Are These Potatoes Still Vegetarian Approved?

This morning, Harold and I were sitting at the counter at Millie’s waiting for our breakfast and I noticed how the potatoes, pancakes and french toast all share the same tight grill space as the corned beef hash, bacon, sausage and pork chops. I’m not vegetarian, but I began to wonder if this is something that bothers vegetarians. Are you OK knowing that your rosemary potatoes are cooked within inches of bacon and the same spatula used to flip a hamburger patty is used to shovel those meatless potatoes onto your plate? Is it OK if meat juices touch your veggies as long as you don’t actually eat the meat? Are these potatoes still fit for a vegetarian diet? I don’t have a strong opinion on this, so I ask you vegetarians: How far will you go to make sure that your food is prepared in a meatless environment?

A fresh batch of rosemary potatoes are thrown on the grill
A fresh batch of rosemary potatoes are thrown on the grill
Millie's Busy Breakfast Grill
Millie's Busy Breakfast Grill

15 Replies to “Are These Potatoes Still Vegetarian Approved?”

  1. As an armchair vegan (a phrase I heard first from you) it totally bugs me vegetarian and meat items are not segregated. I might expect this to happen in Iowa where the number of meatless restaurants are few but in Los Angeles home of the best vegan eating I’ve ever had (Real Food Daily) I expect the basic vegetarian standards to be… well standards. Restaurants are not supposed to be armchair vegetarian / vegans, that’s what us consumers do in our own awful kitchens.

  2. I personally think it makes my food taste better. However, it is well-established that I am a crappy vegetarian. (I was raised meatless, rather than choosing to go this way, which I think has a lot to do with my not caring so much.)

  3. It bugs me, but I’ve learned to let it go. I feel like I’m doing what I can by just ordering the token vegetarian item on the menu, or altering dishes to suit me in the first place.

    I’d have to abandon any kind of social life with my friends if I protested restaurants that cook meat in the same pots/pans/etc.

    Anyway, for me, it’s always been about animal welfare/environmentally conscious/nonviolence/moral thing. I suppose if it was a super fanatic religious thing, I’d might be more inclined to boycott restaurants that serve meat. But it’s not.

    And I live in Texas.

  4. I would not consider the potatoes vegetarian. I am vegan. Would if be ok to cook bacon next to food for a Muslim? So why are my beliefs constantly disrespected?! How much effort does it take to place a piece of foil on the grill to cook vegan food WITH a dedicated spatula?
    Take a little effort to make your grill and menu vegan friendly = a lot of happy veggie customers.

  5. I’m a life long vegetarian from a meat eating family, meat eating culture, (and being that I am 45, I grew up during a time when being a vegetarian was not looked upon well). I have learned to deal with the idea that meat may be near my food. I love Millie’s, because you can see how stuff is cooked; when I see the stuff I like is cooked near meat, I make a note of it and next time order something different.

  6. As a vegan if I saw this, I’d avoid those potatoes. I also avoid fries at places like McDonald’s (among the many reasons to avoid fast food entirely) that are known to fry them in the same fryer as some of their meat products.

    On the other hand, at large extended-family meals, pot lucks, and when traveling, I don’t always know if the person cooking kept their meat and veggies separate. If they’re not vegan, and they made the effort to cook something I can eat, I’m really not going to start asking too much about it, and I would graciously accept their food unless I had good reason to think there was something wrong with it.

  7. Nope, those would not be considered vegetarian. Depending on how long someone had been vegetarian/vegan and how strict they were eating those potatoes could actually make them sick.

  8. As a vegetarian I usually try to not order any sort of grilled items because I just assume they’ll be cooked on the meat grill. Recently I was telling my friends that someone needs to invent a little easily removable sub-grill that can sit on top of grills coated in meat. I was referring to BBQs at the time but it would work here as well.

  9. Eco Chef Love,
    Unless you’re going to every restaurant voicing your “belief” as a vegetarian, ie, whenever you order, you distinctly tell the server: I am a strict vegetarian, please do not cook my veggies next to any meat, and the servers acknowledges they can cater to you, the restaurants aren’t violating diddly squat.

    As the server, I’d personally say: sorry buddy, not gonna happen, feel free to leave. This is Millie’s, not M Chaya Cafe.

  10. I’m not sure if it’s so much vegetarians being disrespected as much as it is potatoes cooked in meat grease are delicious (same with eggs…eggs in bacon grease .. mmm..). Now, if the restaurant flat out refused to cook the potatoes (or eggs) in a separate pan or grill – that’d be disrespectful.

  11. Okay, I’m confused.

    I thought ethical vegetarianism – and veganism, in particular – were about concern for the treatment of animals, about not contributing to animal cruelty or exploitation.

    How does avoiding cross-contamination contribute to the improvement of animal welfare?

    The bacon/pork chop/ hamburger grease on a shared spatula is already bacon/pork chop/hamburger grease. Keeping it away from your potatoes isn’t going to change that.

    This seems more like some sort of magical thinking/superstitious concern for ‘purity’ than any kind of rational concern for animal welfare.

    Did I miss something? Is veganism really all about avoiding animal-product cooties?

  12. I’m a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Vegetarian.”

    I avoid eating animals, but don’t freak-out if I discover, there’s lard or bacon grease in the ingredients. I just won’t eat it again. I won’t eat a pizza with pepperonis or sausage peeled off, because of the residual grease, yet the veggie & cheese pizza may contain animal rennet, and I’ll eat that if I’m blissly ignorant to its contents.

    And as often as I order a grilled cheese from In-N-Out, though they do cook them on the bread-side of the grill, every now and then I have to remove bits of burger out of the cheese from the shared spatula, I’ll keep eating them because I love them enough to look the other way.

    It’s all subjective and personal preference. We form habits according to our needs and beliefs. Now thanks to you Verdell Wilson, I have one less place to order papas con romero.

  13. Off topic, but I’m pretty sure McDonald’s Fries are cooked in their own fry thing and don’t share it, but I could be wrong. Haven’t been to a McDs in ages.
    I wouldn’t eat those if I knew, I’ve been veggie for 11.5 years. I try to stay as close to vegan as possible, but have a little cheese from time to time, esp if out for food for work activities. But I’m with the “I don’t totally freak” crowd if I find out something wasn’t, esp if it’s not advertised as so.
    You can always ask to cook stuff separately but Christ knows if it is. Asking for food to be cooked kosher is generally a safer bet. I am surprised that anyone is surprised that breakfast potatoes at a “greasy spoon” share the grill with meat.

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