• 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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