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Some of my best friends are omnivores, and I’m cool with that. But I’m not, and neither are a lot of my friends. So it makes me happy when I see meaty places like Jay’s Cheesesteak (which has two locations, Mission and Divis Corridor) considering the leap from veggie (“could it be…seitan?” I ask, totally reminding everyone that I am old enough to remember a funny Dana Carvey) to vegan. It’s nice to be able to go places with my meat-craving friends and have an alternative to a big pile of sides.

It’s kind of* like when the vampires went public on True Blood — some places were faster than others to start carrying synthetic blood. But, like fictional bar owner Sam Merlotte noted, these places are businesses, and once they know there’s a demand they’ll start carrying alternatives to the traditional fare. But what’s the best way to communicate that demand?

VeganasarusLaura Hooper Beck, who today encourages folks to call Jay’s to push them to add a vegan cheese option to their menu, says “I was at Mission Burger today getting the vegan burger, and the dudes from Pal’s Takeaway were there. We got to talking and they were like, ‘Vegans want a sandwich? Okay, we’ll make one!’ They just said they hadn’t received that many requests, so I think it pays to be vocal.”

But how does one do that without falling into the (sometimes frustratingly accurate) stereotype of the strident vegan activist? Because it’s hard to get people to do what you want if you’re busy pissing them off or trying to make them feel guilty.

Beck suggests “just stopping by and asking nicely. In person is better than calling, but a polite call” can work too. She also recommends that one “bring in your favorite vegan cheese and give them some and ask them to try it.” (Beck recommends Daiya) She cautions “It’s key to be, like,”Hey what’s up! Love this place! Want to eat here more often! Think you might want to have some/more vegan options in the future? If you need any help figuring out vegan cheeses (or whatever), I’d totally bring you samples!”

“That’s how it worked with Ike at Ike’s Place. He is so awesome and has a million vegan customers because he totally caters to us and makes us feel welcome and it’s win win.”

Photo: Vegan chef doug

*I get how drinking blood is a vampire imperative and being vegan is not a human imperative. That’s why I said “kind of.”

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • RestaurantZoom

    Being vocal is about the very best way to let restaurateurs know that there is a market and need for something that they made not currently have. Of course, bringing them a piece of something vegan may be even more helpful. After all, restaurateurs want your business and most will bend over backwords to make you happy.