If you have special dietary requirements or restrictions it’s important that you can trust restaurant menus and marketing. This is important for health reasons because many people have allergies that can be life threatening. As you can imagine it would be problematic for someone with a nut allergy to be assured that a restaurant was nut-free only to find that the main course had a little peanut butter thrown in “for flavor.” For people who have made dietary choices based on ethics or religion, such as veganism, being able to trust what a restaurant tells you is also extremely important.
It’s not entirely news that some places in LA that claim to be or offer vegan menu items are not being completely honest. 3 years ago I mentioned a run in with Vegan Express where an employee told me some of the fake meat sold as vegan contained whey, a milk product. I also had a less than pleasant experience at Green Leaves Vegan where I was asked to leave the place after asking why there would be non-vegan items on a menu at a restaurant with “vegan” in it’s name with nothing to differentiate them on the menu.
While my research started and stopped with asking a handful of questions, the folks over at LA’s Quarry Girl took things a step further. Actually many many steps further – they actually did laboratory tests on menu items from 17 different eateries that claim to be vegan. Seriously. This is the most in depth trial and investigation on this kind of thing I’ve ever seen. Of those 17, 10 passed the test, one was suspect, 5 failed, and 1 failed in major major ways. The big failure was Green Leaves Vegan which I can’t say I’m surprised to hear. I was extremely surprised that one of my favorite places Pure Luck came back suspect. Most of the other failures were of the “vegan thai” variety and it’s entirely possible the problem is due to faulty product labeling.
The Quarry Girl posse looked into that as well and found some shocking information about requirements on ingredients lists for import foods that should be of concern to anyone who cares what they put in their bodies. Really you should just go read the article.