do We Want It? Now!

by Bob Schwalb, Alliance board vice president

If you’re like me, one of the most frustrating experiences is going into a restaurant with the presumption that surely something on the menu will be vegan, only to find out that your sole option is a side salad (hold the cheese, bacon bits, and ranch dressing, please). Grrrr!

Making it easy to find a vegan meal at any Madison area restaurant is the goal of the Alliance for Animals and the Environment’s recently formed Restaurant Outreach Team. Our group created a colorful and informative guide for restaurants on the how’s and why’s of offering vegan meals in their restaurant. We identify the restaurants in the area that currently have no vegan main dishes on their menu, visit the restaurants, and speak with the managers or owners encouraging them to add vegan options to their menu.

We let them know the many reasons why offering at least one vegan option is good for their bottom line. First of all, more and more people are becoming vegan and these people, like most people, like to eat out. Second, even those who don’t identify as vegan or vegetarian often look for and order meals that are plant-based for health and/or ethical reasons. Third, if a group of people are going out to eat and one person in the group is vegan, the group will likely choose a restaurant that can accommodate the vegan in the group. Simply put, not offering a vegan option means lost business, something no restaurant can afford.

Our team recently had its first success as The Coopers Tavern just added a vegan item to their dinner menu called “Local Herbivore”. Their menu describes it as, “a seasonal display of local produce, sauce, and accompaniments all made completely vegan”. Hooray for Coopers! If you have the chance, please let Coopers know that you appreciate them making the change. Who knows, if this dish sells well, maybe they’ll add more vegan options later!

If you’re interested in joining our outreach team, let us know (alliance@allanimals.org). But even if you don’t join our team, you can still help by letting as many restaurants as possible know that you want them to add vegan options to their menu. If they do have vegan options already, thank them for doing so. Let them know that because they offer these options, you decided to dine there. And let them know that the more vegan options they offer, the more likely you’ll be to dine there again.

Working together to communicate our preference for more vegan options, we’ll eventually make it easy to find delicious vegan fare at any Madison area restaurant.

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