I actually walked in to IHOP this morning with my feathers up and a small container of Tofutti Cream Cheese hidden in my purse. I
was prepared to settle for white toast considering the sickeningly decadent menu that IHOP is famous for.
Credit has to be given immediately to our server: I ordered decaf coffee and then asked if they offered non-dairy creamer. She pointed out that all the creamer on the table was non-dairy but actually said, "you should still read the label, though, because I don't think it's 100% dairy free." I nearly fainted! Can I tell you how many Baristos/as at Starbucks actually tsk when I ask for soy? 10 points to our server right off the bat! Sure enough, the creamer offered was Coffeemate, not 100% dairy free (there is sodium caseinate in it) but in my Vegan World, I will use it when there is no Silk Creamer available.
Between the pancakes, french toast, waffles, crepes, hash and egg variations there was absolutely nothing for vegans (lacto/ovo-vegetarians obviously would be free to eat just about anything they wanted) in plain sight on the menu. There was a small fruit cup listed on the last page. For $2.99 I could eat myself silly through grapes & cantelope. I did ask the server if there were any bagels or English muffins available. She said they had English muffins. I ordered one & again, she was right on top of it: "do you want me to tell them not to put any butter on it?" Of course! I could have hugged her - though she didn't look like she would have appreciated it.
Everyone else at the table (3 of my girlfriends) all ordered hash & eggs, pancakes & eggs, stuffed French toast & eggs...then conversation again turned to my eating "habits." One woman was convinced that I have a food allergy & kept telling me I should just take Lactaid before going out to eat. I explained, as politely as I could without showing my exasperation that being Vegan is an Ethical Choice, not a food allergy. Even if Lactaid theoretically worked, believe me, IHOP is not the place I want to test that theory (and that's even if I felt like putting cow secretions or chicken crap in my body).
My muffin & fruit arrived and out came my soy cream cheese. Everyone was totally fascinated by it and of course needed a taste. Someone remarked that it tasted better than fat-free Philly (to which I agreed) and that it was sweeter than "regular" cream cheese. I think it tastes better, but what do I know? I'm an alien from another planet.
I will never again accept an invitation to IHOP for breakfast in the future. I will continue to feel a bit trapped, though, when it comes to not having any options for breakfast. Then again, it's so rare that I go out to breakfast that I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
Somewhere in the comment section, people criticized me for using the Coffeemate despite the fact that it has casein. I can only point out that in 2008, when this entry was written, I was only vegan for less than a year & still a little loosey-goosey with the casein. I no longer eat anything containing any dairy, nor do I eat any processed foods unless there is no other option - and even then, only if I can recognize (and pronounce) all ingredients on the label. I am completely animal product free and on a whole foods diet at this time, 4 years later. It's been an incredible journey, and YES, I do have all the followers and readers of the blog to thank for their encouragement, support and information!