• la vegan thai: shady findings

    June 4th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, la vegan

    as you know, i’m not a big fan of the vegan thai restaurants that have been popping up all over los angeles, with the same menu and questionable ingredients. from the stretchy cheese at green leaves vegan that the staff can’t explain, to the whey-containing soy meats at vegan express, some of these thai places give us plenty of reason to suspect them.

    the latest shady vegan thai findings come to us in an email from a tipster called mr. wishbone. while i can’t confirm his findings, he did provide a photograph, and i thought his story was worth posting. mr. wishbone wrote in an email:

    “I now feel like the pancake police, because when I went to L.A. Vegan in Marina Del Rey/Culver City and had pancakes they seemed too fluffy to be Kamut and vegan. So I went to the restroom (conveniently in the back of the kitchen) and lo and behold found a big bag of Buttermilk Pancake Mix!

    I confronted the waiter/manager and he said it was only for the “cooks use, for their meals” and “we are not vegan”. Needless to say his holding up a tiny bag of Arrowhead Mills Kamut Pancake Mix (unopened) did not convince me that they hadn’t used something non-vegan. I have had many a gritty/yellowish Kamut pancake and these were NOT Kamut flour as described on the menu as “low gluten Kamut Pancake”.

    While in the kitchen I looked around a bit and also noticed the margarine they were serving was not Earth Balance, but a commercial tub of regular margarine.(Probably also from Smart & Final) I tried to read the whole label quickly, and did not see whey or milk solids listed but it did have mono and di-glycerides, which are often not vegan.

    I got really angry after I left and went into “Pancake Police mode” and returned after-hours for a little dumpster inspection that evening… I found the half-used bag of Smart and Final “Chefs Review Buttermilk Pancake Mix” in the trash, along with a bag of Bisquick Baking Mix. (I think Bisquick IS vegan, but definitely not made from Kamut, so they are liars already.)

    …To have a half-used buttermilk pancake mix in the kitchen, and to have thrown both away the night I discovered them and challenged the manager seems like a guilty child trying to throw away the evidence of his crime.

    If the word vegan is in the restaurant title, animal products shouldn’t be cooked in that kitchen. (Even of only for the staff. Just my opinion)”

    here is the photograph mr. wishbone took of the trash in la vegan’s dumpster. it all seems pretty dubious to me.

    buttermilk pancake mix in the dumpster of la vegan thai

    buttermilk pancake mix in the dumpster of la vegan thai

    some of you may think i shouldn’t have posted this, because i didn’t take this picture myself, etc. however, i think it’s important to bring up the point that just because these thai restaurants have the word “vegan” in their title, doesn’t mean you should trust them. if this were the first instance i’d heard of where a vegan thai place had non-vegan ingredients in their kitchen, i probably wouldn’t post it. however, i hear story after story from customers who feel they’ve been lied to…this one just happened to come with a photograph.

    and i have to agree with mr. wishbone that if this is a 100% vegan establishment, that pancake mix shouldn’t even be in the restaurant, let alone kitchen. and i don’t buy for a fucking second that it was to feed the employees. what, they are so pancake obsessed that they need to bring their own non-vegan mix to work just so they can get a fix? it really doesn’t add up.

    it’s unfortunate, because places like this really ruin it for the vegan thai joints that are upfront and honest. i for one, know i am pretty much done with vegan thai, and if i am ever forced to eat at any of these places again, it’s gonna be steamed vegetables and tofu, which is unlikely to be contaminated.

    i’m not telling you to boycott any of these places or give up vegan thai like i did. i’m just saying, think about it. we should start holding these restaurants accountable.

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22 responses to “la vegan thai: shady findings” RSS icon

  • This is crazy! I am always paranoid when something seems too good to be true. We don’t have any vegan thai places here but I often have trouble ordering vegan in thai restaurants. It seems weird that a thai place serves pancakes anyway? Maybe that is just me.

  • The reality is if the people behind the counter aren’t vegan your food isn’t likely vegan either, unless you’re dealing with a knowledgeable chef at a nice restaurant.

  • fuck these places. they’re just greedy assholes trying to cash in on a “trend”, and trying to do it as cheaply as possible… by lying!

    what these people don’t realize is the time someone with a wheat allergy comes in and ordered those “kamut” pancakes, they’re done.

  • my rage has made me lose the ability to type properly. that’s how pissed off i am!

  • I heard the first-hand account of this story early in May and had put it out of my mind until your post. I long-ago gave up on vegan Thai restaurants (unless the food is cooked for me by Pia herself, I don’t trust it) both for these breaches of trust and also because their food is generally not interesting or desirable as compared to all the of the amazing trustworthy vegan restaurants we’re lucky to have in LA.

  • I’ll say it. BOYCOTT VEGAN THAI! These places are not vegan businesses, they do not deserve vegan cash or support. Your money would be better served supporting actual vegan-owned restaurants or vegan-friendly restaurants like Purgatory, Tomato Joe’s and the like.

  • I’ve eaten their pancakes before and they actually sucked. they were sooooooo thick and where super white and I was totally suspect. Yeah, fuck that place. I’m NEVER going back!

    Aside from people being vegan, they need to respect people with food allergies. People allergic to milk and/or egg ingredients could have fatal reactions… I hope they get SUED!

    Thanks for the exposé!

  • Greed. “Oh, if I put the word ‘Vegan’ in the name of the restaurant, I’ll have guaranteed business? Done. Wait… what does the word mean? Ooohhh… it just means no meat. Okay, that’s easy… no meat.”

    It’s VEGAN you greedy fucks!!!! Not just Vegetarian. V-E-G-A-N!!! Fuckers.

    Imagine if a “Raw” restaurant brought out a steaming soup or whatever! No fucking way!!!

    I’m pissed.

  • I personally am not vegan but lacto-ovo vegetarian but I completely understand the frustration by vegans (as well as myself) when restaurants FALSELY advertise themselves as Vegan if they are not. I believe you vegans should get together and see an attorney about bringing a class-action lawsuit against these types of establishments that aren’t what they claim to be. First I would let the Better Business Bureau know about any and all restaurants that you strongly suspect of lying about their veganness and then going to an attorney if the BBB can’t resolve the issue.

  • UGH. My g/f and I eat at LA Vegan at least once a week. What are we supposed to do? If they LIE about it when asked we just can’t trust them. I’ve heard lots of stories about vegan Thai being non-vegan, so I’m CERTAINLY not going to one ever again. I’m so sad.

  • There are a handful of Vegan Thai places I trust. My stomach tells me the truth when it goes ape shit after I eat an animal product…and it doesn’t usually lie to me.

    PS: Thank you. I’m ready 😉

  • yeah i got to tell you, i had the same experience at “Green Leaves Thai” or something on Hillhurst. Basically to make a long story short, they didn’t understand what vegan meant when I confronted them about something similar. I think a lot of the times these places just use the term “vegan” because its become trendy (a double edged sword) and are not 100% sure what it actually means.

    Truly Vegan on Hollywood Blvd by the 101 however, is exactly that. One of the first “vegan thai” places to open, owners are totally into the vegan concept…

    Glad someone else has been on top of this too…


  • Could anyone tell me if this place is under the same ownership as LA Thai Vegan on Fountain at Sunset in Silverlake? I get their pad thai all the time.

  • OMG, you have no idea how much I just laughed reading your post. The situation is not funny at all, but terms like the “pancake police” and your insight into an employee obsession with pancakes that leads them to bring their own non-vegan bag to work had me cracking up. It really is a shame though that businesses put the word “vegan” in their name and have no clue what it even means. I’m lacto-ovo but I’ve become so skeptical of establishments from when I was vegan that I’d really rather cook for myself to be safe. Chicken and beef stock like to hide in the darnedest of places.

  • Why are you singling out Thai places? And I mean come on, anyone can throw something in a dumpster, or those boxes could be there for any number of reasons. Jumping to conclusions like this not only seems like slander, but also slightly racist! Like Thai people have it out for vegans or something. Those dirty Thai Carnvores!
    And I’m sure all those white people running restaurants are good and honest like everyone knows white folks to be.

    I bet half of you wear leather shoes. Also, I was very happy to see not a single one of you commented on the trash not being separated… yay for environmental consciousness! Go SUV’S! =(

  • art, your comment is the most ridiculous thing i have ever read.

    the majority of these vegan thai places (usually the ones with “vegan” some where in the title), are lying to vegans about their ingredients and feeding unknowing vegans animal products. they are just trying to make a profit off vegans as cheaply as possible.

    and there has been several other non-thai restaurants on here that have been investigated and caught lying. do your fucking homework.

  • rainperimeter

    i’m with art in regards to at least the last bit of his post. no one is bummed about that trash situation? no recycling? composting? anyone give a shit about that?
    no? ok then.

    that pic looks totally bogus anyways…

  • Perhaps the difference is between what you consider vegan and what they consider vegan.

  • First world problems.

  • Robert Goldschmidt

    I don’t believe this article…first of all, anyone can take a picture of the inner contents of a dumpster and place items that are convenient inside. It is not very intelligent for anyone to assume that what is written in this article is true just because someone posts a picture such as this on this website. If we were to make an analogy to a criminal matter, it would not even be convincing enough to even charge a person. These Bisquick boxes could have been put in any number of dumpsters, photographed by the guy / girl whose friend wrote this article perhaps because there was an argument or disagreement between the owner of the Thai restaurant in question and the photographer…I personally don’t think there is strong enough evidence to suggest that there is any wrongdoing by LA Vegan…

    moreover, I have eaten there on a number of occasions and find their food to be relatively upscale and delightful…I have eaten the pancakes the photographer confronted the manager about, and I personally do not have the stomach problems associated with my eating pancakes that aren’t made with Kamut or animal products….

  • QG, has anyone been back to check up on these guys or do some investigation? My brother and I just got a flyer from them on our door and were THRILLED at the possibility of late night vegan delivery. However, if they’re shady we’ll stay away. Maybe I should go check it out…

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