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A restaurant owner in Ireland is facing the wrath of vegetarians and vegans across the Internet after posting what he thought was a harmless tongue-in-cheek warning to non-meat eating diners.
In August, Paul Stenson, who manages Dublin's White Moose Café, posted a notice on the restaurant’s official Facebook page that read:
“**Attention Vegans** Please do not waltz into our café with no notice and look at us like we have ten heads when you realise that there aren’t 50,000 items on our menu that suit your idiosyncratic dietary requirements. Our chef will be more than happy to prepare a number of dishes for you but a little heads up in advance would be appreciated.”
Stenson told BuzzFeed that the post went unnoticed for almost two months but last week caught the attention of a woman who shared the post with various vegan groups.
The café’s Facebook page was soon bombarded with negative comments and reviews. Many didn’t appear to understand the joke:
“I'm hoping that this is a joke. U cannot ban anyone from your place and anyway us vegans don't want to come anywhere near a bigoted place that attacks ppl. Oh btw this is breaking the law it's called discrimination smile emoticon the fact u find it funny to laugh at people who have the right to eat what they want is beyond belief!” wrote user Kate Hill.
Stenson says after the barrage of comments, he couldn’t just turn the other cheek.
“My page is run in a tongue-in-cheek way so I can never back down,” Stenson told BuzzFeed. “So I fought fire with fire.”
“I’m loving the negative reviews we’ve been receiving by every vegan who exists on the planet earth. The reality of the situation is that 100pc of these people have never even been in the café and are writing these reviews because they chose to take offense to one of my posts relating to the sense of over entitlement that vegans seem to have,” he posted on Oct. 22.
This garnered even more angry responses to which Stenson upped the ante.
“Given the torrent of abuse and unjustified negative reviews we have been receiving from the vegan population over the past 24 hours, all vegans are now barred from our cafe. All vegans entering the café will be shot at point blank range,” Stenson wrote on Oct. 23.
That escalated the social media battle to the next level.
“Death threats aren't funny. I'm not a vegan. Your chefs are crap if they can't cook a dish and simply omit the meat.. How childish,” wrote Abbey Rose who left a one star review on Yelp.
“Any place that makes fun of other people's beliefs is not a place I'd like to go to,” said Facebook user Shane Russo.
A Facebook group called People Against the White Moose Café has sprung up in the wake of the controversy, with the sole purpose of bringing down the Dublin café.
The group’s description reads: “We The People are united in our stand against The White Moose Cafe and its owner Paul Stenson.”
Stenson says amid all the attacks, he’s been inundated with support from locals as well as well-wishers around the world.
“I'm here bc of the vegans. LOL. Wish I could go to the restaurant. I'm from Brazil though, maybe in a couple of years. Congrats on the great jokes and success,” posted Victor Ferrarion Facebook.
"Hey, White Moose Cafe, Texas here. We love meat! Keep on being a healthy choice amongst the eateries in Dublin, and serve your meat proudly! If you're ever in Dallas, look me up, we shall go out for a brew and a 16oz ribeye, no veggies!" wrote Todd Johnson.
Stenson continues to troll his vegan enemies and recently offered a discounted full Irish breakfast loaded with ham and sausage.
Yelp has even stepped in to help ward off inaccurate reviews, posting a disclaimer on White Moose’s page:
“This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their reactions. The best place to share your thoughts is on Yelp Talk. You are also welcome to post a review about this business, but we will ultimately remove reviews that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than by the reviewer’s own customer experience with the business (even if that means removing points of view we might agree with).
Stenson is still maintaining the Facebook page’s sense of humor. Wednesday night, he posted another sarcastic message for his detractors:
“Vegans, You were given one task. One fucking task. You were supposed to damage the reputation of our café forever. I would have thought this would be easy for you guys? But no no. Apparently you couldn't even do that.
This is beginning to look a little embarrassing for you now.
P.S. If I was paying you for this you'd have been fired by now.”
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This article was originally published on October 29, 2015