VEGETARIAN RESOURCE GROUP

For Immediate Release April, 20, 2009
Contacts: Jeannie McStay (410) 366-VEGE
John Cunningham (410) 366-8343

TOP NINE RESTAURANT CHAINS FOR VEGETARIANS

According to a Vegetarian Resource Group Zogby poll, when eating out, 6.7% of the U.S. population always chooses vegetarian meals, while 40.3% of Americans sometimes order a dish without meat, fish or fowl. (See http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2008issue3/restaurantpoll.pdf) So, for all these customers, what are the top restaurant chains for vegetarians?

In order to be "100% safe," some vegetarians may make the decision to never eat out or only eat in vegetarian restaurants. However, most vegetarians want to patronize chains which attempt to meet their needs, even though it's possible for an accidental mistake to be made at a restaurant that serves meat.

The Vegetarian Resource Group looked at the 400 largest restaurant chains in the United States. Nine chains appeared to give the best effort at wanting to attract vegetarians as compared to other chains. Though vegetarian restaurants may be a safer bet for people eating meatless meals, vegetarians may choose the chains because they like the food, convenience, atmosphere, or want to go out with their non-vegetarian friends or relatives.

If you would like to vote for YOUR favorite restaurant chain for vegetarians, go to www.vrg.org. You can also find a list of over 2,000 U.S. restaurants with vegetarian menus at this website, as well as more details about the restaurants below at www.vrg.org.

In alphabetical order, the top restaurant chains for vegetarians are:

CHIPOTLE: Almost 300 restaurants are scattered throughout the United States. They feature Black Bean Tacos, Fajita Burritos, Guacamole, Salads, Salsa and Chips, and a Vegetarian Black Bean Burrito. Chipotle lists on their website which menu items are vegetarian. The guacamole does not contain gelatin or dairy. However, beware that the pinto beans are prepared with bacon. The rice, soft flour tortilla, and corn shell do not contain animal products.

FRESH CHOICE: These are mainly located in California, Texas, and Washington State. They have a list of menu items called Vegan Vegetarian which contains dozens of dishes, such as Asian Vegetable Medley, Spicy Thai Noodles with Marinated Tofu, and Vegetarian Jambalaya. Fresh Choice said they don't claim to be a vegetarian restaurant, but their 50-foot salad bar and soup arcade is conducive to offering many vegetarian items, including tofu.

The company has used the word vegetarian since its beginning, about 20 years ago. The term "vegan" was introduced about 15 years ago. Every item is not available at each location.

MOE'S SOUTHWEST GRILL: They are scattered throughout about 34 states, but are not in California or the Northwest. Vegetarian items include Art Vandalay Burrito, Personal Trainer Salad, and Unanimous Decision Taco. Tofu can be included in any menu item upon request. Moe's stated that their beans and rice contain no animal products and are prepared separately from the meat products. Their guacamole and sour cream do not contain gelatin.

NOODLES AND COMPANY: Vegetarian items include Bangkok Curry, Chinese Chop Salad, House Marinara (cheese omitted), Indonesian Peanut Sauté, Japanese Pan Noodles (with vegetables), Penne Rosa, Thai Curry Soup, and Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine (cheese omitted). Vegetable broth is used to sauté vegetables. Tofu may be added to any dish. Noodles and Company does not label specific dishes as vegetarian and does not make any claims about having vegan dishes because of differing opinions about certain ingredients in the vegan community. Note that their Pad Thai is not vegetarian and contains fish sauce.

PEI WEI ASIAN DINER: Items on their menu that are noted as vegetarian include Blazing Noodles, Edamame, Pei Wei Spring Rolls, Soba Miso Rice Bowl, Spicy Korean Signature Dish, Sweet and Sour Signature Dish, Thai Dynamite Signature Dish, and Teriyaki Bowl. Items can be ordered with tofu. Their rice is prepared separately from all other ingredients.

To see the rest, plus more detailed information, go to http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2008issue4/whos_veggie_friendly.html

A vegetarian does not eat meat, fish or fowl. A vegan is a vegetarian who does not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs. For this report we relied on information supplied by the restaurant chains. If you are a vegetarian, you should always double check and use your own judgment as ingredients and recipes often and quickly change and mistakes can easily be made. Note that these are not vegetarian restaurants and you can't guarantee that items will be appropriate for vegetarians.

VRG is a nonprofit group. For more information on vegetarian and vegan diets, our two $5,000 college scholarships for high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism, and information about vegetarian restaurants across the country, visit www.vrg.org. Readers may also be interested in Meatless Meals for Working People ($12), which contains over 100 easy vegetarian recipes, plus information about eating out. For information, call (410) 366-8343 or visit www.vrg.org.

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