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Avoiding Cross-Contact for Vegans and Vegetarians

March 25, 2014

Avoiding Cross-Contact for Vegans and Vegetarians

By Betsy Craig (CEO and founder of MenuTrinfo®)

Have you heard of ‘Meatless Mondays’?  Some restaurants are using Mondays to add a special vegetarian or vegan option to their menus. The idea behind this trend is to get people out to restaurants to try something new or to gain new customers who are vegetarian or vegan. Whether your diners are choosing dishes ‘sans’ meat to try something new or because of restrictions to their diets, it is important to prepare these dishes properly. 

At MenuTrinfo®, we talk a lot about allergy training, and how important it is to a restaurant and their customers’ health. We also sometimes talk about the health benefits of being vegetarian, or of providing more vegetarian options on a menu.

What we haven’t done, however, is talk about the fact that cooking for vegans and vegetarians is a lot like cooking for someone who has allergies.

While it’s true that some vegetarians and vegans have returned to being omnivorous without the hassle of gastric side effects it is not always the case with everyone. Usually, going back to meat involves a few days of gastrointestinal pain and discomfort.  That means if they aren’t intending on going back to being omnivorous, any meat product can make them sick. Thus, being a vegetarian or a vegan is a lot like having a meat intolerance.

When it comes to cooking with allergens such as wheat or peanuts, cooks are very careful not to cross-contact. The same care should be taken with vegans and vegetarians as well.

Even simple things that seem vegetarian may not be. Take, for example, French fries. Most French fries are fried in the same oil that fries chicken fingers and other meat products. Unfortunately, many servers and cooks don’t think about this when serving their customers and that spells a potential digestive disaster for the vegetarian or vegan eating it. Even cooking a vegan/vegetarian dish on the same grill that meat was cooked on is playing with digestive fire!

Next time someone at your restaurant informs their server they are vegetarian or vegan, make sure you take all the precautions you normally would if the customer had an allergy. Your customers will thank you for it, and keep coming back! It’s simple business sense.

Do you still need allergy training for your restaurant to avoid potential mishaps? Check out our highly recommended AllerTrain™and we’ll show you the most efficient and safe ways to keep your customers healthy, happy, and safe.