The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Olive Garden’s® Breadsticks Are Vegan

Posted on October 20, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubo, MS

A long-time VRG vegan supporter called us to report a verbal exchange with a Whittier, CA Olive Garden employee that had left her confused about the breadsticks. She asked us to look into it.

Our member told us that she often asks ingredient questions when dining out even after searching through restaurant websites for ingredient information and ingredient lists. She referred to Olive Garden’s vegan list which contains the breadsticks in the top spot.

Our supporter found her Olive Garden server to be “courteous and helpful.” She was surprised that, even without asking for it, her server volunteered the information that “the breadsticks have butter but can be ordered without it.”
The VRG sent Olive Garden a message about this apparent contradiction on behalf of our member through the chain’s website contact form. This is what we asked in August 2017:


I was at an Olive Garden restaurant and the server told me that the breadsticks had been cooked with butter.

I see breadsticks listed on your vegetarian/vegan list as “vegan.”

Do you use margarine to cook the breadsticks? Does the margarine have dairy in it (including whey)?

Can I get just plain breadsticks without butter or margarine used to cook them?

A Guest Relations Representative informed us during a phone call:
“It was the server’s mistake. There is no butter in the breadsticks. They are not cooked with butter or margarine. Margarine and garlic salt are added later. Diners can request that it not be added. Butter is never served with breadsticks.”

We asked if any dairy ingredient such as whey or sodium caseinate were in the margarine. We also asked if there were any sugar in either the breadsticks or margarine. Lastly, we wanted to confirm that L-cysteine, a common dough conditioner that is often derived from human hair or poultry feathers, was not in the breadsticks.

After their researching, we were told in an email: “In regards to our breadsticks, they do not contain whey, sodium caseinate, or sugar.”

We were told in another phone call that “The breadsticks do not contain L-cysteine.”

Additionally, we were told in emails that:
“Margarine that’s brushed on top of the bread sticks does NOT contain dairy ingredients, whey, sodium caseinate, or any other form of caseinate such as potassium caseinate.”

“Margarine brushed on top of bread sticks does not contain sugar ingredient.”

Interested vegetarians and vegans may be interested to read other relevant information that Olive Garden has arranged on a page especially devoted to answering common vegetarian and vegan questions:

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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. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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