They Say it’s Vegetarian, but…


I didn’t feel like cooking last night, so I went a local Chinese restaurant for take out. While looking over the menu, a friendly employee asked if she could make any suggestions for me. I told her I was vegan and asked which vegetarian dishes she recommended.

“We don’t have any vegetarian dishes,” she said.

This confused me. I was looking directly at the “Vegetarian” section on the menu, so I asked, “What about the Mixed Vegetables and the Sizzling Tofu Platter, aren’t they vegetarian?”

“No, they’re made with a chicken base.”

I was shocked. I’ve been ordering “vegetarian” dishes from this restaurant ever since going vegan. I would never have thought to ask if their “vegetarian” menu items were really vegetarian. At least now I know.

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to say hello! I love receiving your comments and questions, so please contact me. Email: celestedimilla(at)yahoo(dot)com (pardon this funky spelling…it helps prevent spam).

Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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15 Responses to They Say it’s Vegetarian, but…

  1. sashwilson says:

    This reminds me of when I ate at Chipotle, I thought they’re beans were a safe vegan friendly option. I even told the employee who was preparing my order that I wanted a vegetarian bowl. Later I found out that the pinto beans are made/reheated with bacon.

  2. Yikes – I eat at Chipotle too!!! Thanks so much for your comment Sash – I guess we just have to ask, ask, ask.

  3. Nikki Peters says:

    I’ve been veggie for over 12 years and I’ve had similar experiences before. It makes you feel so guilty but you weren’t to know. There should be a disclaimer on menus explaining. When visiting America last year, I also really struggled eating out as so many cheeses had rennet in (not many do here in the UK) but they didn’t say which on the menu so eating out is hard when you don’t know if animal products are present.

  4. Hi Nikki! Thanks so much for your comment. I’ve only been vegan for a year, so I’m still learning. I deal with the cheese thing by not ordering it unless I’m in a vegan restaurant. How’s the vegan scene in the UK? Are there many vegan options?

  5. I have had this problem too. Mainly when traveling and there is a language barrier. I once asked for a meatless dish in a Spanish speaking country and was given a whole fish on a plate because the word for meat does not include fish there. And on a trip to Africa I ate soup for a week at the lodge we were at and asked daily if it was vegetarian. I only found out that it wasn’t when I asked for the recipe for a particularly good one and chicken broth was listed as an ingredient.

  6. OMG – a whole fish! I hope it didn’t have the eyes and everything. Thanks for sharing – it makes me feel like I’m not alone in this!

  7. my1sthalf says:

    Steamed vegetable dumplings from any chinese restaurant should be vegan. They are my go-to vegan takeout. With the chinese mustard…mmmm delish!

  8. I love dumplings! Thanks for that tip – I really appreciate it.

  9. Lorrie Wenzler says:

    Had Chinese food last night and I’m sure the vegetarian dishes we had were made with chicken broth. I’m sure many vegetarian dishes at other types of restaurants also use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.

  10. Hi mom! Thanks for your comment – I appreciate it! It’s funny that you had Chinese food last night too, hope it was good. You’re probably right that a lot of restaurants use chicken broth for their veggie dishes.

  11. sansviande says:

    I’ve seen this way too many times.Be careful of cesar salads, usually there is anchovies in the dressing and any macaroni and cheeses, sometimes there is pork fat in the cheese sauce :/ But there are so many veg-friendly restaurants. Chipotle is a great example. Just note that there is bacon in the pinto beans but the black beans are completely veg. Also Fresh city is awesome and for those who live in the Boston area, Boloco is really good too!

  12. Thanks so much for your comment! My husband and I go to Boston twice a year to visit his family. We’ve never been to Boloco, but we’ll try it the next time we’re visiting.

  13. PM says:

    Some places also cook their rice is chicken broth. 😦

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