I want to take a moment (ok, let’s be real.. when do I ever take just a moment HA!) to talk about being a plant based eater (vegan) and supporting restaurants that serve primarily meat.
To take a step back, there has been a crazy rush of mainstream restaurants offering up vegan options … deliberately vegan. Now – majority of these still remain in the UK, but that’s ok. I know they are on the way. For example, Carl’s Jr. in the USA now offers the Impossible Burger and White Castle has offered the Impossible Slider for quite some time. Word on the street is KFC will be offering up vegan chicken as well (although for some reason, there is quite a bit of controversy around this one … apparently, the chicken eaters don’t want to share the secret 11 blended herbs and spices with the rest of us). Taco Bell, Chipoltle, Burger King – all have vegetarian, easy-to-make-vegan options.
But yet I’ve encountered the conversation a couple of times: how can you eat at a place that makes profit by serving meat?
At first I thought “hmmm good question” but – not really. Allow me to elaborate a couple of points.
Point 1: There are reasons, beyond veganism, that cause people deviate from the menu.
From the dawn of restaurants people who eat there are offered up a menu. And then there are people who want to eat there that require special needs – be them allergy-driven, rooted in religion, or just a general preference. Regardless of the reason, menu options are modified.
Now, because we all know things are modifiable, we modify.
Instead of looking at this example from the veganism point of view, let’s look at someone who has a religious based reason for not eating pork. They still go to restaurants. They simply order appropriately or modify appropriately. If you had a friend like this, would you even consider asking them why they support a restaurant that serves pork AND the people that owner the restaurant eat pork themselves? Would you try to shame them into not eating there or make them feel they are any less a member of their religion because they did go to the restaurant?
Point 2: I vote with my dollar.
Economy runs on the dollar. I’ve heard people in the farm industry during interviews say out loud “if people don’t want it, we won’t grow it.” (note: grow is a common term to reference raising animals for consumption)
The farm industry – all of them (meat, dairy, and egg) – are consumer driven. If people don’t eat it, they will change and ‘grow’ whatever people are eating.
By going out and eating at a restaurant, you are making a decision to tell the restaurant owner that the products you want do not contain animal products. You are telling the restaurant owner there is a whole sub-culture out there that doesn’t believe they need a sentient being to die for them to eat.
The more vegans that step into a Carls Jr. now that they are serving the Impossible Burger (obviously without the cheese), the restaurant will respond by buying more Impossible Burgers. They will see a shift in their client base and adjust purchases. By shifting purchases, less of their money goes towards meat. The meat industry will get the message that growing beef isn’t where its at… where “its” = money/profit.
Do the owners, who are meat eaters, still make bank? Sure. But… can a difference be made? Absolutely.
Point 3: Yes, if the shop owner is a meat eater, they are making profit off me even if I eat vegan there.
This one was tossed at me once and I thought on it… and quite frankly I won’t stop buying gas for my car because the station owner isn’t vegan. I won’t stop buying clothing because the owner of the store isn’t vegan…
What I buy is in my control and I cannot control what others buy – but I guarantee you that because of Point 2, regardless of the personal conviction of the shop owner, they will not spend their dollars to fill a shop or restaurant with things that are not being purchased.
As people begin to make the connection I think we will see a shift. The connection that the animals they have on their plates are no different than the animals they keep as pets. The connection that their health really can improve based on what they choose to put on their plate. The connection that the environmental impacts of the animal industries can shift drastically with dietary changes. I really don’t think it will be long until those very shop owners either shift to a plant based lifestyle or deal with a number of cruelty-free owned stores coming to market.
Change to progress or stagnate in the old. It’s their choice in the end.
Yeah, I eat at restaurants that serve meat and are more than likely owned by people who eat meat. When I go out, I keep my eyes and ears open for the opportunity to share our lifestyle or at very least, share our website for Willowbrook Farms. Our residents may not be ‘open to the public’ but they are ambassadors for change. People can see them for who they are and perhaps reconsider they next time they make a food purchase.
Crystal, President & Co-Founder
Willowbrook Farms Animal Sanctuary