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My Beef with Vegan Eating in Austin, Texas

Hey! You know what! I'm sick and tired!

I want to go somewhere other than Kerbey Lane to eat a quality vegan hamburger, and, unfortunately, only a few places in Austin actually sell such an animal. Even those restaurants rarely serve vegan cheese or mayonnaise, which are things that I appreciate on a burger.

Even worse, Hut’s Hamburgers has a vegan patty, but does not offer vegan bread, and BJ's Brewhouse has the same problem. At one time, Kerbey Lane also offered a vegan burger with no vegan bun but has since changed its evil ways. In fact, you can choose from any of their offered breads and be safe with a vegan choice for your burger.

But restaurants like Kerbey Lane with cruelty-free breads are rare. Red Oak Grill in Houston offered to substitute pita bread for my hamburger bun, as that was the only bread product they knew was vegan. Live Oak Grill (no relation) also has no vegan buns, even though they have an otherwise vegan portabello mushroom burger. At Thundercloud subs, they offer a delicious sounding veggie submarine sandwich, with no vegan bread option, as well as a veggie chicken patty that contains animal products.

I commend Kerbey Lane, Terra Burger, and Bouldin Creek for offering vegan bread options, as they are an essential part of sandwich and hamburger eating. I will personally refuse to eat a burger if I am not offered the appropriate accoutrements, the most important one being bread. I am not gluten-free or on Atkins. I'm a vegan. I would rather eat shitty, accidentally vegan buns from Wal-Mart with a quality, handmade veggie patty than pay two-for-one prices on Mondays for a Hut's breadless vegan "burger."

My place of work recently underwent a huge menu change and created a wonderful recipe for a handmade veggie burger. The only problem was when they "couldn't find any other way to bind the blended ingredients" they gave up and chose to use egg whites. We also serve several tofu dishes that contain actual oyster sauce and noodles that contain egg products, one of those being the "Tofu Vegetable Noodles," which is often ordered, unquestioned, by Hindus, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Little do they know, these dishes don't even qualify as vegetarian. Our fries contain milk products though they are not advertised as "battered."

So, what I'm sick and tired of are the inconsistencies with the ethics of vegetarian options offered at restaurants. It's easy enough to simply not go to these restaurants after finding that they don't offer something vegans want, but what really irks me is that I know vegans and vegetarians who wouldn't think twice about ordering a burger advertised as having a vegan patty without asking about the bread. I know Hindus who wouldn't ask about ingredients in a veggie burger or a tofu dish whose ethics would deter them from eating egg and seafood products.

The biggest issue for me is the fact that vegans aren't asking. For a vegan to assume, even though I too can be guilty of assuming products are vegan when indeed they are not, is inexcusable for any plant-based practitioner. Every time you purchase something you don't ethically support, you're putting your stamp of approval on that product and stating to the company or person that produced it that you indeed support that product. And by placing that stamp of approval on that product, you are also saying that you support whatever means it took to create that product, be it animal testing, environmentally unsound farming methods, anti-labor employment practices, or whatever it is that you would otherwise speak out against.

Today's lesson on ethics: "Veggie" does not mean "vegan," and just because you think a bread or pasta or anything is vegan because you think it "must be," ask anyway. Because omnivores are crazy. And they hate you.


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