Got Trapped! Vegan Restaurants Struggle With Humane Pest Control

A true vegan does not eat or wear anything from animals or animal products. But how do they feel about the bugs in their kitchens? In this article by Associated Press for Mail Online you can read about the dilemma which a vegan restaurant faced.

Getting rid of spiders and mice in the kitchen poses an ethical question to a vegan. How do you do it in a humane way? That’s just what Melanie Cochran of the Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee was faced with.

Melanie Cochran was adamant about not using traditional pest control services when it first opened. For a few years she was able to keep pests at bay, but when the restaurant developed a problem, she called an exterminator even though she said it went against her vegan principles.

In this April 8, 2016 photo, Melanie Cochran is shown in her vegetarian restaurant, The Wild Cow, in Nashville, Tenn. As more fine dining meat-free restauran...
Melanie Cochran is shown in her vegetarian restaurant, The Wild Cow, in Nashville, Tenn.

Although it’s against Melanie’s vegan principles, she had to call the exterminator to get rid of the growing pest problem in her restaurant:

“We have to focus on the bigger picture. Vegan restaurants need to stay in business as a way to put a dent in the dominance of the factory farm system. We want to show people that it is possible and easy to reduce one’s meat intake, or even eliminate it entirely,” she said.

“We always have to make tough decisions and remind ourselves of our priorities, even when it comes to things like using flea killer on a flea-infested dog. Any vegan who claims to not harm animals in any way is either a liar or in denial.”

In this April 8, 2016 photo, desserts are displayed on a counter at the The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. As more fine dining meat-free ...
Desserts are displayed on a counter at the The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has provided regulations on humane methods for restaurants to solve pest problems. However, some measures seem unrealistic or time-consuming, especially for a busy establishment. PETA acknowledges that occasionally more aggressive ways are imperative if the circumstances are dire:

“It all depends on the situation, the time of year and what’s happening outside. But for the most part natural deterrents rarely work if you have a serious problem,” said chef Rich Landau of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia.

In this April 8, 2016 photo, Andrew Locke, center, and Matthew McCord, right, prepare orders at The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. As mor...
Andrew Locke, center, and Matthew McCord, right, prepare orders at The Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. As more fine dining meat-free restaurants are cropping up, their animal activist owners are struggling with humane ways to kill unwanted pests while also remaining true to their values. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Paul Curtis, an entomologist, once paid a visit to a restaurant in Florida that is seemingly following everything on the list for a pest-free kitchen.  Yet from time to time, it would still get infested with hundreds of roaches. After deliberately documenting the times of the day and year when the infestation came, Curtis found his answer:

“When there was a lot of rain and the sewer system got full it would push roaches up … into the facility. So it wasn’t a failure on anybody’s part,” said Curtis.

In a similar occurence, health officers threatened a restaurant in Arkansas with closure ’cause of fly infestation that was ultimately traced to deliveries coming from a fruit and vegetable supplier:

“That kind of investigation is probably the most overlooked and beneficial element of a considerate pest management program,” Curtis said.

Founder of a California-based vegan cheese line, Miyoko Schinner concurs that pest control, from time to time, fall into a grey area:

“What we call pests might very well be very close to creatures you would otherwise try to rescue as a vegan, for example, rats that have undergone various procedures in labs. But put that very same rat in a restaurant kitchen, and he becomes a pest,” said Schinner, a West Martin-based farm animal rescuer.

If your business is in the country, “you can release the creature in a field or forest,”she said. “But if the business is in an urban setting, your solution simply becomes someone else’s problem, and they may or may not be as compassionate.”

Read More: Trapped! Vegan restaurants struggle with humane pest control

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