1. Select an independent* restaurant that is not vegan. Browse the menu and eat there prior to meeting.
2. Speak directly to the owner and/or chef. Ask about vegan options on the menu and/or their interest in doing an event. Ask about the chef’s familiarity/experience with vegan cuisine.
3. Provide information about veganism and be clear about the definition of vegan, but don’t overwhelm. (It doesn’t have to be organic, gluten-free, or local.) Take the AVS Catering Guide as a concise reference to leave with the restaurant. Depending on the chef’s experience and personality, you might also offer a vegan cookbook or magazine.
4. Focus on a great main dish and a terrific dessert to impress patrons. Build from there. Work within their limitations: style, schedule, staff, equipment, and ingredient suppliers.
5. For events: Ask for a small tasting party prior to the event to sample the cuisine, take photos, and provide feedback. Offer to do the event on their “slow” night to increase business. Remember to negotiate a price that is good for both of you and be clear if it includes tax and gratuity. Host organization should add on to the base price to cover publicity.
6. Remember this is their business/livelihood; anything new is risky. Provide new patrons until the vegan cuisine becomes popular with enough regular patrons. The success of your effort will be if it appeals to both vegans and to the general public.
*To get vegan options on the menu in a chain of restaurants, some people do shareholder advocacy for making changes from within. Humane investing is more often about choosing to support vegan restaurants.
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