For years, I had been going to Olive Garden with my family in a variety of cities. I knew that I could at least get whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce on it. And, my family was willing to go. So, it was a compromise that didn't make me upset. It never occurred to me that what I was eating might not be vegan at all. Here is what the Olive Garden website says:
Which menu selections are vegetarian?
A few of our menu items can be adjusted to accommodate a vegan or vegetarian diet, but none wholly meet the criteria. Depending on your personal philosophy, we can suggest the following items as meatless, but not necessarily vegetarian or vegan:
Minestrone soup (vegetable and mushroom base; no meat protein)
Garden Salad (without dressing)
Marinara Sauce (mushroom base; no meat protein)
It is interesting to me that they say that vegetarians and vegans can be accommodated, but then it says none of their menu items "wholly meet the criteria." To me, that means, nothing is vegetarian or vegan. It makes me think of the food scientists in "Fast Food Nation" adding flavorings made of meat products. That's what McDonald's did when they stopped frying their French fries in beef tallow. To keep the same flavor, they simply added essence of beef fat into the fries. I wonder what sort of crazy experimentation Olive Garden is up to, but as far as I am concerned, they can keep their meals created in laboratories to themselves. They do not cook authentic Italian food, and I will never trust them again.