Guest poster Brenna shares her experience interacting with Pei Wei regarding the vegan status of their food, an example of an all-too-common occurrence facing vegan diners.
Brenna writes -
Here's some info to add to their list of items marked "vegetarian."
The conversation started with me complimenting them and thanking them for modifying vegetarian menu items to be vegan. (I have an allergy to dairy, and so it's extra important to me to make sure my food is vegan, or I will get sick.)
PEI WEI: We actually do not claim any of our food is vegan friendly.
ME: "Vegetarian" would imply that you all do not use animal additives in the products. As long as the products also do not contain dairy or egg, then they are vegan. If you use animal additives but no meat, it is still not vegetarian in any case.
PEI WEI: There are a few reasons why we do not claim our food is vegan. The first is the sugar. Most processed sugar is not vegan, and the second are our woks. We cook all our dishes in the same woks, and we do not have a dedicated wok for just vegetables and/or tofu dishes.
ME: Refined sugars which use animal bone char are not vegetarian, either. Vegetarians eat no animal products or additives but include dairy, egg, and honey. Do those products marked "vegetarian" include sugar made from bone char?
PEI WEI: We are checking for complete accuracy, but we are fairly certain that the sugar is standard refined sugar.
ME: Then it isn't vegetarian or vegan. Thank you for checking.
I try not to sound rude when talking to restaurants about their food and ingredients, but this irritates me. Sometimes it seems like people purposefully try to be oblivious to the fact that vegetarians and vegans don't eat any part of an animal's body or anything that touches part of a dead animal. Sugar is refined through bone char from animals, which makes it neither vegetarian nor vegan. I am by no means a "perfect" vegan, but I don't like false claims made to entice people to buy a product. :/