If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in the south, you probably are familiar with Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel specializes in home-style, southern comfort food, and that’s bad news for vegans. A long time ago I dated a girl who worked at Cracker Barrel, and also happened to be a vegan. She assured me that nothing… I repeat, nothing at Cracker Barrel is vegan. Even the green beans aren’t kosher, so to speak. Well, after an extensive look over their menus, it seems not much has changed since then.
Most major restaurant chains these days have an allergen menu that clearly denotes which items contain ingredients people might be allergic to, like milk, eggs, and shellfish. These menus also indirectly denote vegan items by clearly pointing out the foods that have hidden eggs and dairy in them. Cracker Barrel does not have an allergen menu. Instead, they simply state on their menu that if you have a food allergy, you’ve been warned.
The thing about traditional southern cooking that’s a big problem for vegans is that everything is flavored with butter and/or animal fat, usually bacon grease or ham hock. When Cracker Barrel says “we prepare all of our vegetables in the traditional country style,” what they’re really saying is they cook their vegetables in animal fat. So, while it may appear that Cracker Barrel has lots of vegan options, such as pinto beans and a wide array of cooked vegetables, these items are definitely not vegan.
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The only items at Cracker Barrel that are vegan are the sourdough bread and the fresh salads if you tell them to leave off any meat, dairy, and eggs. Everything else is questionable.
If you are a vegan, I do not suggest going to Cracker Barrel. You will have a very hard time. Bear in mind, Cracker Barrel does not guarantee that foods won’t be cross contaminated – in other words, just because you ask for something vegan or vegetarian, that doesn’t mean it won’t be cooked in the same oil or on the same grill as meat. If you do end up at a Cracker Barrel, my advice is to tell the server you are allergic to meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood, and then see what they can do for you.