Adventures in Vegan Dining

I almost never have trouble finding something to eat in Grand Rapids, and it’s been years since I had a waiter that didn’t know what vegans do and do not eat. But lately I’ve hit a string of them. I figured most of you can relate. It’s kind of funny, kind of…not.


Restaurant #1
Me: Is this pasta vegan?
Her: Sure, I’ll just make sure they leave off the Parmesan.
Me: [thinking she gets it] Great, thanks!
Her: And would you like to add salmon or chicken?
Me: Umm…no thanks, I’d just like to have a vegan meal.
[pasta comes out plated with two big pieces of garlic bread I really wanted to eat]
Me: Oh, is this garlic bread made with oil?
Her: [looking very pleased] No, it’s made with REAL butter!

Restaurant #2
Me: Are the veggie tacos vegan?
Him: Um, I don’t think so because they usually use chicken broth to cook the rice.
Me: [noticing the big green V, indicating vegetarian, next to the tacos] Wait, sooo if it’s marked vegetarian it might still have meat stuff in it?
Him: Vegetarian is different than vegan.
Me: Yeah, but…vegetarians don’t eat meat, either.
Him: [long pause] I don’t know.

Kind of makes me nervous about trying new restaurants, but it’s worth it for the times I end up with great food. Do you still have this issue when you dine out, or do you find most people actually know what “vegan” means?