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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I'm in the thick of the end-of-the-term madness and have little time right now to write a proper post.  But I thought I'd share my experience this evening eating out with my kids and my sister, her husband, and their three kids.

We went to Applebee's.  Family friendly.  Relatively affordable.  Relatively large menu.  We knew each of the kids (each picky in a different way) would actually eat something there. 

We discovered nearly immediately that the menu offers NOTHING vegan; not even anything vegetarian.  Unless you want a plain baked potato or just an order of fries, this restaurant caters exclusively to the meat-and-dairy-eating crowd.  Not a huge surprise, of course, but *most* restaurants these days have at least a pasta and vegetable option or a garden burger.  Not Applebees.

I sat there mulling my options:  cheat and eat something with dairy (as in a ceasar salad or a bowl of French onion soup) or just have a beverage and be REALLY hungry on the two-hour-long ride home.

Then I noticed the menu had a dijon chicken and portobello mushroom item that came with steamed veggies and potatoes.  Could, I wondered, they make that with more mushrooms and leave out the chicken?

I asked for that.  The cooks did a very good job and the presentation was, frankly, very attractive.   My sister, a committed omnivore eating a spinach and shrimp salad, looked over and said, "THAT looks good.  Next time I'm here, I'm ordering that, that way." 

A little vegan victory for this almost vegan.  :)


  1. I think most restaurants will respond if you ask for a vegetarian option. I, like your sister, would be eating the shrimp and spinach salad!

  2. Thanks! I'll keep this in mind if I ever go there again. I wish every restaurant offered vegan or vegetarian dishes. I'm moving to San Diego the end of this month, and I can't wait to try out the vegan restaurants there!

  3. I wonder if their Kansas roots are a reason? I was told by a Panera Bread manager many years ago that depending on the location of the headquarters, vegetarianism is not as common and often not considered. I waitressed there in college and recall even bacon on their house salad.

    I ate at a New Jersey Applebee's a year ago, and they had a veggie burger that wasn't listed on the menu. Veggie burgers are tricky to determine their "vegan-ess" and I never expect my teenage server to know. Their fajitas are easy to veganize.

    Your meal sounded delicious! Many places will give you a price reduction as well if you omit the meat (but you have to ask). An added benefit to eating veg - often cheaper than meat.

  4. My boyfriend and I go to Applebees often. It's the only time I will "cheat" with dairy. They have a veggie patch pizza (at least in California) I order it with no cheese, easy spinach artichoke dip (they put that on) and extra tomatoes and mushrooms with grilled onions on top. They also do have a veggie burger but it's not on the menu. If you look at the beer/dessert/nutrion guide smaller menu, it's listed. I think it's Morning Star. I've never ordered it. If I want a cheap microwaved garden burger, I can make it at home for 1/4 of the price, but that's just me.
    Plus you could always enjoy the chips and salsa if you are just there for some vegan beer and to wacth some football :)

  5. Hey good for you! Congrats on your decision to head toward veganism! One thing to keep in mind at restaurants, is that you can usually order several sides and make a decent meal. I am at applebees right now, and just ordered a side of fried red potatos, a side if steamed veggies, and the black bean soup, which I had her check was free as all dairy, cheese etc. yummy!

  6. Hi there! I realize that this is an old post, but wanted to give a shout out. I stopped eating meat 12 years ago, and recently starting working at an Applebee's because they were able to accommodate my busy college class schedule. I applaud you for coming up with your own veg alternative by reading the menu! Many people just ask the server what "is" vegetarian. The answer is generally "almost nothing" (especially with an ill-informed server, which there are unfortunately many of at Applebee's). I would warn, however, that you mentioned cheating on dairy with Caesar salad or french onion soup. Caesar dressing always contains anchovies and french onion soup is always made with a beef broth, so both of those items are more than just a dairy cheat. Also, always be sure in chains to ask about the contents of soups, sauces, and dressings. I learned from working here that many contain chicken fat and stock for salt/flavor. At Applebee's, this includes ALL of their soups (even tomato), the oriental chicken salad dressing, and the apple walnut chicken salad dressing. It is unfortunate that this information is not readily available for guests, so I just like to put it out in the universe whenever I get the chance. Hope this helps in future veg endeavors at Applebee's and other chains!


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