One of the things I love about Dog Almighty is that they can make almost anything on their menu vegan (I'm still a bit bummed that they don't have vegan cheese; it's ridiculously easy to get in today's market). However, my biggest complaint right now is that they advertise "Vegan Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers!" in a large jar on their counter. My friend Terri (who is omni, but *very* understanding about veganism) and I have been there several times and ask about the graham crackers each time we go. We've been told that the crackers are Honey Maid brand (and therefore not vegan, though just try telling that to the employees!) Terri sent an email to the owner of Dog Almighty, and here's what went down -
(From Terri - )
I have a question about the vegan chocolate-covered graham crackers sold at your store. I was getting dinner there when I noticed them, and remembered that my vegan friend had been lamenting about not being able to find vegan grahams anywhere, so I asked the person at the counter if he knew what brand the person who makes them (I do realize they’re made by a separate vendor) used. He told me right away “Honey Maids”, to which I replied, “Those contain honey and honey’s an animal product…that’s not vegan.” He seemed a bit perplexed and I just asked for your card, seeing as a) he could be wrong and b) he’s just a guy who works there and it’s not his fault. So, my friend and I wanted to know if we could find out if the grahams used are actually vegan…if it is just a random store brand, it’s very likely to contain honey and the product is mislabeled. I do know there are some vegans who don’t object to honey, but that’s like vegetarians who occasionally eat fish—if the product does contain honey, unsuspecting vegans should really be able to know that so they can make the choice.
Thanks so much,
Terri (and her vegan friend April)
Jenny Kress ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 4:46 PM
Subject: Re: Vegan customer question
There is honey & I thought all of my employees know to tell people that there is honey. I have found doing it this way more vegans that do eat honey (& there a lot of them that do) will get to enjoy them. Most people think that all chocolate has dairy. A "real" vegan would not wear leather either but there are a lot vegans that do wear leather. Vegans that do not eat honey will for sure ask. I do not feel there is a health danger or any risk in how they are labeled, since in the dictionary vegan simply says an extreme vegetarian.
I will not be changing the sign; however I will speak to all of my employees again, at least his info was right.
I think that the only way that Austin vegans are going to be able to get truly vegan graham crackers at Dog Almighty is for as many of us as possible to (nicely!) let Jenny know that no, we don't eat honey, vegan means "no animal products", and we'd love to see some 100% vegan deserts at her establishment.
Update the 2nd
My omni friend Abby sent an email to Jenny expressing her concern for truth in labeling -
"You'll probably laugh at my suggestion, but I just wanted to get the point across that it was misleading to say nothing... at least write *something* that would cue vegans in on the idea that this might or might not be exactly vegan. Here's my email and her response."
Subject: "vegan" grahams
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 12:22 PM
I understand you have a loose definition of vegan. I don't know a single person who calls themselves vegan who eats honey or gelatin or wears leather - if someone wears leather they are most absolutely NOT a vegan. Vegans are typically pretty rabid about their choices. If a vegan does make an exception they say they are a vegan except for x. Same with vegetarians. I know some vegetarians who say they are vegetarian except for salmon on Christmas. The vegan or vegetarian is the discloser, not the product....
I did look up the definition of vegan:
a strict vegetarian; someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all
Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans endeavor not to use or consume animal products of any kind. .
Wine is sometimes made with animal products. While wine is essentially made from grapes, on occasion animal products are used in small amounts in the production process, and these wines would not be suitable to be part of a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A person who does not consume, use or eat any animal products;
veganism - The practice of eating neither meat nor other animal products, such as fish, milk and milk products, eggs, and honey; A way of life which strictly avoids use of any kind of animal products and services that are based on exploitation of animals
Lifestyle choice which excludes the consumption and use of animal flesh and by-products.
A Vegan is an individual who avoids all animal-derived foods from their diet, including honey and gelatine.
That's just from googling "define vegan".
I hope this might help you and your customers with the confusion. Vegans are a pretty hyper sensitive group that does not like being mislead. You might wanna mention the honey thing. Maybe you can coin the phrase Honey-Vegan.... kinda like lacto-vegetarian is a vegetarian who includes dairy even though I think of that as pretty redundant... Honey-Vegan actually makes sense.... then vegans would certainly ask and not feel mislead.
(From Jenny - )
I like the honey-vegan idea... I was thinking veganish (+honey), but I like yours better!
Thanks for the constructive advice.
Also, Wes from the Vegans Rock Austin group sent an email as well -
Subject: Concerning Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 11:52 AM
Truth in advertising is important & your products should be labeled accurately in order for your customers to make informed decisions. Nabisco Original Graham Crackers do not contain honey if you are looking for an acceptable vegan replacement for your chocolate-covered graham crackers.
Thanks for your time,
From: Jenny Kress
Date: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 1:45 PM
Subject: Re: Concerning Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers
Thank You for Your constructive advice; I will try to find that particular brand.
Final Update - I have just been informed that Jenny has now replaced the sign with one that reads "Honey Vegan".