Tonight Jane and I went out for Thai food. We’ve eaten at this particular restaurant a number of times, and are fairly confident we’re getting a vegan meal – as long as we specify that we want no eggs, and no meat. We know we need to do that regardless of the menu description because they tend to use a lot of egg and some kind of dried shredded pork or shredded fish product in Thai cooking, at least in the Thai restaurants we frequent.
After a rather busy day for both of us, we were tired. We knew what we wanted, and so we ordered our favorite dishes… Pineapple fried rice, no meat; Pineapple Curry; and Glass Noodle Deluxe – Tofu. No meat. Do you see our mistake? We missed it!
Everything arrived and looked lovely. We were very hungry, and so we dug in. About halfway into our meal, we noticed there was egg in both the Pineapple Fried Rice and the Glass Noodle. And we both looked at each other with dismay. We’d forgotten to specify “no egg” when we placed our order.
This was our dilemma: the eggs had been “consumed,” regardless of whether or not we ate the egg, it was already incorporated into the meal. (And good luck trying to get bits of fried egg out of a fried rice dish!) If it had been the restaurant’s error, we would have returned the meal, to make the point (and because we would have specifically ordered “no egg”). But this was our mistake. So we talked about it for awhile and decided to continue eating. Why? Because the eggs were used and the restaurant had depleted their inventory by one or two eggs. Even if we’d felt comfortable returning the dishes (we’d eaten more than half, and it was our mistake), the eggs were still “consumed.” So we continued eating, and even brought home the leftovers.
Regardless of where we’re eating (unless it’s a vegan restaurant), we typically tell our servers we’re vegan, and specify “no milk, no egg, no meat, no butter” when we are ordering our meals. We like to eat out, and we know our servers aren’t going to necessarily know the ingredients in everything we question them about. So we make our most informed choices and hope for the best. But we’re often taking a leap of faith that the bread we’re being served has no milk or egg, and that when we’ve asked for our meal to be prepared with oil not butter, we’re actually getting it prepared that way. We also ask for more vegan options at restaurants we frequent, either by asking our server or manager directly, or dashing off an email if the restaurant’s particularly busy. We’ve even had some success getting restaurants to carry more vegan items. (Or rather, us and whomever else might have been asking for the same thing.)
We are vegan at home, and we strive to be vegan outside our home. We never knowingly order a non-vegan meal, except for that occasional slice of pizza we’re still planning on eating when we’re in NY. Unfortunately, we’re fairly confident that occasionally we wind up with something vegetarian, whether we know it or not. So this was our conclusion, in the instances where it’s their error, we will return the meal because it’s not what we ordered. In the instances where it’s our error, we will eat the meal, and make a note of how to request the meal for the next time, or we will never go back.
How do you handle these situations?