In response to someone asking re the Worst Restaurant of the Month award for June; there is no formal award for June. There were 2 restaurants for whom we were awaiting answers to some questions we asked. Depending on the answers received (or not received) that could have drawn one of those into consideration. Thus without a fresh award being made here is an update with the responses of the three previous winners of the award.
a) Paul at Vanimal responded on 7 June. The most interesting part of his reply was this re non vegetarian cheese:-
“The brie dish you have described will be taken off the menu next month.”
So the conclusions to draw from this seem to be:-
* the brie indeed as suggested is unsuitable for vegetarians
* They were not taking an unequivocal immediate action to protect the vegetarian integrity of their customers from further violation
* They will instead continue to retail the brie to their customers for at least 3 and a 1/2 and up to possibly 8 further weeks
Are these guys for real? They made a blunder that was highlighted to them months ago. They tried to get away with it until the May Worst Restaurant of the Month award brought them some negative attention. Instead of tackling the highlighted issue when the award was made, they are instead going to continue retailing the brie?
Is this because?
* they have brie in stock
* protecting their customers’ vegetarian philosophy isn’t Vanimal’s number one concern
* they are instead so mean that they prefer to continue feeding their customers a non vegetarian food product until they run out of that product
I would be genuinely astonished if the people managing Vanimal are vegetarian themselves.
b) The majority of their quite lengthy reply is worthless nonsense. Its rambling PR baloney that does nothing to address the concerns highlighted to them. At no point in their reply do they even mention the concern highlighted to them re numerous alcoholic drinks being non vegetarian.
What they do also include in their reply is an invite in for some free food. Free food is a technique mentioned on this website before, namely:-
* someone is giving a restaurant some kind of a profit impacting issue
* the restaurant invites the person in for some free food and drink
* the issue goes away
Rather than accept the free food offer, Vanimal were given a detailed reply again requesting that they address the concerns highlighted to them.
Re trying to sweeten someone with free food as mentioned re Vanimal above; as described previously Khana Khazana have also attempted to play the free food card in the past.
In reply to the Khana Khazana Worst Restaurant of the Month award, no response was received from them. In that award it was suggested Khana Khazana’s tagline should be something like:-
* Khana Khazana: proudly determined not to verify what we sell is vegetarian.
No response has been received to the comments accompanying their Worst Restaurant of the Month award. Thus it seems that this suggested tagline is accepted on their part.
3) Inno Veggie
Tina at Inno Veggie gave us a reply at least some of which is constructive.
a) They acknowledged the concern re Glacio ice cream and instead were evaluating using Happy Cow ice cream (not only vegetarian but also vegan)
b) Tina gave a good rebuttal re their mozzarella cheese. The case against their mozzarella was based on the Devondale cheese website. Specifically:-
* Go to the Devondale cheese website and look at the block of the first six cheeses they list
* On clicking each individually, the first five cheeses clearly have the claim, “suitable for vegetarians”
* The sixth cheese listed is mozzarella
* For mozzarella there is no such claim of vegetarian suitability
* Thus the clear implication is the mozzarella is non vegetarian
A screenshot taken from each of the six pages is below.
However Tina has sent through a picture of Devondale Mozzarella on which the packaging is clearly labelled “suitable for vegetarians”.
On the subject of cheese Tina also sent over some pictures of other dairy products used by Inno Veggie. This was enquiring if the products in question are vegetarian. One of these products was a lacto cheese:-
* President Light processed cheese slices
I have very limited knowledge of President Light slices (nor any of the other dairy products Tina asked about). Anyone who read the original Worst Restaurant of the Month awarded to Vanimal may recall mention of President using rennet in at least some President brand cheese. Thus there is obviously some risk for lacto vegetarians re President Light processed cheese slices until confirmed otherwise.
Even with lacto vegetarian marketed cheese there are concerns re the setting agent in the cheese. As mentioned in the HK veg article on cheese:-
* “Fermentation-Produced Chymosin: FPC involves the GMO industry. Animal rennet was used as source for a genetic material that was then spliced into a yeast DNA. This has been increasingly used by the dairy industry to produce cheese since 1990 without a dependence on fresh animal rennet.”
We also quoted VRG’s article on cheese:-
* “The writer observed while working on this update that companies manufacturing bioengineered FPC produced originally through animal gene splicing use the phrase “microbial rennet” to describe their product. They refer to them as “acceptable to vegetarians.” They also use “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” to describe their products.”
Quite simply cheese for lacto vegetarians is a treacherous minefield. Tina mentioned Inno Veggie were considering using a vegan cheese brand such as Sheese. We are very interested to hear how that went.
c) There was no mention of anything in Tina’s reply to address the highlighted concern of their menu misleading customers their mock meat doesn’t contain egg.
(Inno Veggie mock meat contains egg. Their menu misleads re this)
We can offer a contrast to the Inno Veggie issue re their incorrect diet suitability labeling on their menu. On going to a restaurant in Causeway Bay (who we won’t name at the moment as we await a reply from them re a second question), we ascertained the menu had short comings. Specifically:-
* some dishes on the menu were marked with an egg icon
* other dishes didn’t have the egg icon
* some dishes on the menu contained egg but had no accompanying icon
When we asked in the restaurant in Causeway Bay we were told to take this up with their head office. We did so. The highlighted point was acknowledged by the head office person as a concern. They corrected the menu without needing to be asked twice. If one restaurant can fix such an issue, what is stopping Inno Veggie?
We welcome further updates from any of the restaurants mentioned.