“Are your fries really vegan?”
Like most vegans, one of my go-to dinners at a non-vegan restaurant is a salad and fries. I usually try to branch out a little bit and have pasta, or veggie burrito, or something of more substance. But, let’s face it. Some restaurants have almost no options. Sometimes even that salad and fries had to be customized to keep the cheese off of the salad and the aioli off the fries.
I recently heard, though, that vegan fried food isn’t always vegan. I think my head spun a little when I heard that the first time. How could a mushroom dipped in flour, water, and spices NOT be vegan?! Or a simple slice of potato?
It’s in the oil.
Many restaurants only have one frier. On a daily basis everything they fry goes into that one vat of oil. Everything. This includes the chicken wings, the fish filets, and the mozzarella sticks. When items are pulled out of the frier, they leave behind trace amounts of meat, lard, butter, cheese, or whatever else was put into the oil. So when your fries, your mushrooms, or your falafels are dropped into the frier, there is a chance of cross contamination.
Don’t shoot the messenger, folks. I was sad when I found this out, too.
So, what can you do?
Well, you don’t have to give up vegan fried food.
First, ask the waiter if they fry everything in the same oil. Some restaurants, particularly the ones that churn out a whole lot of fries, do have dedicated friers for just fries. Yay, for those places, right?!
Second, ask what they can do to accomodate you, if you call in ahead of time. A falafel place that my husband and I frequent has two friers. They don’t use the second one on a daily basis, but if we call in and ask for fresh oil in the second frier, they’re more than happy to have it ready to go by the time we arrive.
If they only have one frier, you can also ask if they’re willing to change out the oil. Most restaurants won’t do this on the fly because it takes a while for the fresh oil to heat up. But, if you call in and ask nicely, sometimes they will do it just before you arrive. If you’re a regular at this restaurant, you may have better luck, but either way, it’s worth asking.
So, what do you think about vegan fried food?