To Pret or not to Pret
I have ummed and arred about writing this post a fair bit! However, I think it's better that you're aware and empowered, rather than, unaware and disappointed as a result.
Pret A Manger have vegan options
When I first found out that Pret have a range of vegan options I was so chuffed! This meant that if I was out and about and got peckish, I'd be able to grab something easily because there's a Pret on many high streets.
They have a couple of sandwiches, wraps, salads and hot food options too.
Confusion about labelling on the shelves
I was out and fancied a sandwich, so I had a look in Pret and was happy to see that they hadn't run out of vegan options. They make it easy for us to glance over the listed ingredients on the label and decide what to pick.
This time, the ingredients sounded delicious and they all seemed to be vegan, but it was marked as vegetarian, rather than, vegan. "There must be something else in it, which isn't stated on this quick glance list", I thought to myself. But then I decided that it was worth clarifying, so I approached someone who looked a little less busy and got a surprising response. She was confused! She said she knows they're vegan because they make them in store, so she doesn't understand why the label doesn't reflect that.
I thought little of it, trusted that she'd feed it back, bought it, enjoyed it, saw it as a one-off and continued with my day.
Is the allergen information in the folder accurate?
More recently, I popped into a Pret for a hot drink and realised that they had some new syrups for a limited period of time. I didn't want to assume that they didn't contain something non-vegan e.g. honey, so I asked someone which ones I could have. She got 1 folder out and was shocked to see that none of the syrups were vegan. Her manager said she should check the other folder, but the information in both folders said I couldn't have any syrups and a lot of teas too!
I was gutted because I thought I'd been having coffees with non vegan syrups all this time. I couldn't believe that the teas were unsuitable too! So I tweeted and slowly but surely, it came to light that the information assumes that these syrups will be added to dairy milk and are therefore listed as not suitable for vegans.
Pret were apologetic and understood that the allergen info needs to be about the item in its own right, as opposed to, what it would become, when mixed with something else.
"Phew" I thought to myself. A lesson learned for all concerned, but all is well!
Have you got the most current 'what I can eat' guide?
I was out with a friend and I was famished. Ironically I missed breakfast to meet him on time and then he was stuck in traffic so he was late and suddenly, it was past 1 p.m.!
I spotted a Pret and was relieved. We went in, only to find that they had a few cold vegan options but nothing hot and I wanted to be warmed up. So I asked the manager who happened to be dealing with another customer and he said that I could eat one of the curries that was on the shelf. I mentioned that I'd read the ingredients and thought it looked vegan but the label on the shelf says it's vegetarian. He said he didn't understand why and would check. He looked in a folder and showed me that it was suitable. He saw a big smile appear on my face!
After I got home, I tweeted to ask if it was normal for the label on the shelf to be different to the information in the folder and was devastated by their reply! This curry used to be vegan but isn't any more, because it contains honey!
After a few emails and one phone call, I was told that the manager hadn't downloaded and printed the most up to date guide, which is why he said it was vegan, even though the label didn't!
Umming and ahing about how I feel about Pret A Manger
I understand that everybody, including businesses, make mistakes.
I get that staff may be inundated with information which they need to read, download, print and display; and with the best will in the world, maybe Pret don't make it easy for them to stay adrift amongst all the updates.
I like that Pret are continuously looking at what is bought and what isn't, so that they can improve what they sell.
I appreciate that Pret want to offer variety and they can only do that by introducing new products or amending existing ones.
I like that they told me they want to know if customers find a shortage of options after 2p.m. for example, because they'll change how much they make, to ensure we are catered for throughout the day.
I also like that Pret don't throw away the food that isn't sold, but that it's donated instead.
So many positives!
Will one fear (below) override them all?
I keep umming and ahing about whether I trust their labelling.
What would you do and why?
"If the entire world decided to become vegan tomorrow, a whole host of the world's problems would disappear overnight. Climate change would decrease by 25 percent, deforestation would cease, rainforests would be preserved, our water- and air-quality would increase, life-expectancy rates would increase, and our rates of cancer would plummet, so certainly, with that one action of becoming vegan you are quite effectively making the world a better place."