Although these suggestions apply to many topics, we’re happy to share we’ve been successful in changing what some local stores and restaurants carry with respect to vegan fare. We’ve been able to convince one of our local restaurants to serve Daiya cheese as well as Vegenaise, in addition to adding vegan/vegetarian appetizers and entrees to the menu (Z Cafe). We have also noticed vegan options have expanded at our local grocery store (Major Market) – they now carry Daiya, some organic tofu, and organic, non-GMO, non-dairy yogurt. Voting with your dollars really works (although we’re not taking all the credit).
Here are a few quick tips to get what you want:
1. If you see something featured, that your local store doesn’t normally carry, buy it! If you show them that the product moves off the shelf, they’ll be more inclined to repurchase it and keep that item stocked.
2. Tell them. We mentioned to our local health store/eatery (Rocky Peak Farms) that they should try Daiya cheese instead of other non-dairy cheeses because we believe it tastes and melts better. They now carry it. And it’s one of their big sellers! Moral? Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean a) they won’t carry it and b) it won’t sell.
3. Spread the word! If you find something surprising, like Gardien, in your local grocery store, tell your friends and family. This way, the grocer will recognize there is a real demand for this “vegan stuff”. The same goes for restaurants that are willing to offer vegan options. Many may not list vegan options on their menu until they recognize there’s a demand. Bring your friends in, introduce them to the servers, chef/s, and owner/s if possible.
4. Don’t be shy. Specifically ask restaurants if they plan on adding vegan options to their menu. I kindly hammered one of our regularly-attended local eateries long enough that they actually created items that are now advertised as “vegan friendly”. You might be surprised to learn that many chefs like the challenge. So maybe they still don’t carry vegan dessert — but hey — baby steps!
5. Break bad habits. Don’t buy things that aren’t in line with your beliefs. If something has corn syrup or lactose in it, don’t buy it — even if there are no alternatives at that particular restaurant/grocery store. Eventually, vendors either get it, and start carrying alternative items, or they don’t get your business. Also, train yourself to not make compromises with your health. Many stores and restaurants are willing to work with you if you simply ask.
These simple, basic approaches have worked for us – we have witnessed a change in what our local grocers carry and restaurants offer. We’ve even found that Target is carrying some organic food now, so the message must be getting out (we have also heard WalMart carries some organic items too!). Voting with your dollars really, truly works.
Do you have a suggestion that has worked for you? Any specific experience that you’d like to share? Please leave a message in the comments section.