Veggie Grill can listen, but apparently they can’t speak

21 Mar

Hey, where'd the "mindful living" menus go?

Hey, where’d the “mindful living” menus go?

It’s been ten days now since my post asking,”Is Veggie Grill’s gardein organic, like Veggie Grill claims it is, or is it not?” and a lot has happened so I figured I’d update you.

The main thing that happened is that immediately after I published my post, Veggie Grill finally removed the claim on its website that “All of our veggie proteins and tempeh are organic and non-GMO.” And this past weekend, more than six weeks after I first brought the matter to Veggie Grill’s attention, all stores were told to pull all copies of the menu containing that claim, according to a manager I spoke to at one of their locations.

And yet despite these actions, there hasn’t been a single word from Veggie Grill about any of this. Given that they deleted the language from their website that I challenged, and ordered their store managers to remove all those menus, obviously they realized I was right. These actions seem to be a pretty clear admission that they had misled thousands of customers about the organic nature of their product.

But did Veggie Grill make any kind of public admission? Did they apologize for challenging me initially on this? More important, did they apologize to their customers about this? No, not a word.

But they weren’t *entirely* without response. They did favorite a mysterious tweet that attacked me. A tweet from @vegan, the same person who owns vegan.com, a person whom I can’t remember ever having a conversation with before, and who doesn’t even follow me on Twitter, and who out of nowhere tweeted one morning:

favorited tweet

And Veggie Grill favorited that tweet, a tweet from someone with 54,000 followers, a tweet that occurred not long after my blog post went up. And not only that, Veggie Grill later retweeted a tweet from, yup, that same person:

2nd tweet

I don’t know what the connection is between @vegan and VeggieGrill, but Veggie Grill sure must have appreciated the support because since then they’ve retweeted a number of random tweets from @vegan to their 74,000 followers, even though I went back months prior to my post and didn’t see a single retweet of @vegan by VeggieGrill. I guess one hand washes the other and all.

And that favorite of the attack on me, and the retweet above, have been the entirety of Veggie Grill’s response. Unbelievable, I know, and it’s both pathetic and shocking at the same time. Up until this, I thought Veggie Grill was a well-run company. I thought they had what it takes to grow the company. I thought the leadership was in place to actually turn this into a vegan giant that could divert people from meaty fast food all across America. But now my confidence in them is shattered.

It turns out that it’s amateur hour over there at Veggie Grill, which makes me sad. Any well-run company would have apologized to their customers, issued some type of statement about the matter, tried to make right with those who were misled, and begun to move on. But not Veggie Grill. Instead they have shown disdain for their customers, which is awful, considering how loyal their customers can be.

So loyal that many have attacked me on various social media platforms, and not just @vegan. The general opinion of the attackers seems to be: This is a vegan company spreading veganism so if the thing they’ve been misleading people about doesn’t pertain to the vegan nature of their products it’s okay. Then there have been some people on the other side who have basically said: If they misled customers about the organic nature of their products, what else might they be misleading people about?

Personally, I trust that they are indeed 100 percent vegan and committed to that. And I should add that I have never questioned their non-GMO claims, nor their claims that their tempeh, which is not from gardein, is organic.

But it’s important to note that Veggie Grill still has not addressed the claim on their regular menu, which is still online and in stores, that “Our specially seasoned and marinated proteins, Chickin’ and Veggie-Steak, are made from organic and non-GMO soybeans, wheat and peas. Produced by GARDEIN™, these hearty proteins are deliciously satisfying, easily digested and packed with nutrients and fiber.” This despite the fact that Veggie Grill’s own list of ingredients for these gardein items on Veggie Grill’s own website shows only the beet root fiber and the evaporated cane juice as being organic. On their own website! And Veggie Grill has been claiming on menus for at least two years that the wheat and soy in their gardein products are organic, even though the ingredients list that’s still up on their website today says otherwise!

Where are the answers from Veggie Grill? Is anyone in charge there? Is this what they think of their customers?

Oh, and I almost forgot that they also unfollowed me on Twitter. That’s the way the adults there decided to deal with this issue: they covered their eyes.

2 Responses to “Veggie Grill can listen, but apparently they can’t speak”

  1. Midge March 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    When the menu issue came up last week, I was quite disappointed because I really couldn’t imagine that Veggie Grill could knowingly put up incorrect info on their menus. I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Since you had mentioned in one of your IG posts that Gardein just received their non-GMO certification, could there have been perhaps a miscommunication between Gardein and Veggie Grill? Could there also have been a misunderstanding of what organic is vs non-GMO? For me personally, I enjoy eating at Veggie Grill, whether their ingredients are non-GMO and/or organic or not, big plus though if they are. But when they promise their ingredients to be as such, they need to deliver on that promise.

    I sent them an email last Sunday thanking them for helping take vegan food to the mainstream, and that I would throw my hands in support of a vegan business that does that. But I asked in my email if they could please shed some light on this issue. I thought that if I sent a nice email, I would get a response. And of course, I haven’t heard back. Earlier this evening though, I discovered through statigr.am that they have unfollowed me on IG sometime in the past 7 days. I’m really not sure anymore, and that was a bit upsetting :(. Coincidence? I think not.

    I must tell you though how much I and a lot of folks in the vegan community appreciate the fact that you are bringing issues like this to the forefront. I don’t know if some of us can do what you do, but you make people listen and take notice. No one else can do it better than you ;). I hope Veggie Grill addresses this issue soon.

    By the way, did you happen to see their two most recent posts on IG? One was posted on “Team Member Thursday” and showcased one of their team member’s fave meal. The other was a repost from a follower who had a picnic with food from Veggie Grill. The post before that was from 3 weeks ago, and it was of their off-menu VG Bacon Cheeseburger. Surely they could have found time to respond to inquiries this past week, wouldn’t you think?

    • insufferablevegan April 11, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

      If they unfollowed you for asking a question, that is downright childish.

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