Naan – It Isn’t for Vegans!

I had lunch with a colleague today. We went to an Indian restaurant he knew of, very close to our meeting site, which was important since the weather wasn't cooperating much. The restaurant shall remain nameless, since it isn't one I care to refer to anyone!

Regardless, our server was great. He helped me find a vegan meal and as our food was being brought to the table, he grabbed my naan (an Indian flat bread usually served to help sop up all the delicious sauces), and said he'd provide a vegan alternative for me. Apparently, naan is made with milk and eggs. Who knew?

Again the food was actually pretty bad, but the service was stellar. I was really impressed that this person cared enough to ensure that my dietary requirements were being met. He certainly would not have suffered in any way if I'd been served the naan, and quite frankly, I never would have known it wasn't vegan.

So, once again I've learned you cannot make any assumptions... ASK, ASK, ASK!


  1. Oy, yes. I’m mid vegan/ gluten free challenge week (I do self-imposed dietary challenges from time to time, and felt my system needed a break; I can’t pretend to be so disciplined the rest of the time.) I asked a Mexican restaurant we were at about the tortilla chips, and what they were fried in. He said no meat. Took a bite: definitely lard.
    Good thing it wasn’t a religious or ethical requirement for me, just a preference.

  2. By the way, I’ve left a couple of comments, and I don’t at all want to sound sanctimonious/ condescending– I was vegetarian/ nearly vegan for 5 years, and have done a lot of research to trick my meat and potatoes beau into eating real food without complaining, and I’ve got a couple of good cookbooks that I’m willing to give you if you’re interested– sounds like you just made the switch?

  3. Lovely to be reading your blog (which I read abouton Fruitarian) – my dh and I have been veggie for eons, but ditched the eggs and dairy altogether about 4 or 5 years ago (I know it’s strange, but the changeover was gradual and therefore the ‘altogether’ part is non-recorded).

    Keep up the good work here! I’ll add this link to my blog and return here often!

  4. Sorry – that wasn’t Fruitarian; it was Vegan on Care2 *duh*

    Btw, our local Indian restaurant also warned us last year about naan bread. I thought it was very thoughtful of them because, like you, we might not have been able to smell/taste the egg and dairy in it with all spices going on in the meal. They explained that they catered to a lot of Indian vegetarians and vegans, so . . . .

    Hugs to you for passing this on to everyone!

  5. Tanya — The challenge week sounds interesting. I think it might be harder overall to do something like that for just a week. It was a huge effort for us when we first started vegan-eating. Now, we feel like we’ve gotten the hang of it. We still need to scrutinize our food choices, but it’s gotten easier, and feels “normal.”
    I’m sure we’ve had a few non-vegan things inadvertently when eating out, but we feel that we’re giving this a real effort and that the occasional slip won’t be detrimental.
    And as for the cookbooks… we’d love to have them. I’m not sure how to contact you directly…
    — Jane

  6. Hi River,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.
    I completely understand about the “altogether” comment as I have no idea when I stopped eating 4 legged animals… Some of our changes are gradual, others are dramatic and therefore more memorable.
    — Lane

  7. Hi Lindsey,
    Better to be forewarned, no? Actually, I’ve found a few recipes for vegan naan… here’s a link for a recipe from PPK.
    My local Indian restaurant says their Paratha is vegan, but you shouldn’t make that assumption everywhere. Recipes I’ve seen include ghee or margarine. So, you should always tell your server you’re vegan and what you’d like to avoid.

  8. I just found out that I can’t trust our local Indian restaurant and I’m not going to eat there as a result. I talked to a woman who works in the kitchen and she said she saw the owner putting some milk in a dish that is advertised as vegan.

    She said, “what are you doing? You advertise that dish as vegan!” and he said, “when it’s been sitting on the stove a while, it looks better if you just put a little milk in it. No one will know the difference.”

    No one would have known the difference, except that the woman is the sister of someone big in the local vegan community and she’s made sure to get the word around.

    I won’t buy food from someone I know for a fact I can’t trust. šŸ™

  9. Hi Sparrow,
    What an awful story. I’m sure it happens more than I’d like to think about.
    Jane and I have kind of decided that we’ll be as vegan as we can be when we go out to eat. If we encounter something like you experienced at your Indian restaurant, then we too would boycott them.
    The Indian restaurant we frequent has an open kitchen, so if you’re seated in the right area, you can actually watch what’s going in to your meal.
    quarrygirl alerted us to the fact that many Mexican restaurants use chicken stock to prepare their rice.
    Unfortunately, going out is sometimes like playing russian roulette with your morals.

  10. “Unfortunately, going out is sometimes like playing russian roulette with your morals.”

    Not to mention your stomach and your health.

    Eating dairy makes me ill, but only sick enough to avoid the restaurant in the future. They will be in big trouble if someone with a serious food allergy eats their “vegan” food.

  11. I love Sparrow’s quote about playing Russian roulette with morals. I feel this way all the time; I often wonder if restaurants have made a given food the ‘vegan way’ or if there is some sort of hidden milk/egg. I generally embarrass myself by asking the server to ask the chef exactly what is in any food I order.

    And I have made vegan Naan before and I can’t really tell the difference. Then again, fresh-from-the-oven breads are always just as good (if not better) than less-fresh breads with animal enrichments to maintain softness. šŸ™‚

  12. Hi Sparrow,
    Yes. Sometimes I forget to include the stomach/health issues as neither Jane nor I suffer from any kind of food allergies. We have had a few instances where one or both of us have gotten sick after eating out, but we have always suspected that perhaps we’ve been given something a little past it’s expiration date. And after thinking that about a restaurant, it can NEVER be visited again.
    It’s so odd that a restaurant would take a chance like that. If someone has a serious allergy, the repercussions could be dire — for both the customer and the restaurant.

    Hi Kim,
    We usually ask our servers too, but how much can they really know about what the chef is doing?
    When Jane is on a bread baking kick, I’m in heaven! There is nothing like fresh baked bread!

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