One of the challenges that I have experienced in the vegan lifestyle is dining out at non-vegan restaurants. My husband has been so completely understanding and generous and has been willing to try out vegan restaurants with me, but sometimes he just wants to get a burger without it being a black bean patty. Furthermore, since we aren’t always in a familiar area when we want to get a meal, I think it helps to know what vegan options are available at a variety of chain restaurants.
I checked Red Robin’s website and was happy to see that they will substitute a vegan Boca Burger patty in any of their burgers, but I was concerned about the contents of the buns. I am always hesitant to rely on the server’s knowledge of animal products used in menu items, so instead, I emailed Red Robin’s customer service department. There have been cases where my inquiries have been ignored – *cough* The Stand *cough* – but, Red Robin not only responded quickly, but also very thoroughly. The content of our emails is below.
What it boils down to is that the ciabatta buns and corn jalapeno buns are not vegan, but everything else is! On a gross note, the ciabatta and corn jalapeno buns have l-cysteine in them, which is “derived from poultry feathers.” Eric and I were both baffled as to why anyone would think that was necessary in a bun, but I’m sure it boils down to cheap ingredients. It’s remarkable finding out what nasty and confusing ingredients are in your food when you never thought to ask before.
Last week we went to Red Robin and I ordered a vegan Boca patty on their whole grain bun with spicy ketchup. The waitress was very accommodating with my substitutions, but the patty was a bit overcooked. It was kind of hard, actually. I jokingly told Eric that I could over-microwave a Boca Burger at home. However, I applaud Red Robin’s efforts to provide choices for everyone. It is nice to have an option for going out with friends and family at a place where we can all order without having to compromise.
MY EMAIL INQUIRY
“As a recent vegan and a Red Robin lover, I am very pleased to see that you offer the vegan Boca burger and the hummus plate. I was just hoping you could tell me if the Whole Wheat bun that the burger comes on is vegan. Thank you so much. I will be sure to publish your answer on my vegan blog.”
CUSTOMER SERVICE RESPONSE
“Thank you for contacting Red Robin. I am glad to hear you have enjoyed the vegan Boca patty. As for the Hummus, I wanted to point out that the grilled zucchini spears are not vegan. They are basted with a garlic-parmesan spread which contains dairy. When ordering that item, please request that ingredient to be left off if you want the appetizer to be vegan.
I am including the ingredients of the buns used on Red Robin menu items. The source of the mono- and diglycerides and sodium stearoyl-2 lactylate of our breads/buns is vegetable. However, the l-cysteine in the Corn Jalapeno bun and Ciabatta bun are derived from poultry feathers.
The ingredients are:
Yellow seeded bun
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, contains less than two percent of each of the following: sesame seeds, yeast, salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, calcium propionate (a preservative), yellow corn flour, spices (tumeric and paprika oleoresins), natural flavor, dough conditioners may contain one or more of the following: mono-diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, ascorbic acid, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, azodicarbonamide.
Enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, contains 2% or less of each of the following: salt, calcium, sulfate, yellow corn flour, corn syrup, calcium stearoyl-2 lactylate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, colored with extracts of annatto and turmeric, calcium peroxide, calcium propionate (to preserve freshness). Topped with onions and poppy seeds.
Bleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folate), water, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, wheat gluten, salt, soybean oil, dough improver (wheat flour, calcium stearoyl lactylate, salt, calcium sulfate, datem, soy oil. Contains 2% or less of: potassium iodate, ascorbic acid, enzyme, l-cysteine, azodicarbomamide), calcium propionate (to retard spoilage), wheat flour, and enzymes.
Whole grain bun
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid), water, whole wheat flour (cracked wheat, whole wheat flour, and crushed wheat), high fructose corn syrup, wheat gluten, contains less than two percent of each of the following: soybean oil, yeast, salt. Calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, calcium propionate (a preservative), caramel color, dough conditioners may contain one or more of the following: monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, ascorbic acid, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, azodicarbonamide.
Corn jalapeno bun
Bleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folate), water, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, wheat gluten, bleached enriched flour, dough improver (wheat flour, calcium stearoyl lactylate, salt, calcium sulfate, datem, soy oil, contains 2% or less of: potassium iodate, ascorbic acid, enzyme, l-cysteine, azodicarbomamide), calcium propionate (to retard spoilage).
Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, barley, malt, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: salt, yeast, dough conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monoglycerides, Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Peroxide), Corn Flour, Calcium Propionate, Potassium Sorbate (preservatives), Yeast Nutrients (Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Soy Flour, Turmeric, Paprika, Natural and Artificial Flavors.
Red Robin offers a number of delicious salad options that do not include, or can be modified, to be free of animal derived ingredients. Since we can customize any menu item to meet our Guests’ tastes and dietary needs, our Team Members are happy to prepare your meal at your request.
I hope this information is helpful.
Thanks for choosing Red Robin!
Sr. Quality Assurance Manager
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers”
Wow, thanks for posting this! My mom is vegetarian and enjoys going to Red Robin.
I’m glad that it was helpful!
Thank you for posting this info! This is very important to get out there. We try hard to winnow out the vegan from the non-vegan in restaurant land, but it’s not so simple. Most people assume that all bread is vegan. There are so many additives, and animal-derived products are now much cheaper than many natural plant-based products. We must remember, for most restaurants, the bottom line is profit margin at the end of the day. Buyer beware. Blessings.–Melanie
Hi Nikki! I’m so glad to e-meet another SoCal vegan!! I’ve bee vegan for a year, but I’m still learning. I always seem to be discovering something new (like that the local Chinese restaurant I go to uses chicken broth for their vegetarian items – I should have asked!). What a great post you’ve wrote about Red Robin. It’s nice to hear that they were so responsive to you. Your blog is awesome! Thanks for following – I look forward to getting to know you better. Celeste:)
Thank you! It’s still tough remembering to check on certain things, especially at ethic food restaurants because there’s a lot of ingredients I wouldn’t even know to ask about! My sisters and I ordered Thai food on Monday and I had to be reminded to ask for my spicy cashew nuts and tofu without fish sauce.
I love coming across fellow vegan bloggers in my area because I am always looking for new restaurants to check out. I look forward to more of your posts!
I look forward to more of your posts too!!!
Reblogged this on Marbles: Misplaced and commented:
We were given some gift certificates to Red Robin and are planning to go there tonight for dinner. So, naturally, I had to check out their ingredients. I found from the following blog post that some of their buns contain l-cysteine, but it is sourced from poultry! YAY! Red Robin, here we come!
You may want to watch out while ordering fries anywhere as I came across that they might fry some of the meat stuff in the same oil so though they are made out of potatoes, the oil in which they fry in is not. I vaguely remember I read that on Chillies vegetarian menu. They explicitly say not to order any fried items if we are vegetarians or vegans. Check it out please.