Olive Garden--I know, right? You're thinking, Jen puh-lease! Hear me out: one dilemma that happens during a vegan transition is eating with non-vegan family members. They want their meat and dairy, and you want vegetables. It's enough to drive one crazy and deter them from adopting a vegan lifestyle. I'm here to tell you it ain't so.
I'm lucky enough to live in Bloomington, IN where you can go to any chain restaurant, tell them you're vegan, and they know what you're talking about! Please read my response below about my recent experience at our local Olive Garden:
Hi Corporate Office!
We live in a culture where we hear about what we do wrong rather than what we do right. I just wanted to take time to thank Kyle, Brian, and Francesca at the Bloomington location for their deluxe customer service on 2/18. We received a gift certificate to dine at OG and I was hesitant to eat there because I am a vegan, which means I do not consume any meat, dairy, eggs or seafood. I called in advance and was assured by Kyle that I could custom order any menu item and someone would work with me.
My family was able to eat what they wanted and I was able to join them and be a part of a nice Saturday dinner. Kyle's initial comment was "We LOVE vegans!" and that truly showed.
If Olive Garden would consider offering more vegan selections-a roasted veggie and balsamic pasta, a dairy free pesto, or spinach and tofu lasagna without cheese, you wouldn't even have to advertise it as vegan--"allergy free" often denotes the elimination of dairy and eggs. Vegans are a loyal lot and once word gets out, you'll be amazed at the response. Let me know if you have further questions.
Jen Molica, That Pain in the Ass Vegan
So readers, that's how you do it. Ask for what you want and watch the magic happen. Restaurants want business and are always willing to accommodate. I sent this letter to corporate headquarters and am hoping to get a response. Maybe OG will start offering vegan options!