Independent plant-based cafés and restaurants in our community all have the potential to benefit from the support of each and every one of us.
My son has been a vegan his entire life and is now 16 years old. Since before he was born, I have been doing everything I can through my career as a vegan public relations specialist to ensure that he would be able to go into a candy store like any other child and purchase candies that are free of gelatine, cochineal, and other forms of animal cruelty. And at this point, he is able to do so, just like everyone else, however it is not just because of me. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that there would be such a wide variety of vegan options available, including but not limited to food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, shoes, and clothing.
It is wonderful that even fast food restaurants now offer vegan options to their customers. I really do wish and hope that millions of people try vegan burgers, fall in love with them, and give up eating animals as a result of their deliciousness. It is a bittersweet situation, of course, due to the fact that large establishments may provide considerably cheaper costs than local eateries that are independently owned. They buy in bulk, thus the ingredients are frequently not of the same quality as those found in eateries of a similar size. Nevertheless, it pains my heart to see and hear that so many vegan cafes and restaurants are struggling recently, asking for aid, and even closing their doors as a result of their financial situation. These trailblazers have poured their hearts and souls into their vegan businesses, not with the goal of becoming filthy rich, but rather with the intention of making a significant impact on the environment.
It seems odd to me that some vegans are so eager to talk about the vegan options available at fast-food restaurants, particularly those vegans who live in cities like London, which have such a large number of eateries that are friendly to vegans. I frequently come across statements like this one on various social media platforms: “If you don’t show XX fast food restaurant your support by purchasing their vegan burger, they will cease serving it.” It is possible that their top marketing and research teams know a great deal more than us mere mortals, and it is also likely that they will not delete it if it is bringing in money… Instead of trying to get vegans to keep buying, shouldn’t the goal of these options be to get meat eaters to experiment with vegan alternatives?
Now, have a look at this: eat wherever you want to! Wherever you see fit, post it! Even though it may not be my first, second, or third choice of where to eat, I am thankful that my son has the option to go to one of these places with his friends and eat something vegan, even though it may not be my first, second, or third choice of where to eat. Having been a (very, very small) part of “McLibel” (in my very early vegan days), there are some restaurants that I would never even be able to try out anyway. But then, I don’t fit the profile of the typical customer for either of these establishments. It’s possible that their target demographic is brand-new vegans who grew up enjoying their fast-food ‘treat,’ or reduceterians; alternatively, it could be adventurous meat eaters who want to try something different. In an ideal world, I would love to see restaurants like Wagamama reduce the number of meat alternatives they offer. I don’t mean they should merely add more meat-free options; they should actually remove one meat option. For the time being, let’s all show our support for veganism by patronizing our neighborhood health food stores and resident vegan restaurants. Maintaining their viability and growth, even if doing so will result in somewhat higher expenses than patronizing one of the numerous large fast-food companies.
When you go at one of these tiny vegan restaurants, be sure to post about how amazing the food is on your social media accounts. Add their tag and the location to the post. Also follow them on all of their social media accounts. If you are unable to eat out (and given the rate at which prices are rising, I am even more worried about the viability of our lovely vegan restaurants), then please share their postings to assist them in spreading the word. Be a little bit of a PR person for them, just like I am! Why should you choose to act in this way? When I became a vegetarian almost three decades ago, eating out was challenging for me because of my diet. However, I did not give up, and I attribute my success to the fact that I always had some form of media behind me, and that my voice was heard. I wanted to make things simpler for vegans who came after me to eat at a certain restaurant. When I was younger, in order to enjoy a delicious vegan meal, I had to either drive for two hours to Brighton or head into London. It’s possible that we’ll find ourselves living in a world dominated by fast food chains if we don’t give our local vegan cafes and restaurants the support they need. Despite this, I am going to keep doing what I’ve always done, which is to champion the independents who are genuinely changing the world one mouthful at a time.