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Traveling

Posted by tinako on June 28, 2010

We went to visit family for the weekend.  It was a shorter trip so I didn’t end up cooking much.  Friday we were on the road so we stopped at a Panera Bread we have scoped out.  They have a menu option that lets you pick two out of three: soup, half sandwich, and half salad.  I had a cup of vegetable soup, no pesto, and half a Mediterranean Veggie, no feta, on multigrain which I just found out has honey as well.  Their nutrition calculator is a pain to use if you want to scan for ingredients, but I now have figured out the vegan loaves: country loaf, stone-milled rye, and sesame semolina, with the rye having double the fiber of the others.  My daughter had the soup and the salad, which is naturally vegan.  We both had baked potato chips with it.

I had contacted Panera asking them to make it clearer on their nutrition info which items were vegan (they already mark vegetarian), but they said they felt that the definition of vegan was too variable.  Here’s what they said:

By definition, “Vegan” means foods with NO animal products: NO meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy (including whey and casein) nor their by-products. Some strict “Vegans” may even avoid honey, white sugar, beer, vinegar and yeast. So we do not label any of our products as specifically Vegan because of these various differences of opinion.

We do list all the ingredients of all our menu items on our website (and in notebooks in our bakery-cafés, which are available for viewing on request), so we leave it up to you to check on specific items to see if they fit your own definition of “Vegan.”

I mean to get back to them and did a little looking.  Who on earth has been telling them that beer (unless it actually contains animal parts), vinegar and yeast are not vegan?  I could find no reference to this issue anywhere on the internet, and several FAQs saying they are vegan.  Yeast (which is used to make bread, beer, wine, and vinegar) is a fungus.  Of their “questionable” list, IMHO they should call honey non-vegan, because many vegans will be annoyed if it is included in “vegan” items, but leave off white sugar, which I think most vegans, even if they avoid it, would not assume it to be excluded.  And those silly yeast items.

Many manufacturers and restaurants manage to get past this issue, and Panera can, too, just by finding out how other businesses define vegan and following the majority.

Saturday I made a chickpea salad sandwich spread by cooking up some chickpeas I had soaked overnight [beans] and mashing them with some vegan nayonnaise, Dijon mustard, diced red pepper, and salt and pepper.  Had them on mini whole wheat bagels with lettuce and cucumbers.  Yum.  My hostesses added in melon, cherries, and grapes, and I had a can of veggie juice.

Dinner was takeout pizza.  I called the restaurant and, yes, they put a little parmesan in their pizza sauce, but none in their spaghetti sauce.  Why would a business go out of its way to put cheese in a sauce that is only ever going to be covered in cheese??  So anyway, they put spaghetti sauce and tons of veggies on my pizza, and it was delish.  For dessert I made a Cocoa Cake.

I had brought a loaf of Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, vegan margarine, and grapefruit juice, so I was all set for breakfasts.  Lunch Sunday was at my sister-in-law’s, and she put out a lovely spread that included a tossed salad, a zucchini salad, a grain salad, and a fruit salad, as well as So Delicious coconut milk mini sandwiches for after.  Everything was thoughtful and delicious.

For dinner we went to a Mexican place we’ve been before.  I split a salad and a veggie fajita with my daughter, and that worked well.  I made a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake for dessert.

Monday we drove home, eating leftovers and fruit in the car for lunch.  For dinner we took non-vegan pizza to my parents’ house, and daughter and I picked up our meals at Panera.  We had mostly the same thing only I got a salad and sandwich.

And dessert was orange popsicles of some sort – didn’t see the package.

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