Some restaurants offer all-you-can-eat buffets consisting of both vegetarian/vegan and non-vegetarian dishes (e.g., many Asian-style restaurants, several US chains, hotel breakfasts). It's unclear to me whether buying access to such a buffet and exclusively taking the vegetarian/vegan options increases demand for animal products regardless. I guess the answer depends on whether restaurants decide on amounts of animal products to cook depending on exactly what was taken by customers vs the pure number of customers buying the buffet.

Does anyone know the specifics of how such restaurants typically operate? How can one tell whether a certain offering is likely acceptable? Is it useful to tell staff in advance that one will only take veg*an food?

3 Answers 3


From a sensible capitalist's viewpoint, it should not drive meat demand up as long as you only eat vegetarian stuff, as you noticed yourself.

Now real life restaurant owners/managers might not be that sensible, but if they stay in business for long, they probably are to a decent degree and should buy comestibles based on how much is eaten and not how many customers they have.

If nothing is prepared specifically for you (and that should generally be the case for large buffet type restaurants), then it does not seem useful to tell the staff in advance; they'll have their method for deciding what to cook when and will probably stick to it regardless. On the other hand if you are in, say, a small hotel and there is a breakfast buffet prepared only for you and few other guests, then it may be useful to tell them so they know they can prepare less meat than they usually would.

Or in general if you are going in with a group which is significant in comparison to the total amount of people eating there and there are over proportionally many veg*ans in that group, then you should warn beforehand because in those cases, animal derived food might otherwise be prepared especially for you.


I think that the most certain way to diminish meat consumption is to inform the restaurant about eating preferences. The larger the group of vegetarians, the greater the effect in diminishing meat consumption.

Vegetarianism by country shows that in most countries, vegetarians are less than 5%. So, assuming no other factors are considered (perfect randomness of people entering a restaurant), they can expect that some 19 out 20 persons are fine with eating meat. I think this is negligible (the overall food waste in US is estimated to a huge amount of about 30-40% of the food supply).

Personally, I have never talked at the hotels/restaurants about food preferences, but I know about some weddings where several persons (about 5-10% of the total participants) clearly stated they do not eat meat (I live in an area where "the best vegetable is pork"). So, the restaurant changes a little the menu to include more meat-free dishes and less meat-ones.

Conclusion: I do not think 1 or 2 persons' vegetarianism will have a significant impact of how a mixed buffet is organized, but if this information is transmitted beforehand, it will surely decrease meat consumption for that period.


Going to a mixed buffet and consuming lacto-ovo vegetarian products that contain egg and dairy products doesn't directly drive up demand for meat, but it does help to enable the meat-producing livestock industry.

Because dairy cows (and their calves) go to slaughter just like animals raised specifically for meat, the purchase of dairy products provides financial support for more meat production.

If you attend a mixed buffet and consume only vegan items, then the top answer is more relevant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.