The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

TEEN Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on May 24, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Teen FAQ section on

If you are a veggie teen or know one that is thinking of becoming vegan, you may want to look at The Vegetarian Resource Group’s Teen FAQ section on our website. This information is written by veggie teens for other veggie teens and is quite useful. Some of the topics include:

Eating Out
Forming a Student Group
School Food
Social – Dealing with Family
Social – Dealing with Friends and Others

The Teen FAQ section can be found here:


Posted on May 23, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

relay, an online grocery store with a mission to make eating quality, healthy, sustainable food simple is offering an exclusive discount for you. Shop their extensive catalog of 1300+ vegan products and recipes, by going to to save $15 off your first $75+ order through 12/31/2016. Offering easy online ordering for local, organic, and everyday groceries, an integrated meal planning service, and convenient home delivery or free pick up.

Currently, Relay is a grocery delivery service for the Charlottesville, VA; Richmond, VA; Washington DC; Baltimore, MD; and the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC areas only (including surrounding areas). We are not, as yet, equipped to ship food items, but by all means, let us know if you’d like your area to be the next place Relay expands to!

Are you looking to stay at a Veg-Friendly Bed and Breakfast this Summer?

Posted on May 20, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


The Vegetarian Resource Group website has a long list of veg-friendly Bed And Breakfast establishments throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. Support these businesses!

For a full list of Veggie-Friendly B&Bs and Retreats visit:

To support the upkeep of information on VRG’s extensive website, please donate here:

Plan a Trip to Ontario, Canada and Dine in these Vegan Establishments!

Posted on May 19, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

Toronto Postcard

If you plan on visiting Ontario, Canada (including Toronto), here are some vegan restaurants/bakeries you can dine at:

Boon Burger Café
114 Dunlop St. E., Barrie, ON L4M 1A4
(705) 718-4193
Vegan/organic/fast food. Boon Burger Café offers a fresh take on fast food. Using organic and local ingredients whenever possible, the menu is all-vegan. One of their most popular items is the Thanksgiving Burger (grilled potato-crusted ‘turkey’ patty, cranberry sauce & maple-glazed yams). In addition to an extensive selection of yummy burgers, Boon also offer soups, salads, and sesame-potato fries.
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Limited service
vegan options
take-out, delivery, smoothies, special beverages

50 Dunlop St. E., Barrie, ON L4M 6J9
(705) 739-1001
Vegan/raw foods. At Rawlicious you will find raw dishes to please any pallet! On the lighter side they offer fresh juices, smoothies and salads, including a taco salad with walnut refried beans. For those interested in something more, they offer a variety of entrées including Pad Thai made with zucchini and kelp noodles and a veggie burger with all the classic fixings.
Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Full service
vegan options
fresh juices, smoothies, take-out, catering
Note: There are many other Rawlicious locations throughout Ontario, Canada.

Lettuce Love Café
399 John St., Burlington, ON L7R 2K3
(905) 637-2700
Vegan/natural foods/café/bakery/juice bar. Lettuce Love pretty much has it all! In addition to a vegan café, they have a gluten-free bakery, natural foods store, and organic juice bar. They also host cooking classes. Enjoy sandwiches, salads, wraps, bowls, soups, and more! Save room for dessert including maybe a Caramel Chocolate Brownie or Red Velvet Cupcake — all vegan and gluten-free! Lettuce Loves cares about its impact on the environment; they use organic, locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, as well as biodegradable food containers. Outdoor seating is available on their patio, decorated in pink and lime green. The café is located in downtown Burlington, only a few blocks from the lakefront of Lake Ontario.
Open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch. Closed Monday and Tuesday
Limited service
take-out, catering, fresh juices, smoothies, soymilk

Café Pyrus
16 Charles St., Kitchener, ON N2G 1H2
(519) 954-7705
Vegan/café/organic/coffeehouse. This fun and eclectic café is a great place to not only grab a bite, but it is also a great little place to hang out with friends or have some quiet time alone. Besides offering organic ingredients on their completely vegan menu, enjoy coffee, tea, and other specialty drinks, including hot and cold varieties, as well. Café Pyrus also provides magazines and board games to keep you entertained. All of this is served up in an inviting atmosphere with high ceilings, comfy couches and chairs, and local art. Check their website for more information on special events like movie nights and music shows! Cash only.
Open Monday through Saturday for three meals. Open Sunday for lunch and dinner
Counter service
take-out, espresso/cappuccino, soymilk, special beverages

Nourished on the Go
6 Simcoe St. South, Oshawa, ON L1H 4G2
(289) 923-3622
Vegan/café/eclectic. Located right down the street from Memorial Park. Nourished on the Go focuses on serving up health-conscious vegan food. The diverse menu has a selection of soups, salads, and wraps. Be sure to check out the desserts and smoothies as well. Many gluten free options available.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner. Open for lunch Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Full service
vegan options
fresh juices, smoothies, take-out, delivery

Simply Raw Express
989 Wellington St., W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Y1
(613) 234-0806
Vegan/raw foods/organic/juice bar. SimplyRaw Express is an all-vegan, organic, gluten-free, and mostly raw foods eatery. Although some seating is available, the focus here is on take-out (using all compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable containers). Made fresh daily in their kitchen, menu items include salads, wraps, quinoa bowls, raw macaroons, cheezecakes, fudge, and raw products. SimplyRaw also offers healthy lifestyles coaching and workshops.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and early dinner. Closed Monday
Counter service
take-out, fresh juices, smoothies

Rise Above Bakery
120 St. Paul St., St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M2
(289) 362-2636
Vegan/bakery/café. Rise Above Bakery, located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, is a small and eclectic bakery and café with a specialty for artisan vegan doughnuts. The café offers various soups, salads, and entrées that emphasize vegetables and legumes. Their motto is “Life’s too short to make others’ shorter,” and if you think this is witty, check out their webpage where they have shirts with the logo and motto available for purchase. Reservations are accepted.
Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Open Sunday for brunch. Closed Monday
Full service
take-out, catering, espresso, special beverages
VISA/MC, $-$$

Vegan Danish Bakery
7718 Yonge St., Thornhill, ON L4J 1W2
(905) 882-1331
Vegan/bakery. As its name implies, Vegan Danish Bakery is an all-vegan bakery! Specialties include a Danish-style vegan burger, breads, and patés as well as cakes, pastries, and marzipan.
Open Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday
Counter service
take-out, soymilk

735 Bloor St., Toronto, ON M6G 1L5
(416) 516-4555
Vegan/pizzeria. Apiecalypse Now, an award winning bakery located in West Toronto, has opened this vegan pizzeria and snack bar. In addition to pizza they offer vegan fast food, junk food, and comfort food such as corn dogs and doughnuts.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
vegan options

Apiecalypse Now! Bakery
589 Markham St., Toronto, ON M6G 2L7
(416) 532-7575
Vegan/bakery/café. This completely vegan bakery is run by an impassioned vegan activist who donates part of the profits to a variety of organizations which are also promoted with stickers throughout the store. She bakes sweets such as cookie sandwiches and fruit pies. The owner also cooks up savory dishes like vegan sausage roles and shepherd pies. Customers can buy different flavors of refrigerated homemade vegan butter, ricotta cheese, and other spreads. Make sure to look for the raccoon on the door to find your way into this delicious bakery! Homemade frozen meals gluten free soy free Non-GMO. Apiecalypse is located on the lower level and in the neighborhood of Mirvish Village.
Open Thursday through Saturday. Closed Sunday through Wednesday
delivery, catering

Cosmic Treats
207 Augusta Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2L4
(647) 352-2207
Vegan. Located in Kensington Market, Cosmic Treats offers an out of this world dining experience! Items offered on their menu are truly unique and range from sweet to savory. Start with barbecued tofu encrusted with sweet chili heat Doritos, and cool off those taste buds with banana split made with homemade cashew ice cream. Yum!
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
Full service
vegan options
beer/wine/alcohol, take-out

Cruda Café
93 Front St. East, Toronto, ON M5E 1C4
(647) 919-5721
Vegan/raw foods/organic. Cruda Café is a vibrant place that offers raw vegan food! There are a variety of refreshing dishes such as salads, soups, wraps, and desserts. Just imagine all the endless types of delicious vegetables in all the various types of wraps! Cruda is located in St. Lawrence Market, in the lower level northwest corner.
Open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Closed Sunday and Monday
Limited service
take-out, catering, fresh juices, smoothies

Doug’s Public Kitchen
561 Marlee Ave, Toronto, ON M6B 3J6
(647) 341-1736
Vegan/organic. Doug’s Public Kitchen offers a variety of creative and colorful vegan dishes with a clear emphasis on the quality and nutritional value of each ingredient. Dive into “huevos” rancheros with crisp sprouted corn tortillas, black bean hummus and cashew sour cream or the scramble platter with soft cheesy tofu and caramelized onions. Public Kitchen is located a one minute walk away from Glencairn Subway Station and has free parking.
Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Serves brunch on Sunday.
Full service
vegan options

Porter House
1321 Dundas St. West, Toronto, ON M6J 1X8
(647) 346-3000
Vegan/pub. Located in Little Portugal. Porter House features a wide variety of vegan beer, wine, and pub food. Be sure to try a plate of the Beer Battered Potato Dumplings (with beer gravy). Or go for some of the main dishes like the Quinoa Polenta or the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich. Note that the kitchen closes at 11 pm, but drinks are available until 2 am. Outdoor seating available.
Open Wednesday through Monday for dinner. Closed Tuesday.
Full service
vegan options
beer/wine/alcohol, take-out

The Goods
1255 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1X6
(647) 340-GOOD
Vegan. The Goods is a mostly raw, organic, vegan restaurant located in Toronto. It is the perfect stop on a busy day when you need a quick refuel. They offer many different smoothies, juices, and salads, including a Chuck Norris bowl that has quinoa, rice, arugula, sprouts, a sesame dressing, and much more! Most of their dishes are free of gluten, nuts, and refined ingredients as well, and they are perfect for take-out or delivery. Their menu varies daily and they also offer catering services and classes.
Open Monday through Thursday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open Friday through Sunday for brunch and dinner.
Limited service
vegan options
take-out, delivery

The Hogtown Vegan
1056 Bloor St., W., Toronto, ON M6H 1M3
(416) 901-9779
Vegan/diner. The casual atmosphere and delicious food at The Hogtown Vegan provide a great setting for vegans and non-vegans alike. The Hogtown Wings (crispy fried tofu “wings” served with hot sauce and creamy dill dip) are a flavorful favorite. The restaurant also serves up tasty gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free options. Cash only.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner. Open Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner
Full service

The Vegan Duchess
354 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4P 2E6
(416) 519-4229
Vegan/raw foods. The Vegan Duchess is a raw quick-serve restaurant with many snacks, meals, and desserts to go. Try the Falafel Wrap or the Raw Pesto Pineapple Pizza. For dessert try the Cashew Berry Cheesecake or the Apple Crumble. Be sure to check out the fresh juices and smoothies too. Limited seating available.
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday.
vegan options
fresh juices, take-out

Urban Herbivore
64 Oxford St., Toronto, ON M5T 1P1
(416) 927-1231
Vegan café/organic. Urban Herbivore is located on the first floor of a beautifully converted Victorian house in Kensington Market. They serve lots of sandwiches (barbecued tofu is a favorite) on grilled wheat multi-grain bread made at the restaurant, as well as soups (like cumin Mexican black bean) and customized salads. You can eat in, but most people elect to take out (the soups come in returnable Mason jars). The restaurant also offers muffins, cookies and brownies, as well as hot chocolate and lemonade with wild raspberries or cucumber.
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Limited service
take-out, catering, fresh juices

Vegetarian Haven
17 Baldwin St., Toronto, ON M5T 1L1
(416) 621-3636
Vegan/Asian Fusion. Vegetarian Haven serves Asian-inspired vegan cuisine. Enjoy dishes like Sizzling Eggplant Tempeh in Spicy Coconut Curry, Mushroom Tofu in Clay Pot, or Singapore Seitan. Vegetarian Haven is located at the Baldwin Village Inn in the heart of Toronto. The restaurant is closed between lunch and dinner, so please call ahead for hours.
Open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner. Open Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Closed Monday
Full service
take-out, fresh juices, smoothies, soymilk

Vital Life Vegan Restaurant
14 St. Andrew St., Toronto, ON M5T1K5
(416) 977-0640
Vegan/Caribbean. Located in Kensington Market, this vegan Caribbean restaurant serves dishes such as spinach and kale salad, mac & cheese, TVP curry, barbecued soy, stews, and more. Also enjoy their fresh beverages.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Counter service
vegan options
fresh juices, take-out

For a complete list of veggie restaurants in the USA and Canada see:

To support the upkeep of this extensive guide, please donate to The Vegetarian Resource Group at:


Posted on May 18, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

According to CBS,

“Beyond the low wages and high injury rates, the nation’s roughly 250,000 poultry workers are routinely denied bathroom breaks, leading some to wear diapers and others to not drink liquids. That’s according to a report released by Oxfam America, which details conditions that violate U.S. workplace safety laws.”


Another reason to go veggie!


Posted on May 17, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


By Hana Takemoto

My time at The Vegetarian Resource Group has been life-changing. Coming from a Japanese family in which little thought was given towards meat and fish-centric meals and where my views on animal rights and eating habits have been grudgingly permitted, an environment like VRG where people, including fellow interns, spend their days working towards educating and helping people maintain a vegan lifestyle has been incredibly refreshing, unique, and educational. Before coming to VRG, I had never met another vegan, and now, I have a long list of contacts to get in touch with after my internship if I am in need of any advice about veganism.

I’ve been a high school intern for VRG since the beginning of the school year, and as part of Atholton High School’s Gifted and Talented Intern/Mentor class, I’ve spent an average of four hours a week as an intern for VRG. Since starting, I’ve been lucky to try and review all sorts of different vegan foods, from seaweed and seitan to Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream. I’ve also added updates to VRG’s online restaurant guide and reviewed restaurants that I’ve visited, such as Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston, Illinois. Along the way, I’ve attended events including the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore and the Benefit Day at Great Sage in Clarksville, Maryland, places that have offered me opportunities to meet other people interested in veganism and to explore new areas of interest. In addition, with the help of everyone at VRG, I’ve been working on investigating the benefits and feasibility of offering vegan food options on Atholton High School’s lunch menu, a project that has involved learning about Federal guidelines, interviewing food service staff, and distributing surveys. More recently, I’ve also had the opportunity to read essays that high school students submitted for VRG’s High School Senior Scholarship Contest, an inspiring and uplifting task that I hope I can continue for the years following the end of my internship here at VRG.
Since coming to this internship, I can always appreciate the efforts VRG co-directors Charles and Debra have taken to assign me projects that are engaging and suitable to my interests, an accommodation that is unique for internships. Sure, it would be easy to search “how to be vegan” into an internet search bar, but nothing can come close to spending a school year at an internship where I am surrounded by people who have given me a great experience by doing what they do best: helping through education. As my time at VRG is nearing a close, I can say with confidence that VRG has imparted to me lasting lessons about hard work, dedication, and passion in the name of veganism.

For information about internships, see

To support VRG’s youth outreach and internships, join at

Or donate at


Posted on May 16, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor



Check out

Plan a Trip to British Columbia, Canada and Dine in a Vegan Establishment!

Posted on May 12, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

If you plan on visiting British Columbia, Canada, here are some vegan restaurants/bakeries you can try out:

Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House
8681 10th Ave., Burnaby, BC V3N 2S9
(604) 527-8138
Vegan/Vietnamese. Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House specializes in Vietnamese noodle soup. Enjoy such soups as Spicy Noodle, Vegetable Wheat Noodle, Wonton, Veggie Beef Rice Noodle, Veggie Chicken Rice Noodle, and Spinach Tofu. Everything is vegan and no MSG is used. They also offer salads, chow Mein, vermicelli, rice dishes, entrées, clay pots, and more. Paradise is closed on weekdays between lunch and dinner, so please call ahead for hours.
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday
Full service
take-out, soymilk, special beverages

106 W. 1st St., Ste. 101, North Vancouver, BC V7M 1A9
(604) 973-0231
Vegan/raw foods/organic/juice bar. Buddha-Full specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and raw foods. Menu items include raw nut burgers, raw nut cheesecake, pumpkin curried soup, and more. Try one of the many smoothies. Check out upcoming events on their website!
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and early dinner. Closed Sunday
Limited service
take-out, delivery, catering, fresh juices, smoothies

Chomp Vegan Eatery
3586 Fraser St., Vancouver, BC V5V 0B3
(604) 917-0201
Vegan/organic/gluten-free. Chomp Vegan Eatery is a 100% vegan and gluten-free restaurant featuring organic and local foods. They share space with Fairy Cakes. Selections include various wraps and salads, as well as pizza, chili, and more.
Open Wednesday through Monday for lunch and dinner. Closed Tuesday.
Full service
vegan options
take-out, catering
VISA/MC, $-$$

Edible Flours
2280 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6K 2E3
(604) 734-8351
Vegan/bakery. Edible Flours is entirely vegan and also offers gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, and sugar-free products. Ingredients are organic whenever possible, and they only use unrefined sweeteners. Enjoy such treats as cakes, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and donuts. They also serve coffee and tea. Edible Flours is a small, intimate space with some seating available. They are located in the neighborhood of Kitsilano.
Open Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday
Counter service
take-out, delivery, catering
VISA/MC, $-$$

Indigo Food Café
2589 W16 Ave., Vancouver, BC V6K 3B9
(604) 537-7288
Vegan/raw foods/organic. Indigo Food Café; serves gourmet vegan raw foods that are wheat- and sugar-free. Tasty menu items include Carrot-Curry Soup, Ukrainian Perogies, Raw Pizza, Collard Roll-ups, and Russian Borscht. They offer many raw foods cooking classes along with catering services. Indigo features live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, which is why they suggest reservations for those evenings. Outdoor seating is available.
Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday and Monday
Full service
take-out, delivery, catering, fresh juices, smoothies, special beverages
VISA/MC, $-$$

Vegan Pizza House
2119 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N 2T4
(604) 248-5336
Vegan/pizza/Italian. Vegan Pizza House offers an all-vegan menu with pizzas such as Vegan Meat Lover, Greek Special, Vegan Seafood, and Hawaiian. They also offer Spaghetti with Vegan Meat Sauce, Baked Lasagna, and Salads. Gluten-free options are also available.
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Counter service
take-out, delivery, catering

Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant
617 Johnson St., Victoria, BC V8W 1M5
(250) 380-9293
Vegan/Chinese. Located downtown, Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant is a vegan Chinese Buddhist restaurant. They offer many dishes, including Crispy Taro Rolls, Black Moss Shredded Vegetables Thick Soup, Seaweed Tomato Vegetable Tofu Soup, Shiitake Delight (battered shiitake mushrooms sautéed in a basil sauce), Mock Salmon in Peking Sauce, and Lily Bulb Delight (pan-fried lily bulbs, lotus roots, mushrooms, and snow peas). They also serve chow mein, chow fun, udon noodle dishes, and three flavors of tofu ice cream. Their pay-by-the-pound lunch buffet is a bargain.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday
Full service
reservations recommended

For a complete list of veggie restaurants in the USA and Canada see:

To support the upkeep of this extensive guide, please donate to The Vegetarian Resource Group at:

Organic Vegan Meals Delivered to Your Home or Office By Madeline St. John

Posted on May 11, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


In Trifecta Lemon Vegetable Heirloom Quinoa, a unique set of flavors come together for a surprising, delicious, and protein-filled meal. The Quinoa is spiced with flavors reminiscent of curry or Indian cuisine (garlic, parsley, basil, tarragon, coriander, turmeric, mustard seed, cumin, fenugreek, paprika, cayenne, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and sea salt.) As someone who generally has a low-tolerance for spicy food, I thought it was spiced just the right amount. The Quinoa is paired with tangy lemon juice (and grapefruit juice), and mixed in with a variety of roasted vegetables: peppers, onions, butternut squash, and a little bit of cauliflower. The butternut squash is soft and sweet while the peppers and onions add crunchiness. It is also a very colorful meal, between red, green, and yellow peppers, purple-tinged onions, butternut squash, and yellow quinoa. The portion size is hearty and the meal contains fourteen grams of protein. As an added bonus, the Quinoa is organic and without preservatives.

The meal comes in an individual serving microwavable tray. In order to prepare it, all one has to do is puncture a few holes in the plastic sheeting and stick it in the microwave for two or three minutes. It can also be heated on a stove-top or in a conventional oven. This meal is part of a meal delivery service based out of Davis, California, that offers free nationwide delivery with their meal plans.

For information, go to
Use coupon code TRYVEGAN for 30% off your first order.

Eat More Kale®: Chick-fil-A® Debuts Kale-Broccolini® Superfood Side By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Posted on May 10, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor


Eat More Kale®: Chick-fil-A® Debuts Kale-Broccolini® Superfood Side
By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Beginning in January 2016 Chick-fil-A introduced in all of its approximately 1,900 restaurants nationwide a kale-broccolini salad side dish.

The dish consists of kale and broccolini tossed in a maple vinaigrette dressing and topped with dried sour cherries. It is served with an optional blend of roasted nuts (walnuts, almonds and pecans).

Broccolini is a trademarked hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale. According to an article on the Chick-fil-A website there is only one US grower and supplier of this cruciferous vegetable, family-owned produce supplier and Certified Women Owned® Business Mann Packing® The Superfood Side dish is anticipated to use 20% of the total broccolini supply in the U.S.

The Vegetarian Resource Group spoke with Leigh Jackson of a public relations firm representing Chick-fil-A. She contacted Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist on our behalf who confirmed by email that the Superfood Side is “all-vegetable.”

Superfood Side Ingredients
We followed up with Leigh by requesting more information about the ingredients in the new menu item. On the Chick-fil-A website we found this ingredient statement:

broccolini, kale, maple vinaigrette dressing (maple syrup, soybean oil, water, brown sugar, onion ([including dehydrated], distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce [water, soybeans, salt, alcohol], balsamic vinegar, salt, spice, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate added as preservatives, maltodextrin, dextrose, canola oil, yeast extract, natural flavor, calcium disodium EDTA to protect flavor), dried cherries (cherries, sugar, sunflower oil), roasted nut blend (glazed walnuts [walnuts, sugar, natural flavor, canola oil], roasted almonds, glazed pecans [pecans, sugar, natural flavor, canola oil]).

Without our asking specifically about the sugar, this is what Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist relayed to us by email about the dressing when we inquired: “Is the maple vinaigrette dressing all-vegetable?”:

The maple vinaigrette dressing would be considered vegetarian in that it does not contain any meat-, poultry- or fish-derived ingredients. We would not consider this product vegan due to the possible use of the brown sugar being comprised of cane sugar that may have been filtered through bone char.

Sugar is also listed as an ingredient for the cherries and nuts. The VRG wished to know if the statement about the brown sugar also applied to the sugar on the cherries and the nuts. In other words, we asked if the sugar used on the cherries and on the nuts had been filtered through cow bone char.

After a few weeks Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist replied:
“I have good news to share regarding the sugar that we source to manufacture the roasted nut blend; it is indeed vegan. Thus, we have confirmation from the refineries that we source the sugar from that they are not using bone charcoal in any part of their processes.”

In light of this additional information about the sugar in the nut blend, The VRG wondered if the nutritionist’s earlier response about the brown sugar in the maple vinaigrette dressing needed to be reevaluated. So we asked again: Has Chick-fil-A confirmed with their brown sugar supplier that cow bone char was used to filter the sugar?

Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist replied a second time on this point: “We did confirm with the supplier on the brown sugar in the vinaigrette [that cow bone char filtration was possible].” No further information was provided.
Regarding how the sugar used in the cherries was processed, Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist originally stated: “We did confirm that the cherries are vegetarian but not vegan.”

We then asked Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist to clarify exactly what she had intended to say about the sugar in the cherries. We wanted to know if the statement above about the cherries implied that the sugar used on the cherries had definitely been filtered through cow bone char or possibly had been so whitened.

After a few more weeks, Chick-fil-A’s nutritionist responded to us a second time about the sugar on the cherries by informing us that

The sugar on the cherries would be classified as vegetarian, but not vegan, as the sugar has the potential to come into contact with animal products during the whitening process.

Q&A with Chick-fil-A’s Nutritionist
Here are several followup questions we asked Chick-fil-A and the nutritionist’s responses all relayed to us in a timely fashion:

Q: Is the maple vinaigrette dressing optional?
A: No, the dressing is applied to the kale and broccolini in larger portions, and then portioned into the salad bowls.

Q: Are the cherries and nuts optional?
A: The cherries are added to the larger portion recipe before serving it into the bowls so they are not optional. The nuts are optional.

Q: Was an animal-derived anti-foaming agent used to produce the maple syrup?
A: The maple vinaigrette does not contain any anti-foaming agents. Per the supplier, it is considered vegetarian.

We also wanted to know about the side dish’s preparation and Chick-fil-A’s kitchen protocols. The following is what we received by email as replies to our questions below:

Q: Are the kale and broccolini prepared without animal broths, animal fats, etc.?
A: The ingredients in the Superfood Salad are not cooked.

Q: Are the kale and broccolini prepared in pots never used for meat products?
A: The ingredients in the Superfood Salad are not prepared in pots.

Q: Are the kale and broccolini pre-prepared at a central location and delivered to restaurants or is the preparation onsite at each location?
A: The kale is pre-chopped while the broccolini arrives whole and is prepared in restaurant.

Q: How are the kale and broccolini cooked (sauteed, boiled, steamed, etc.?) or are they served raw like lettuce and hand-chopped at each location?
A: The Superfood Side is served raw.

Q: Are the kale and broccolini in this side dish prepared away from all meat products on a designated meat-free surface with sanitized, vegetable-only utensils?
A:We do prep the salad in a vegetable prep area where we prep all of our salads. I don’t know if the surface is specifically “meat free” but it is sanitized. I don’t know if the utensils are only used for vegetables, but they are clean and sanitized. We have separate prep areas for raw chicken vs. the salads, so there wouldn’t be any raw chicken in that area.

Taste Test
In April 2016 the writer purchased a Superfood Side at a surburban Maryland Chick-fil-A restaurant. Here are her comments.

Kale was the major component in the Side although broccolini is listed as the first ingredient on the statement given above. Both the kale and broccolini looked fresh. They were well-coated in the maple vinaigrette dressing but there was no excess liquid at the bottom except for a few isolated drops. There were approximately ten medium-sized cherries placed on the top of the kale/broccolini that easily could have been removed by a diner. The approximately one tablespoon of a nut blend came in a separate cellophane package.

The kale and broccolini’s natural taste was overpowered by the maple vinaigrette dressing which the writer found too acidic. At least the mildly maple flavor aftertaste compensated somewhat for the acidic vinaigrette.

The cherries sweetened up the entire dish too much for the writer’s taste so she removed most of them. The nuts enhanced the overall flavor of the Side.

The Side was packaged in a #5 plastic container. Made of polypropylene, #5 plastic is becoming more accepted at most recycling centers or look here for how to recycle #5 plastic:

The contents of this posting, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made.
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