Vegetable soup should be vegetable soup


There comes a time in every vegan’s life when they’re stuck at an unfamiliar restaurant, whether it be a last resort after a long day or the place of choice between friends planning to meet. Trying to make the best of it, the vegan will scan the menu for something to eat of substance- not fries, not salad. They’re hungry, and they need something nutritious. Then, it appears:

Chef’s vegetable soup contains: zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and seasonings.

The feeling is bittersweet. First, a flash of hope that a viable option was found- then floods in reality. The waiter approaches and it’s time to ask what they already know, “What kind of broth do you use?”

“Chicken.”

“I’ll take the fries.”

As someone who follows a plant-based diet, it disappoints me how many times this has happened. Sometimes I’ll ask why they choose not to use vegetable broth and I’ve received a variety of answers, but the one that stood out: “Our recipe has been passed down for generations.”

The truth? It’s not just vegans who would benefit by the slight change of a recipe- it’s the people who have allergies to certain meats. It’s the people who have high levels of cholesterol and order something like vegetable soup thinking it doesn’t contain any.

It’s easy to write off the need for an entirely plant-based dish due to something generational. Albeit, the owners of the restaurant probably have never given it a second thought before I asked and that was the easiest explanation they could offer. But in response, I propose that if we stop thinking about others, we stop innovating. If we mindlessly continue the traditions of our great-grandparents, there would be nothing offered to those with specific needs. Say goodbye to non-dairy products for those who follow a vegan diet or for the 70% of the world’s population that simply cannot digest dairy. Gone are the conditioners designed for the hair of African American women. Farewell to the gloves that translate sign language into spoken word to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing. If none of these groups were considered, the most important need-specific creations wouldn’t exist.

Next time you notice vegetable soup on the menu, ask what kind of broth it contains. It may seem silly if you’ve never had to ask the question before, but asking these questions generates the notion that something needs to change.

It may not be the most pressing issue in the world, but for the famished vegan or vegetarian who hasn’t eaten all day, it feels like it.

To fellow vegans- we’re almost there.

To those who want to help the cause- thank you.

And to all of the restaurants in question- I challenge you to care.