7

votes

Ever ask a restaurant to not use vegetable oil?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 13, 2012 at 6:10 AM

I travel A LOT for work, so I have to eat out like 10 times a week.

I'm used to asking servers to substitute out the potatoes, leave the sauce on the side, hold the bread, or even "I don't eat gluten or any grains whatsoever".

However, I know I am getting way more vegetable oil in my system. I usually have a jar of coconut oil with me when I'm on the road (I eat a couple of spoonfuls most days), and I've often been tempted to hand the server my jar and ask them to cook my eggs/meat/vegetables in my coconut oil. But I always envision getting the weirdest looks - I'm not even sure if it's reasonable to ask a place to use an ingredient that I brought from home.

Anyone ever ask something similar to this? Any creative ways you've minimized the crappy oil they use in most restaurants? Any weird looks?

Thanks!

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on April 13, 2012
at 03:45 PM

Oh, and I tip a little extra for the consideration!

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on April 13, 2012
at 03:38 PM

I do cook for myself on the road when I can. It is just not realistic that I can stay in a Residence Inn every night with my travel schedule. I've had better luck lately just finding places that will happily cook in real butter for me.

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on February 15, 2012
at 07:19 AM

Yeah, and I already do pay more than I used to eating out before going paleo.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:46 PM

If you ask nicely with a big smile - you tend to get what you want.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:45 PM

Don't dis' the tats!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:44 PM

Also, beware of the "olive oil blend" which is mostly canola.

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on February 14, 2012
at 01:04 AM

That would be my worry too Lee!

535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

(720)

on February 13, 2012
at 09:57 PM

Most middle class indianss I met on my travels seemed to think ghee raised cholesterol too much. The poorer typical Indian just thought soybean oil tastes good with food and is cheap. Ghee is often used to get a specific flavour in a dish at restaurants and they definetly won't use it on the whole menu.

F83abbabaa67add0a1c8dbc83b55b107

(148)

on February 13, 2012
at 07:36 PM

You can get hotel rooms with fridges and should be able to pack a lot of the food you need. When I travel I never eat something that I don't cook, mostly just because I get sick when I eat out. I have to agree with Matt, it is not reasonable to ask places to cook differently for one person. If you don't want to eat what they have to offer then find another option. I have made full meals in the place where hotels set up the free breakfast.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 13, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Seriously, if he's really concerned with what he's eating he won't be eating out. There are other options, which was my point.

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on February 13, 2012
at 05:39 PM

Yeah, I completely avoid chain restaurants for that reason!

E242ecf1fecbac866894059f5304b4c6

(318)

on February 13, 2012
at 05:35 PM

people only want to talk about themselves...what fun is reading the question properly?

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on February 13, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Did you read his question? He has to eat out 10 meals a week. That's significant. I don't think he's really looking for an excuse to be a douchebag. I think his question is valid.

A4587cfef29863db612c43f89c202cc1

(2053)

on February 13, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Would you be willing to pay more for a meal that met your requirements?

8fac289e672e135ed3709084285e40c4

(0)

on February 13, 2012
at 03:15 PM

I've stopped in to a indian grocery store looking for ghee. They only had the fake veggie oil kind. I asked the guy, and he told me real ghee is too expensive and nobodys buys it anymore. Maybe I have to try a nicer part of town.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 13, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Farmed salmon really grosses me out. That's one thing I'll always ask about on a menu.

E3267155f6962f293583fc6a0b98793e

(1085)

on February 13, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I asked a mom & pop restaurant in the small town that I work in if they could just fry my eggs in the bacon grease and they said "no, they bacon grease runs off the griddle into the trash". And I asked for real butter at a restaurant once when they brought out their soybean oil spread I was highly dissapointed. Most of these people don't even know what real butter is anymore!

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on February 13, 2012
at 07:08 AM

Yeah I kinda figured that'd be the case. Too bad I can't count on them having their own coconut oil in the back!

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14 Answers

best answer

5
A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

on February 13, 2012
at 08:14 AM

I share your anguish. I used to ask to cook my food in butter, most places happily agreed - until, I found to my horror, that a lot of places nowadays DO NOT use real butter. They use some butter lookalike made from hydrogenated soybean oil.

BTW soybean oil is the de-facto cooking medium in most restaurants in America today.

So, like, others in this thread, I generally eat a biggish breakfast of boiled eggs, veggies and some half way decent meat. That keeps me full till dinner, for which I try and find a decent place or innovate at a chipotle like grill.

Canned Salmon, Sardines, Mackarel, homemade Almond flour "bread", and good green tea which I sometimes carry with me, work quite well for short trips.

Regarding carrying your own coconut oil - I have never done anything like that - But in small Mom and Pop type eating places, I have seen plenty of weird requests being entertained. I dont see any reason they wont do this for you. However, I am not sure how they will react at a chain restaurant.

E3267155f6962f293583fc6a0b98793e

(1085)

on February 13, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I asked a mom & pop restaurant in the small town that I work in if they could just fry my eggs in the bacon grease and they said "no, they bacon grease runs off the griddle into the trash". And I asked for real butter at a restaurant once when they brought out their soybean oil spread I was highly dissapointed. Most of these people don't even know what real butter is anymore!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:44 PM

Also, beware of the "olive oil blend" which is mostly canola.

best answer

4
03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

on February 13, 2012
at 09:53 PM

Yes, I've started to ask for this more, but it depends on the situation. I've never had much luck and pretty much stopped trying in the rare cases I'm at a chain/fast food restaurant.

Two settings tend to work well: old school/mom and pop/hole in the wall type places (especially the breakfast/diner type), and hippie/locavore/organic type places. My track record is probably 75% success in these settings.

If the waitress calls you "hon" or they list the places the food comes from on their menu, you're set ;)

My approach: I ask what X is cooked in. Usually the waiter doesn't know and says he'll check. I go ahead and mention anyway that I'd prefer it to be cooked in X (usually butter or coconut oil) rather than a vegetable oil, if that's what they use. So the waiter now already knows a) my desired fats, and b) what I'm trying to avoid. The waiter will then come back and usually say "it's cooked in X but we can use butter instead" or "it's cooked in X but the chef says we can do Y or Z" and sometimes Y or Z are other better alternatives at least.

I keep it low key and try not to have to send anyone back to the kitchen multiple times to ask about things. And I tip well and am very polite :)

It's not a dealbreaker for me so I don't go the allergy/sensitivity route. I just don't go back if they can't meet my needs.

I was pleasantly surprised at a brunch place yesterday (of the trendy locavore variety) that already cooked everything in butter! These places do tend to be a bit pricier but are easy to find on yelp.

6
F83abbabaa67add0a1c8dbc83b55b107

on February 13, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Being picky at ANY restaurant leaves you open to the tatted up guy at the grill getting offended and mistreating your meat.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:45 PM

Don't dis' the tats!

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on February 14, 2012
at 01:04 AM

That would be my worry too Lee!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 14, 2012
at 04:46 PM

If you ask nicely with a big smile - you tend to get what you want.

6
F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

on February 13, 2012
at 06:41 AM

you really can't expect them to use an ingredient you brought from home. They have the health department to contend with, and the health department does NOT like them using food that they can't guarantee the safety of. Letting folks use their own gluten-free soy sauce seems to be the limit of most places.

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on February 13, 2012
at 07:08 AM

Yeah I kinda figured that'd be the case. Too bad I can't count on them having their own coconut oil in the back!

3
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 13, 2012
at 04:22 PM

It is not necessarily true that asking restaurant personnel to make detailed changes in a meal means that you'll get lousy service, as a couple people have said -- however, getting it done and getting it done well requires careful planning and the willingness to spend more for your meal and eat in non-chain restaurants (mostly because the chains rarely have any alternatives to their mass-purchased food supplies).

We are -very- -very- picky, but we present it in such a way that it's very polite. We try to eat "off rush", to make sure that we're not trying to make changes in such a way that it will put the chef "in the weeds", and we try to offer options that are available, rather than "bring your own"... for example, we ask that they use real butter to cook in, or lard/tallow. As much as it breaks my heart, we ALSO never order 'tasting menus" or other specialty signature dishes or foods if we know that we are not going to be able to eat them if they are made to the chef's preferences -- those kinds of special dishes are often signature dishes, and it's my opinion that it's rude to ask for those to be modified.

We typically ask, BEFORE we are seated, whether the restaurant has the ability to prepare using real butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, and has real heavy cream available for the table. If not, we leave and go elsewhere. This saves us getting to the table and seeing that there is NOTHING we can eat. If possible, we review the menu online before we even go, during the point at which we're choosing restaurants.

If we're going out for a business meal, we try to have restaurants to recommend to the group that allow for our dietary needs to be met...but if we HAVE to go someplace where the food isn't going to meet standards, we typically order something simple -- a soup, salad with simple protein, poached eggs, etc., rather than drag the whole table into our dietary drama. chuckles

3
D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 13, 2012
at 02:46 PM

I HAVE done it, once before - in Sri Lanka.. My hotel was frying some seafood - and I asked what oil they were using - "coconut oil" I was told. So far so good, but I had to keep checking, as they switched to "vegetable" oil on another occasion, then switched back to coconut upon my insistence.

This is indeed a hot topic, and leads me to avoid fried foods altogether. Many Italian restaurants use butter or olive oil for cooking. Depressingly, Indian restaurants often use vegetable oil rather than ghee to save costs.

535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

(720)

on February 13, 2012
at 09:57 PM

Most middle class indianss I met on my travels seemed to think ghee raised cholesterol too much. The poorer typical Indian just thought soybean oil tastes good with food and is cheap. Ghee is often used to get a specific flavour in a dish at restaurants and they definetly won't use it on the whole menu.

8fac289e672e135ed3709084285e40c4

(0)

on February 13, 2012
at 03:15 PM

I've stopped in to a indian grocery store looking for ghee. They only had the fake veggie oil kind. I asked the guy, and he told me real ghee is too expensive and nobodys buys it anymore. Maybe I have to try a nicer part of town.

3
4ec0fe4b4aab327f7efa2dfb06b032ff

(5145)

on February 13, 2012
at 12:42 PM

If you're talking about chain restaurants, keep in mind that there's not as much cooking going on in the kitchen as you'd expect. They mostly just heat up prepackaged foods, so they have little control over what actually goes into it.

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on February 13, 2012
at 05:39 PM

Yeah, I completely avoid chain restaurants for that reason!

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 13, 2012
at 12:19 PM

Nope. If I want food cooked with the ingredients I want, I will cook it. IF I'm going to eat out, I'm going to adapt it to work as best I can. The dose makes the poison and a single meal with X, Y, or Z is going to have negligible health consequences.

My dietary whims are not excuse to be a douchebag.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on February 13, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Did you read his question? He has to eat out 10 meals a week. That's significant. I don't think he's really looking for an excuse to be a douchebag. I think his question is valid.

E242ecf1fecbac866894059f5304b4c6

(318)

on February 13, 2012
at 05:35 PM

people only want to talk about themselves...what fun is reading the question properly?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 13, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Seriously, if he's really concerned with what he's eating he won't be eating out. There are other options, which was my point.

F83abbabaa67add0a1c8dbc83b55b107

(148)

on February 13, 2012
at 07:36 PM

You can get hotel rooms with fridges and should be able to pack a lot of the food you need. When I travel I never eat something that I don't cook, mostly just because I get sick when I eat out. I have to agree with Matt, it is not reasonable to ask places to cook differently for one person. If you don't want to eat what they have to offer then find another option. I have made full meals in the place where hotels set up the free breakfast.

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on April 13, 2012
at 03:38 PM

I do cook for myself on the road when I can. It is just not realistic that I can stay in a Residence Inn every night with my travel schedule. I've had better luck lately just finding places that will happily cook in real butter for me.

2
535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

on February 13, 2012
at 11:01 AM

When I travelled through India for 4 months, all the time. Soybean oil is rampant in India and indian food can be quite fatty- I would make my order and politely hand them the bottle of coconut oil and ask them to use it as soybean oil 'hurts my stomach'. However sometimes it just wasn't appropriate when a food dig was really busy. Similarly in the West I think you could only pull it off in really relaxed/non busy restaurants where they won't stress out over doing something different for you.

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 13, 2012
at 06:12 AM

I ask them to cook in real butter. I also order hard boiled eggs when I can or eat foods that are raw such as salads and sushi. I try and avoid vegetables at restaurants unless the menu says steamed. I will often go to a consumer co-op grocery store and snag some items that might be better than at a restaurant. There are cans of Tuna with pull lids and no liquids added that I will sometimes eat.

1
Medium avatar

on February 13, 2012
at 06:10 PM

If I were a restaurant owner, I would politely decline your offer of coconut oil, along with your request for a custom-cooked meal. "Home cooked" is a metaphor when a restaurant is involved.

1
Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on February 13, 2012
at 10:25 AM

I do it every time I go out. I find it rather embarrassing, although less so if its a fairly nice place, but it does actually make a difference the next day so I do it regardless! Most places are nice about it, and they should have some cheap olive oil on hand if nothing else- just say, if there's any oil on it, to replace it with olive oil.

And grilled things typically are easy. I always feel compelled to tip well, however, following my litany of modifications (I'm intolerant to dairy).

1
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 13, 2012
at 07:21 AM

I think it's a lot to expect. What I usually do is choose a lean meat or chicken breast with avocado (either in my salad or on the side), or salmon as a main dish (often farmed but still halfway decent). And most restaurants usually have olive oil. Frankly, if I traveled a lot, I'd carry a suitcase full of canned sardines or kippers and bags of those yummy big coconut flakes. And just try to minimize my intake of crap fats in restaurants.

5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 13, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Farmed salmon really grosses me out. That's one thing I'll always ask about on a menu.

0
90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on April 13, 2012
at 03:44 PM

Thanks for the advice folks. This week I've finally started to ask restaurants to cook in real butter for me. I tell them that I'm "sensitive" to vegetable oil (whatever that means). So far I've asked 3 times, only one weird look, but all three times it has been no problem whatsoever. I make sure to ask really nicely, of course. These were all diner-style restaurants, by the way - steak and eggs!

90f66d30d977b07694403b469b3f85c5

on April 13, 2012
at 03:45 PM

Oh, and I tip a little extra for the consideration!

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