Anyone ever walk into Dairy Queen and ask them if they have any dairy-free ice cream? If you haven’t, I’m sure someone on this planet has. Part of me thinks that Dairy Queen should offer dairy-free ice cream. If you plan on specializing in ice cream, you should includes lots of options to satisfy ice-cream-loving customers. The other part thinks, “It’s called Dairy Queen, right? Why am I even in this establishment and WHY am I expecting dairy-free options from a place called Dairy Queen?” There’s no hiding the fact that the restaurant doesn’t cater to vegans when the word “dairy” is in the restaurant’s name. We get it. You serve dairy items. Sorry I just asked for mint chocolate chip almond milk ice cream in a biodegradable bowl.
If I open a vegan restaurant someday (we all can dream…) and a customer walks in asking for a steak, I’d be offended. I would tell them, “This is Amazing Vegan Restaurant Extraordinaire (working title). We don’t serve steak or any meat products.” The meat eater would make some noise of disgust and walk out. Doesn’t it sound a lot like how we react when we enter a steakhouse?
Vegan customer: “The tofu kabob, please. Medium firm. Thank you.”
Steakhouse waiter: “We don’t have tofu. This is Texas Roadhouse. We serve steaks.”
Vegan customer: –Insert preferred noise of disgust here.–
We do it all the time. Admit it. Instead of politely telling our coworkers, “Hey guys, I don’t think I can eat anything at Red Lobster…”, we go along any way. We don’t want to inconvenience our friends, but then we’re stuck eating “Red Lobster’s World Famous House Salad Without the Cheese, Egg, Bacon or Croutons and With a Side of Mustard. Hold the Honey.” Easily the most popular menu item. Mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Is it wrong for us to throw a fit when a steakhouse tries to serve us steak? Or when Dairy Queen tries to serve us dairy? The owners of these restaurants opened a business to fill a need for animal products. They are not ashamed of the menu items. They take pride in serving “delicious” food to hungry customers. Can we blame them for not serving us medium firm tofu? Yes, we can. We all know extra firm tofu is the best and no one should be serving medium. Gross.
But seriously. Steakhouses won’t start selling tofu kabobs tomorrow because the restaurant industry works much like any industry. Restaurants and all companies in general must adapt to changing consumer preferences in order to compete. Unfortunately, many businesses fall behind the curve and are unable to foresee these changes (I’m looking at you Hostess Twinkie). So why keep feeding money toward restaurants that rely on animal products? Even if you are ordering the “World Famous House Salad,” you are telling the restaurant that you approve of their business and you want to give them money for it too. Start ordering the extra firm tofu kabob from that fun veggie-friendly restaurant down the street. Avoid supporting businesses that are resistant to change. The veggie-friendly restaurants will appreciate your support. As for the steakhouses and ice cream shops, eventually they will catch on. In the mean time, your money will be going elsewhere.
Just for fun, the real-life kids menu at Texas Roadhouse: