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Salty Oily Restaurant Food

Posted by tinako on March 24, 2012

I was talking to a friend recently about a bad experience with takeout from my favorite Chinese restaurant: undercooked (vegan of course) food which I should have spit out but unfortunately swallowed (though I did throw the rest away – it was so gross), and then the bad stomachache I had late that night.  This is a very reputable restaurant, its food a class above an ordinary Chinese place, and they are very accommodating to vegans and celiacs, etc.  I wouldn’t have expected to have a problem there.  I commented that I can’t remember the last time my own cooking gave me an upset stomach, but that it wasn’t all that infrequent that I would have a stomachache or nausea after eating out, maybe one in ten or fifteen times.  A few minutes later I commented that I had really started noticing lately how oily and salty restaurant food is.  She agreed, but also helped me put it together:

Maybe it isn’t contamination making me ill sometimes.  Maybe it’s all that oil that my stomach is not used to.  I’ve talked to several other people since then and they’ve agreed that it’s a problem.  One friend said he’d tried to ask for less oil but it didn’t really work out.  There’s only one vegan restaurant in our city and every vegan I’ve spoken to says they don’t want to eat there again because the food is drowning in oil and so salty.  I’ve been there four times and I’m done.  The head of RAVS said she asked the cook to tone it down, I think when she was planning an event there where he would be cooking just for us, and he refused, saying the oil was an important part of the flavor.  She said the oil bothered her stomach some but her husband’s a lot, and he just didn’t feel that eating out was a treat any more.

I’m not even picking on the oil and salt from a health perspective; I get going out for a special treat.  But this doesn’t taste good.  When your noodles are glistening and dripping, when you avoid ordering fried or saucy things or ask for less oil but there’s still a slick on your plate, it’s too much oil.  When a dish (I’m talking to you, Coconut Kale at Natural Oasis) is so salty all ten people at the table agree it’s unpleasant, it’s too much salt.


3 Responses to “Salty Oily Restaurant Food”

  1. Agreed! Certain restaurants that I used to enjoy I’ve left behind a long time ago.

    Part of the problem we face (well, maybe a lot of the problem) is that as vegans we represent a tiny portion of the population. As vegans concerned about the health aspect of our food (not just the compassionate aspect of it) we represent an even tinier portion of the population. Despite our best efforts, restaurant owners know that it’s in the best interest of their business to sell what the vast majority of Americans crave: oily, sugary, salty foods. Especially because 99% of restaurants fail within their first few years, improving the health of their menus carries a huge risk factor – one that few restaurants are willing to take in a tough economy. Even if you and I visited regularly, “Steamed Broccoli Hut” just wouldn’t attract enough numbers to remain viable.

    The positive side to all this is that these places can play host to the transitional phases of other people too. As we moved from omni to veggie to vegan we needed places that blurred those lines and eased the transition. Once we’ve completed that journey we no longer need those in-between places, but I’m glad they’re still around for the many people that will join us.

    • tinako said

      I see your point. Though I’m not sure why restaurants can’t have an awareness of the problem and offer a few minimal-oil dishes or have a plan to alter their dishes on the fly. I guess, like you, I just have to put these restaurants in the category with Applebees, “restaurants which have nothing that appeals to me.”

      Anyway, you do a good job of reminding me to quit my whinin’. 🙂

      • I don’t think of this as whining at all – these are legitimate concerns! Imagine how healthy Americans would be if we made a few simple changes to our diet. Imagine if such a huge portion of our incomes didn’t go to healthcare! We can so easily take control of these things by making smarter choices. It’s not even a matter of giving up good taste, or giving up low cost, it’s simply choosing differently. I’m with you: that’s not too much to ask. But change is easier for some than for others. In that regard, we’re the trailblazers I suppose. Keep on blazin’!

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