Posted by: Antonia Ciccolo | March 10, 2011

No Vegetarian Option on Your ENTIRE Menu?

I’ve been very vegan confident recently, telling people that there is pretty much something vegan on every restaurant menu – restaurants are getting good at including the garden burger or the hummus wrap on their menus these days. BUT, I skied into a restaurant (slope side) at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine called Bullwinkle’s Bistro and I was astounded that I couldn’t find a single vegetarian item on the menu, not one. I was with my carnivore cousin who immediate said, “Oh look, there’s a turkey burger!” implying that I’d have something to eat. And then after a short pause said, “I forgot that turkey isn’t vegan.” Then he said, “at least there’s a vegetable soup…” but when I looked closer at the menu items I realized it said “vegetable beef soup.” Oops.

It was one of those cafeteria-style places where you order up front and then take your food to the cashier and sit down. I went over to the burger counter and made eye contact with a chef and said, “what do you have for vegetarians?” He looked at me and shook his head, “well, nothing,” he admitted. “Absolutely nothing for vegetarians? No garden burger? Vegetable wrap? I mean, what are we supposed to eat here?” He hesitated and said, “I’m really sorry, we have nothing on the menu that is vegetarian.” I continued, changing my tone a bit, “how can you not offer a vegetarian option? You’re telling me there is nothing I can eat in this entire restaurant?” He finally thought for a minute, “I mean, I guess I could put some veggies on some bread.” Yes! I got really excited which kind of made him a bit excited too. He went over to another chef and started talking and then I heard the other chef say, “artichoke hearts, add those too.” He finally made this unbelievable veggie sandwich with lettuce, tomato, basil, onion, pickles, and artichoke hearts. It was seriously the best veggie sandwich I’ve ever had. Better yet, when I went to the cashier with my sandwich (and chips and pickles), the chef came over and said, “Don’t charge her for the sandwich; it’s our fault that we don’t have it on the menu.” Boom! I think I actually turned a light on in this chef’s head. What’s more? I got a free lunch out of it!

I’ve realized now that being a vegan in a non-vegan world sometimes means you have to be pushy to get what you want, but trust me, sometimes it works!



  1. But isn’t that to be expected if you have special dietary concerns? I try to eat low calorie if possible, but there are many restaurants that don’t have anything on the menu that fits what I’m looking for. I don’t get mad if I have to go off-menu; it’s just understood that the way I want to eat is not necessarily the same way others do.

  2. You have a point, but there are 7.3 Million vegetarians in the US and an additional 22.8 million who follow a vegetarian-inclined diet (according to studies done by Vegetarian Times). I think because vegetarianism is pretty common at this point, all restaurants should have at least one dish sans meat. I’m not even asking for something vegan on the menu – I don’t think restaurants necessarily HAVE to have a vegan option, though it would be nice.

  3. I’d agree that restaurants should for good business/to impress vegetarians who come, but when it’s only 2% of the population, I don’t think that’s enough to make it an outrage if they don’t accommodate.

    That said, I will report that 3 out of the 8 people working down at my client are vegetarian, so I’ve gotten very good at looking for vegetarian options on the menus down in DC before picking a venue for team dinners – my criteria is that it must have at least two REAL (i.e., not an appetizer like hummus and pita chips) vegetarian entrees on the menu… and so far, most restaurants measure up 🙂

  4. Your post made me smile. 🙂

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