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VEGETARIANISM

Spanish vegan restaurant sparks row with ban on bottled milk for babies

Tarragona restaurant insists policy is coherent with its views on animal rights

A vegan restaurant in the Spanish city of Tarragona, in Catalonia, has been accused of “humiliating” mothers bottle feeding their babies while dining there, sparking an online spat.

El Vergel says it is sticking to its policy of banning baby formula.
El Vergel says it is sticking to its policy of banning baby formula.

El Vergel de Tarragona, located close to the city’s cathedral, has a strict policy of not using processed foodstuffs or any product of animal origin on its premises, which includes the dried cow’s milk used in baby formula.

The restaurant has a sign on its door making clear its position: “We like mothers, of all species. That’s why we don’t like bottle feeds based on cow’s milk. Please don’t use them in the restaurant.”

But when local digital daily Tarragona Diari recently began reporting negative reviews on travel review website TripAdvisor from customers who say they have been made to feel unwelcome by staff at El Vergel when bottle feeding their babies, the restaurant found its website inundated with hostile comments.

People have left comments on TripAdvisor such as: “Run by Nazis, avoid,” with others describing the owners as “talibans”

“Humiliated mother,” read one review on TripAdvisor, now taken down, which goes on to explain how the mother in question was approached by a waiter while she was bottle feeding with the member of staff leaving a note on her table reminding her of the restaurant’s policy and the warning on the door.

In turn, the TripAdvisor comment was answered by the owner of the restaurant who pointed out that he had left a written message on the woman’s table precisely to avoid embarrassing her in front of other customers, and pointing out that “each restaurant has its own rules,” adding: “We do not discriminate against families with children, despite many complaints from other customers asking for them to be banned.”

Following the media coverage, other people unimpressed by El Vergel’s strict policy on animal-sourced products have left comments on TripAdvisor such as: “Run by Nazis, avoid,” with others describing the owners as “talibans” and “intolerant.”

The owners say that while they have been unsettled by the media coverage and the storm of criticism they have received, they will stick to their policy of banning food brought in from outside, and that includes dried-milk formula for babies.

We do not discriminate against children, despite complaints from other customers asking for them to be banned

El Vergel de Tarragona

Furthermore, they add that customers are allowed to bring their dogs with them and that mothers are more than welcome to breast feed, but that they have grown tired of parents feeding their infants bottled milk and jars of baby food.

Referring to the mother who felt “humiliated,” one of the owners of El Vergel said: “Mothers who have been genuinely humiliated are those raped throughout their lives to have babies that are then stolen and butchered so that humans can take the milk that was for them: these mothers are cows, sheep, and goats, the victims of the bottle you feed your child.”

English version by Nick Lyne.

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