Visiting our parents has got to be one of the most difficult challenges to date with being vegan. My husband and I both are from the same small Michigan town so when we “go home” its easy to visit our family in one central location. Sometimes it makes things challenging since we have to share our miniscule amount of time among both families but for the most part we do get things taken care of on both sides.
As far as being vegan, we try to treat each side to a nicer restaurant they normally would not dine at on a regular basis. Unfortunately both sides are extreme carnivores and still after two years we are trying to remind them we don’t eat any meat (whatever the color) nor do we eat fish. For carnivores in a small town I assume this could be hard to understand. So as you can tell we generally do pick out restaurants and that cater towards the carnivore side since it’s the majority of restaurants; plus, it pleases the parents.
This last trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan we chose an old favorite called Great Lakes Shipping Company. It’s located near the Broncos at Western Michigan University. An old local favorite for special events, it has been around for a while. Each visit, it’s like walking back in time since nothing has changed for the 15 years we have been going there. For older generations (which is the target market), this untouched atmosphere is what is preferred, change can overwhelm people at times.
Upon arrival we ordered our pricey South Australian plonk and browsed the untouched menu. It is nice to know everything on the menu. Unfortunately now as vegans we know the entire American inspired “Italian” food is no where near being vegetarian or vegan. There are no options listed on the menu but as we found out the chef can make something to your dietary needs upon request. Gluten-free options may be hard to come by though, seeing the entire menu doesn’t accommodate, so most likely the kitchen is not stocked for it. A call ahead may necessary to assure something is available upon your arrival. We find that if we call a day ahead, the kitchen will usually have something available.
For vegans my husband wanted pasta so he chose a vegetable pasta dish and took off the meat, cheese and cream sauce. We mentioned we were vegan and the waiter mentioned a member of the wait staff was also vegan so he could assure our entrees were vegan approved. He ended up with a plate of pasta and veggies and a liquid wine “reduction” sauce over the top. Granted the wine reduction sauce appeared to be just wine poured over the pasta but it was incredibly considerate for the chef to accommodate to our needs. For me I chose the salad bar which contained a normal assortment of mixed greens (with bibb lettuce), carrots, onions, garbanzo beans, and so on. On top I delighted in a light pouring of St. Julian wine vinaigrette for a local producer in Michigan. The salad cost $9.00 and the pasta dish was $15.00 plus the additional sales tax and tip. It was a little pricey for just vegetables but at least the in-laws were happy with the celebration dinner from their son.
We had a delightful time chatting and enjoying our veganized menu options. The staff was more helpful and did not mind changing the menu slightly to accommodate to our dietary needs. Prices are a bit higher than we would have preferred to pay however they did accommodate so it was worth it once a year. If you are seeking a restaurant in the area, Great Lakes Shipping Company is available to vegans but then again there are other choices too.