Food with Integrity (or not)?
We all like to stay up to date with the latest trends, fads, diets and celebrity endorsed products that don’t actually work, but when it comes to integrity, people often have a hard time sticking with it.
In the article Eschewing a Vegan Lifestyle at Home, but Still Embracing It at Work by Jennifer Medina, Terces and Matthew Engelhart, owners of a well-known Los Angeles vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude, faced scrutiny from customers when they made a personal lifestyle change. After the owners claimed they would raise and slaughter their own cows for meat, their integrity was questioned and the image of their restaurant took a huge hit. With this comes many questions, is it that big of a deal? Should the public care so much? Should they have a say in the lifestyle choices they make? All of these questions lead back to the owners morals and values.
We may not think about morals or values when we walk into a restaurant, but we can sure tell when they are not in alignment. We want the atmosphere, language, images, staff, service and menu items to be consistent with the restaurants morals, values and overall mission. You would be very confused if you walked into a restaurant with an Italian theme and found out that they only served Mexican food. Therefore, you want the management team of a restaurant to live by the morals and values they try to portray in the establishment. Although their personal lives may not be any of our business, there choices do play a role in our perception of that dining establishment.
When the Engleharts interviewed with The Hollywood Reporter, they were shocked that their personal eating habits had such an impact of the perception and behavior of their customers.
“It saddens me that the choices we made in the privacy of our home would lead people to feel so betrayed that it’s elevated to threats on our lives,” Mr. Englehart said. “I’m very discouraged.”
However, the Cafe still tries to portray happiness and peacefulness in its atmosphere and decor. The Engleharts have not let this situation change their personal eating habits at home but they do stand by their promise to only serve animal-free products. Will the restaurants and owners’ integrity ever be the same? Only time will tell.