Stop and Smell the Flowers

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated December 15, 2013.

Flowers! I love flowers! So pretty, and they smell so nice!

© Ingrid Haunold

Let’s take a closer look…

© Ingrid Haunold

What do you mean, I’m not supposed to play in the flowerbed?

© Ingrid Haunold

Oh… —

© Ingrid Haunold

But this is so much fun!

I want to play with the flowers !

© Ingrid Haunold

Game over.

© Ingrid Haunold

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Beware of Anonymous Vegan Bloggers: VegKitchen

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated September 2, 2018.

A few days ago, I updated my blogroll, and mentioned that I don’t like it when bloggers keep their identity secret. I joked that Rika & Doni of Vegan Miam might not be be real people, and that their blog might be “run by a corporation (trying to influence consumers with fake personalities).”

Today, I’d like to elaborate on that point. I spent some more time surfing the net for vegan blogs, and came across the following website: VegKitchen. The blog’s subtitle reads “Leading a Vegan Life.”

Whenever I check out a new blog (vegan or otherwise), I read the “About” page. I want to know who publishes a blog or website. We live in an age where corporations and politicians constantly try to influence our opinions and our consumer behavior and monetize our data, so I always make sure I know who I am dealing with.

On VegKitchen, there’s no “About”-page. This immediately makes me suspicious. So I scroll down to the bottom of the page, where I find the following information: “Vegetarian Recipes from “Oh My Veggies.” I click on the Oh My Veggies website, and my suspicions are immediately confirmed; because on this website, they’re not “leading a vegan life.” On this website, vegan and vegetarian recipes are published.

So who are the people behind these two websites?

On Oh My Veggies, there’s a small box in the right-hand top corner, where a photo of a beautiful young couple is published. It is oh-so-perfect, and it is immediately clear that these people are models, and not the site’s bloggers. Yet the text below this photo identifies them as the blog’s owners. I don’t believe it, and no names are given, which ads to my suspicion.

I return to the VegKitchen website and click on the link to their Privacy Policy at the bottom of the page, where they explain how they use my data – “they” being a corporation: 301Brands, LLC. I google the company’s name, and find their official website, where they explain what they do. They publish a number of lifestyle blogs.

I click on one of their brands: Wably. And all of a sudden, I am on a lifestyle website where recipes are published which contain meat and fish.

I click on another one of their brands, Beauty Hacked, a website which focuses on women’s cosmetics. I decide to google the following term “cosmetics firms animal testing,” and find a blog entry on PETA’s website, “These Beauty Brands Are Still Tested on Animals.” I can’t tell when this blog entry was published, so some of it might be old information; but I decide to pick one brand at random, which is mentioned in this article, Clinique. I then search for Clinique on the Beauty Hacked website, and immediately find a blog entry, where Clinique products are mentioned and recommended.

I then check the Privacy Policy on the Oh My Veggies blog (scroll to the bottom of the page), and find that the blog is published by another company, Spork Brands, LLC. This company only has one static page with little information, so I return to 301 Brands, LLC. While I find information about 301 Brand’s team members, I don’t find any information about who actually owns the two websites.

So I google “who is Spork Brands, LLC.” I find an article about this company on Digital Journal, “Spork Brand Closes on First Round of Digital Acquisitions.” And here I finally find the first useful information, as it establishes a clear link between Spork Brands, LLC and 301 Brands, LLC. I also find a name, “Matt Arceneaux, co-founder and CEO of 301 Brands.” Spork Brands, founded in 2017, has purchased the websites Oh My Veggies and Veg Kitchen from 301 Brands. “Spork Brands is backed by a consortium of private investors with experience across a variety of industries.” It is a company which targets women by publishing “niche lifestyle sites.”

I google Matt Arceneaux’s name, and find an article on Marketing Dive, “Report: Major brands scammed in extensive fraud scheme linked to US ad firms.” I read the full report on BuzzFeed News, “Ad Industry Insiders Profited From An Ad Fraud Scheme That Researchers Say Stole Millions of Dollars.” This article ties the ad scam to 301network, to 301 Media and Arceneaux – and to VegKitchen. To summarize, ads from major brands were misused through a “special code that triggered an avalanche of fraudulent views of video ads” by approximately 40 websites, 12 of which were connected to Arceneaux, according to BuzzFeed News. Read the article, it will blow your mind.

So there you have it. I went from “leading a vegan life” on VegKitchen to a vegetarian blog on Oh My Veggies to an omnivore blog on Wably, to a cosmetics website and on to a PETA website about cosmetics & animal testing, and finally to allegations of fraudulent activities.

How’s that for a vegan blog?

Do I really want to use such a site? VegKitchen tries to cash in on the vegan trend, as so many companies do these days. As vegans, we must not let ourselves be exploited by corporations who want to monetize our data and our passions. As a vegan, do you really want to purchase something from a “consortium of private investors,” most of whom probably aren’t vegan themselves and invest the money they make from you on who-knows-what (but probably not on vegan causes)?

Your consumer choices matter. Be vigilant, and always make sure who you’re dealing with when you click on a blog or website.

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Blog Roll Updates

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated August 28, 2018.

Every few years, I update my blogroll, and I’m always sad when I see that a blogger has given up and not longer updates his site, or has let his domain registration expire. Once again, I had to cut half a dozen sites from my blogroll, and only a few of the original blogs remain. Time to add a few new ones to my list. I spent all day yesterday surfing the net, checking out vegan blogs, and found a few great ones.  Here they are:

Kristin Lajeunesse has won several awards for her blog, Will Travel for Vegan Food, and rightfully so. She has also written a few books about her experiences as a blogger.

Justin P. Moore blogs on The Lotus and the Artichoke, and he, too, is a published writer. He successfully managed to fund the publication of his first cookbook on Kickstarter, and has since published several cookbooks.

Another vegan travel & food blog I came across and like is Vegan Miam, written by Rika & Doni, who strangely don’t reveal their last names anywhere on their blog. I find that somewhat unsettling, I do like to know who I am dealing with; I would like to know if I am dealing with real people, or if this blog is run by a corporation (trying to influence consumers with fake personalities); it could be run by Russian bots, for all I know. In this day and age, someone somewhere is always trying to influence our votes, our consumer behavior, and our opinions – anonymous blogging just won’t do anymore. So I am little wary about this blog – but they do publish gorgeous photos and yummy recipes.

I quite like A Southern Gypsy, written by freelance writer Ashley Hubbard, as she does not only write about vegan food & travels, but also publishes stories about sustainability issues and vegan activism.

Veggie Visa is a vegan travel & lifestyle blog, written by Randi (no last name). I’m not sure why so many bloggers keep their identities a secret, especially since they are trying to monetize their blogs, but at least Randi does seem to be a real person (not sure about Rika & Doni).

Mindful Wanderlust is written by Giselle & Cody (no last names, I sense a pattern here), and they have won several awards for their blog.

Isa Chandra is written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who previously blogged on Post Punk Kitchen. She is a freelance cookbook author.

I quite like The Road Not Taken, a vegan lifestyle, food & travel blog written by Nadia Holmes, who also has her own cooking show on YouTube.

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton’s website, The Healthy Voyager, is a vegan lifestyle & wellness blog. She has published a cookbook, and hosts online travel and cooking shows.

I’ll add more blogs to my blogroll in the future, if I like them. There are many more vegan bloggers, but I can’t recommend all of them. Some bloggers are bad writers, others confuse their blogs with their Instagram accounts and publish mostly photos, and some vegan bloggers have such badly designed blogs that it’s difficult to navigate them. I only recommend blogs I personally like.

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The Vegan Consumer: Making Better Choices

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist on March 12, 2017 and last updated May 25, 2019.

In November 2016, I cancelled my membership of the Vegan Society Austria after a rather unpleasant experience at their Vegan Planet fair. One of the vendors had put out a sign which informed customers that all profits from their sales at this fair would be donated to medical research. I was furious, as this means only one thing: animal research. When I complained, the company’s general manager and staff told me they didn’t care about animal research, and the (vegan!) fair’s organizers didn’t resolve the issue to my satisfaction. I was furious, and penned a couple of angry German-language blog entries, which I have now deleted, as I decided to revert this blog to a strictly English-language blog. (I think it confuses readers, if I blog in two languages.) I swore that I would resign my membership of the Vegan Society Austria – which I did – and that I would donate the money to an NGO instead, which supports research without animal testing, Doctors Against Animal Experiments. I vowed never to buy that particular company’s food products (hummus) again. I also decided to make better buying choices in the future, because I realized that I wasn’t living up to my own personal ethical standards.

While I always buy vegan products, I don’t always buy organic products. In the past, I  shopped frequently at supermarkets, and not at smaller, family-owned stores or at farmer’s markets. I didn’t know anything about the companies which produced the products I was buying, or their business ethics; and I frequently ordered take-out from non-vegetarian restaurants through an online delivery service. I wasn’t just furious at the company which made the (non-organic) hummus. I was angry at myself for buying non-organic foodstuffs in the first place, and for not being a more ethical consumer.

In the years that followed (I am updating this blog entry on May 25, 2019) I did make significant changes to my buying behavior. I now buy very few non-organic food items. Unfortunately, many non-food items are not available in organic quality, e.g. vacuum cleaner bags. There’s also no organic (vegan? non-animal-tested?) substitute for printer toner, and I continue to buy magazines, books, and DVDs. But I have made improvements in regard to my buying behavior.

I did not manage to keep up my boycott of major supermarkets, as intended. While I do shop more often at organic and/or vegan supermarkets, it’s not always possible to do so. I shop more often at Maran Vegan, a small vegan, family-owned supermarket, where all the employees are either vegan or vegetarian. Unfortunately, it’s located far away from where I live, and each shopping trip takes about 2 1/2 hours. I also shop at Denn’s Biomarkt, which is an organic supermarket chain. There’s a branch closer to where I live (15 minutes on foot), so I do most of my shopping there. I’m sorry to say that I still order take-out food over the Internet from non-vegetarian restaurants. When I am too exhausted or too tired to cook, I order out; and there aren’t many vegetarian restaurants which deliver food in Vienna.

© Ingrid Haunold

As I was making such huge changes to my buying behavior, I decided to record all my shopping expenses for one year – but was unable to stick to that decision. I kept records for a few months, but then fell behind, and abandoned the record-keeping. However, I kept records long enough to realize that I buy a lot of  convenience foods and junk food. I also noticed that while I buy plenty of healthy food items, they usually just end up sitting on a shelf for months (and years) on end, until they’re well past their due-date. 2 1/2 years later, not much has changed in this respect.

I am cooking more, and I am slowly using up expired food items in my kitchen. (The photo shows about half of the expired items I found on my shelves in late 2016). Amazingly, they were all still good and usable. But it’s now May 2019, and I still have a few of the items shown in the photo.

All in all, this experience was and continues to be an eye-opener. There’s still much room for improvement, but I’m happy that I have initiated several changes since I first wrote this blog entry in early 2017.

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Hummus Place (USA – NY, NY)

Please note: I wrote a draft of this article on March 22, 2012 for The Vegan Tourist, and then forgot to publish it… so here it is. It might be terribly outdated…

It’s time to review Hummus Place, a small NCY restaurant chain, which serves Mediterranean vegetarian food. I had lunch at one of their restaurants way back in May 2011, but never got around to writing the review, which is a shame because I quite enjoyed my visit. There are four Hummus Place restaurants in Manhattan, I ate at one of their two locations on the Upper West Side, at 305 Amsterdam Avenue (at 74th street).

At Hummus Place it’s all about the hummus. A staple of vegan diets, hummus is made of water, chick peas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon. At Hummus Place it’s made fresh (as you’d expect) and tastes delicious.

I ordered one of their lunch specials for $ 7.95, and got a free appetizer with my entrée. I chose Tahini, a sesame seed paste, and the hummus mushrooms (hummus topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, spices and olive oil). It was served with freshly baked, warm pita bread. I ordered homemade lemonade ($2.50) as a drink. The total bill came to $ 11.38 with tax.

I liked Hummus Place not just for the food, but I also enjoyed the ambiance. There’s lots of wood and brick walls, the restaurants are light and airy and clean – not a given in New York City. The staff also didn’t pressure me to eat up and get out (to make room for the next patron), which happens frequently in Manhattan (and is something that all Europeans hate). Good, cheap food in a clean environment, where you’re allowed to linger – that’s an unbeatable combination.

My one (admittedly minor) complaint about Hummus Place is that vegan dishes aren’t marked as such on the menu. Most of the ingredients are listed, with helps, but “spices” can mean anything. I didn’t order any dessert, as it was unclear if any of them were suitable for vegans. I didn’t order any wine either, as the wine list lacked information about suitability for vegans (most wines are clarified with the help of animal products). I was also unsure about the pita bread. Many kinds of breads are made with animal ingredients, and I’m no baker. I looked up recipes for pita bread online afterwards and was happy to see that pita bread is usually made without milk or eggs; but it would have helped me immensely if all the vegan dishes on the menu had been labeled properly.

When it comes to vegan food, details matter. I could have (and would have) spent considerably more money at Hummus Place, if the menu had been clearer about which dishes and drinks were suitable for vegans. So there’s a missed business opportunity for Hummus Place, due to lack of proper information. It’s a shame really, as this is a vegetarian restaurant chain and there aren’t many of those around. Nevertheless, I whole-heartedly recommend this restaurant. Go visit, you’ll enjoy it.

Address: There are currently four locations in Manhattan, I had lunch at 305 Amsterdam Avenue at 74th Street

Opening hours: opening hours are different for each branch. Check the website. The restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue is open daily 10:30 AM until midnight.

Phone: check the website for each branch’s number


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Ikea Goes Vegan: Grönsaksbullar

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated November 27, 2015.

A few months ago, the Swedish furniture store chain Ikea introduced a new dish at its in-store restaurants in Austria: Grönsaksbullar. These are vegan “meatballs,” which are made with chick peas, green peas, corn, carrots, onions, red bell peppers, kale, and herbs. They are served with a side-dish of quinoa and mushrooms, and some tomato sauce.

© Ingrid Haunold

There’s a lot of online chatter amongst vegans about the fact that a huge company like Ikea decided to introduce a vegan version of its popular meatballs at its in-store restaurants, so I decided to try them myself. I spent an hour on buses and trams, travelling from the North of Vienna to the Shopping City Süd, one of Europe’s largest shopping malls, which is located right outside Vienna (in the south, hence the “Süd”). Yes, I know that there’s an Ikea branch not far from where I live, but I grew up in a fairly small community in the South of Vienna, close to this shopping mall. Once every couple of years or so, I enjoy wandering the halls of this huge mall, reminiscing, then return back home after several hours completely exhausted (and vow never to return again). Anyway…

I spent an hour or so ambling through Ikea, and then checked out the store’s self-service restaurant. I ordered the Grönsaksbullar, and also chose some potato salad from the salad buffet. I loved the potato salad, I liked the Grönsaksbullar, but I hated the quionoa-mushrooms with the tomato sauce.

© Ingrid Haunold

The Grönsaksbullar didn’t live up to all the hype, but they were okay. I would order them again. It’s the only vegan dish on offer at Ikea, so vegans have little choice, whether they like it or not. Nevertheless, I am hugely appreciative of Ikea’s efforts to introduce at least one plant-based dish on its menu. I want to support that, so I’ll order them again. But I didn’t buy a bag of frozen Grönsaksbullar, which are available at their store. I simply wasn’t that crazy about them.

The quinoa-mushroom side dish was a disaster. The quinoa was cooked in way too much water, the quinoa seeds were mushy and soggy. Quinoa is not a grain, it is the seed of the Chenopodium plant. So don’t cook it like you would cook a grain like rice. Use less water! Perfectly cooked quinoa should be fluffy and not mushy. Even worse, the quinoa-mushroom dish was prepared with little or no salt, no other spices seemed to have been used for seasoning, and it didn’t taste much like anything. It really wasn’t very good, I simply couldn’t eat it. Half of it went in the trash.

The worst thing you could do, of course, is add any sort of fluids to the cooked quinoa, so tomato sauce is a big no-no for any dish that is served with quinoa. Grönsaksbullar with mushy quinoa-mushrooms and tomato sauce is not an inspired dish. Nutritionally balanced, yes. Did I like it? No.

Here’s hoping that Ikea will tweak the recipe, that the store’s kitchen staff will learn how to prepare quinoa properly, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that in the future Ikea will give customers the option to order just the Grönsaksbullar (without a side-dish). Paired with some potato-salad from the salad buffet, this would have been a very good meal indeed.

I hope that Ikea will introduce vegan desserts in the future – all those tortes and cakes, and I couldn’t eat one of them! Vegan sandwiches would be lovely. Soy or rice milk for coffee would be very welcome, too. Consider this my wish list for Santa Clause.

After I had lunch at Ikea, I spent another hour or so shopping at their store. I spent roughly 50 Euros on various items from their home decor section, and bought several Christmas presents there. I deliberately spent money at Ikea, because the store makes an effort to accommodate vegan customers. There’s a lesson here for other furniture chain stores and various other stores with in-house restaurants: Vegans get tired and hungry, too, and we’re very loyal customers! If there’s nothing for us to eat at your restaurants and cafes, then we will spend our money elsewhere.

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Veggie Bräu (Stockerau, Austria)

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated Jul 11, 2016. Inactive links were removed on November 28, 2021.

Now that I finally published The Vegan Tourist: Vienna and The Vegan Tourist: Wien, I thought I’d get back to reviewing restaurants outside of Vienna. After all, this site is called The Vegan Tourist.

Veggie Bräu is a vegetarian pub in Stockerau, a city in the state of Lower Austria, which is one of the nine states that make up the country of Austria. Stockerau is located north of Vienna, the country’s capital, you can reach it in about half an hour from Vienna by car (or train, or bus).

© Ingrid Haunold

Thomas and Christa Böhm, who own Veggie Bräu, also own a small organic farm, and most of the grains and vegetables, which are used to prepare the dishes at the pub, come from this farm.

The pub is located next to a small city park. In the summer, you can sit in the wonderful, fairly large Schanigarten.

You can order many kinds of vegan, mostly organic drinks (non-alcoholic unfiltered juices, beer, wine, etc.). I ordered “Radler,” which is beer mixed with lemon juice.

The food menu is fairly large for a pub, and there are several vegan choices. We ordered “Knofibrot,” toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic (4.50 Euros). Unfortunately, it wasn’t very garlic-y, that bread could have used a lot more garlic.

© Ingrid Haunold

We also shared a Burger with vegan cheese (7.30 Euros) and a “Veggie Snack” (4.50 Euros). On the photo, you can see half a Burger and half a Veggie Snack. The Burger is served hot, with a carrot-lentil patty and sliced onions, the Veggie Snack is served with a cold slice of vegan lunch meat. They are both prepared with salad and a vegan French Dressing. Both the Burger and Veggie Snack could have used more veggies and more dressing – I mostly remember eating bread. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a revelation, either.

The pub accepts only cash, no debit or credit cards.

Address Veggie Bräu: Schulgasse 8, 2000 Stockerau
Opening Hours: Mondays – Thursdays 6:00 PM – 12:00 midnight, Fridays – Saturdays 6:00 PM – 02:00 AM.
Phone: +43-(0)2266-72604
Email: veggie-braeu(at)
Website (watch the “ä”): http://www.veggie-brä

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Kochkiste (Mödling, Austria)

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated July 18, 2016.

Kochkiste is a small vegetarian bistro in the city of Mödling, which is located in the state of Lower Austria. It’s a five minute walk from the city’s train station to the bistro, and it takes about 20 minutes by train to get there from Vienna, Austria’s capital.

Kochkiste offers a so-called Mittagstisch: one kind of soup and one entrée are prepared each day (Monday – Friday) as daily specials. Most days, both the soup (3.60 Euros) and entrée (small: 6.50 Euros, large: 8.20 Euros)  are either vegan or can be veganized. You can also order small (5.10 Euros) or large (8.20 Euros) mixed salads from a salad buffet.

© Ingrid Haunold

The daily specials typically consist of grains (couscous, bulgur, polenta, etc.), rice or potatoes, and veggies. I ordered a slice of “Polenta Pizza,” which was one of the daily specials that day. Polenta was used instead of pizza dough, and a creamy soy-based sauce was used as a topping instead of cheese. The vegetables were either stewed or boiled and seasoned with oregano, which was a disappointment. I do like mildly seasoned food, but the Polenta Pizza was a bit too bland even for my taste. Roasted or grilled vegetables would have made a huge difference, and more herbs and spices would have improved the dish as well.

In addition to the daily specials, you can order three or four other dishes from a standard menu, which are always available. Kochkiste offers organic – but not necessarily vegan – beer and wine, you can also order unfiltered (and therefore vegan) organic fruit juices.

The food wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t impressed either. My friend, who ordered veggie patties from the standard menu, did enjoy her food. I have to go back some time, and give Kochkiste another try.

© Ingrid Haunold

Inside the bistro, there are only a couple of high tables and bar stools for seating. But Kochkiste has a Schanigarten, an outdoor seating area, during the summer, where you can sit and eat your food. Please note that there are no customer bathrooms, and you can only pay with cash.

Address Kochkiste: Hauptstraße 30, 2340 Mödling
Opening Hours: Mondays – Fridays 11:00 AM – 6:30 PM (closed Saturdays, Sundays, and on public holidays).
Phone: +43-(0)699-1842 1020

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Legumium (Wiener Neudorf, Austria)

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated August 9, 2016.

Legumium is a small vegetarian – mostly vegan – bistro in Wiener Neustadt, in the state of Lower Austria. Wiener Neudorf is located about thirty minutes (by car or train) south of Vienna, Austria’s capital.

© Ingrid Haunold

The bistro only has two tables for customers inside the restaurant, but it has a lovely Schanigarten, an outdoor seating area, where you can enjoy your lunch in the summertime. Legumium has a small menu, it offers three or four different soups (4.80 Euros) and entrees (7.50 Euros)  as weekly specials. You can also order wraps, a gluten-free burger, sandwiches, a mixed salad, a couple of desserts, and a few other snacks. All the dishes are available for take-away, and Legumium offers a delivery and catering service.

© Ingrid Haunold

Many of the bistro’s dishes are prepared with homemade vegetable spreads – called Legummus – which you can purchase. The restaurant uses many organic and regional ingredients, take-away dishes are sold in reusable glass containers, and the electricity for the restaurant is produced through solar panels installed on the restaurant’s roof.

During my visit, I ordered a cold melon soup, which was very refreshing, and a sweet potato-coconut-risotto, which was also very good.

© Ingrid Haunold

Address: Bahnstraße 6A, 2351 Wiener Neudorf
Phone: +43-(0)-2236-22 23 22
Opening Hours: Mondays – Fridays 12:00 noon – 5:00 PM, closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and on public holidays. Shorter opening hours apply during the summer months, and the bistro is closed for a few weeks during the wintertime.

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Menu Review: Jamie’s Italian Vienna Downtown – Stuck in the 20th Century

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated May 3, 2018. Inactive links were removed on November 28, 2021. The restaurant is no longer in business.

I don’t review many non-vegetarian restaurants on this site. I do make an exception whenever I can’t find any veggie restaurants during my travels, like in Fažana, Croatia, or on the Spanish island of Menorca. But as a general rule, I try to promote vegan and vegetarian businesses on this website.

However, I got curious when I heard that Jamie Oliver was opening one of his Jamie’s Italian” restaurants in Vienna. He’s a likeable guy, and I frequently watch reruns of his cooking shows on the telly, even though he rarely prepares vegan dishes; but I like his no-nonsense approach to cooking, I support his fight against childhood obesity, and his efforts to cut down on food waste. I also love Italian food, so I was all set to go and check out his new restaurant.

Then I read the menu (posted on the restaurant’s website, accessed on May 2, 2018) and changed my mind. For vegans, there’s simply no reason to eat there. There are a few “Quick Nibble” items on the menu, which appear to be vegan – like giant green olives -, but not much else.

There isn’t a single vegan “Antipasti” dish, the restaurant’s “Seasonal Vegetables” – offered as one of their “Famous Planks” –  is served with two kinds of cheeses. I also couldn’t identify a single vegan pasta dish. Most fresh pasta is made with eggs, but even a pasta dish which looks like it might be prepared with dried durum wheat (no-egg) pasta, like the “Penne Arrabbiata” dish, is served with breadcrumbs, which always raises flags for vegans. Breadcrumbs might or might not be vegan, it’s hard to tell without talking to the chef. The restaurant has a pizza menu, but again, there are no vegan choices. The “Secondi Menu” is all about meat and fish, a single vegetarian item – the “Super Green Veggie Burger” – comes with cottage cheese and is served on a brioche bun. (Brioche dough is usually made with eggs). Then there are the salads, all four options contain cheese in addition to other non-vegan ingredients (yoghurt dressing, honey, salmon). On the dessert menu, you’ll find “Sorbet”, but this raises flags for vegans as well, as sorbets might not just contain water, fruit and sugar but also thickening agents, which are often not of vegan origin.

The restaurant does offer to accommodate customers with special dietary needs. “We are happy to help with any dietary requirements and will find a solution in our restaurants for most requests. Please feel free to call us before your visit to discuss or speak to your server when you arrive.” Pardon me, but that’s just not good enough. Call ahead? Find a solution for my request? As a vegan customer, I don’t want to call ahead or ask the restaurant’s staff, if they can prepare a dish for me without cheese, yoghurt, eggs, meat or fish. If there are no vegan dishes on a restaurant’s menu, I don’t want to eat there. If a restaurateur can’t be bothered to put even a few vegan dishes on the menu, I am spending my money elsewhere.

When I think about the menu at “Jamie’s Italian Vienna Downtown,” I can’t help but think that the concept for this restaurant is oh-so-20th century. Jamie Oliver and his mentor and business partner Gennaro Contaldo both learned their craft in the 20th century, at a time when no-one had ever heard of climate change. But in the 21st century, when it is well known that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are a huge contributor to climate change, everyone needs to adapt and change their habits and behaviour. This includes restaurants, which need to serve smaller portions of meat and fish, use fewer eggs and less cheese and yoghurt, and serve more vegan dishes. I do wonder whether all these famous TV chefs, who learned their craft in the 20th century when most meals focused on meat and fish, even know how to prepare dishes without animal products.

Again, I do like Jamie Oliver, and I hope that he will eventually make changes to the restaurant’s menu. To quote once again from the restaurant’s website: “Jamie and our team are constantly working on developing the menu and concept with creativity, simplicity and quality at the heart of everything we do – and of course, the desire to give all our customers an experience that reflects our love and passion for the Italian way of life.” The Italian way of life is simple, and there are many Italian vegan recipes to choose from. Let’s hope that Jamie Oliver will update his restaurants’ menus to reflect the problems and challenges of the 21st century.

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