If you’ve been vegan for more than a couple decades as I have then perhaps Souplantation (or Sweet Tomatoes for those in Florida) has always been there: the restaurant that colleagues would offer to treat you to lunch at because they knew you could choose your own plant based foods and use vinegar and oil for dressing (back when they didn’t label any dressings vegan.) Fortunately, since then they have improved by adding a vegan dressing (“Housemade French”), vegan soups, and salads. But there is still room for improvement, especially in the dessert department.
I first vegan-towned Souplantation (with gift certificates I won on the radio) on April 6, 2012. I checked ahead of time their online menu, which purported to have a vegan deli salad, Three Bean salad, and a vegan House-Made Soup, Indian Lentil, but the signs in the restaurant said “vegetarian,” not “vegan.” That was confusing, considering that not all the signs saying “vegetarian” represented animal product free dishes.
But since vegan-towning Souplantation again in 2016 and 2017, I find it has since improved. When you first walk in keep your eyes peeled for the sign with a “Dietary Preference Guide” (under the much more prominent “FOOD ALLEGY?” message.) In my opinion, “VG” for “vegetarian” and “VE” for “vegan” is confusing. Might as well just make everything vegan and spell out the word “vegan” (which they do for some soups and salads.)
Sometimes their labeling is just bad. Sometimes the sign is behind the wrong item or just plain missing in action. Sometimes you can’t get clarification from an employee even if you wave your arms in the air saying “hello! hello!” because the workers are hustling so hard to replenish the food bins. One time I had to backtrack and start over in the alternate line just to find the sign for the dressing.
If you know any good vegan dessert companies you must insist that they negotiate a contract with Souplantation (So Delicious® Dairy Free is a good one that gave out freebie coupons to those who answered their short survey in a timely fashion awhile back.) They are in desperate need of a vegan dessert! So far they have crumbled Oreos and sprinkles. They don’t even label their cones (are the cones vegan or what?) Well, they need major improvement in this department.
Souplantation owner, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., purportedly sold its assets to a New York private investment firm earlier this year, pursuant to a bankruptcy restructuring plan and thus intended to “‘refresh'” its “‘brands’,” according to Garden Fresh CEO John Morberg (Lori Weisberg, Souplantation Restaurants are Sold, The San Diego Union Tribune (Jan. 11, 2017).) If that’s the case, I expect to see vegan desserts soon. I recently received a menu for Fresh Brothers (Pizza · Salad · Wings) and their desserts are vegan! See, so there’s no excuse for a restaurant’s desserts to not be vegan.
Souplatation is slowly improving. The last time I visited they actually had Smart Balance vegan margarine to go with the potatoes.
One of my Souplantation prizes from last year was part of a prize pack to promote a charity event called The 100 Wave Challenge. It also included Rubio’s certificates*, Zico coconut water beverages, and Dr. Bronner’s 18-in 1 Hemp Tea Tree Pure-Castile Soap in a Sycuan drawstring bag. Cool prize pack!
The Souplantation web page doesn’t say if you get any freebies for joining Club Veg. But it does say, “Save money, save trees.”
*Since I reviewed Rubio’s they altered their menu a little bit. The “Grilled Veggie Burrito” I referred to, which was under the “Veggies and More” category, is now under “Burritos” and goes by “Burrito Especial Veggie.” I always say “no cheese” and “no chipotle white sauce.”