Refried Beans on the Celebrity Solstice, redux

Graffiti on rock, Dunningham reserve, Coogee, Australia.  It symbolizes my search for the ingredients in the refried beans served aboard the Celebrity Solstice.

I've written about my difficulty in getting a response from the crew of the Celebrity Solstice about the ingredients in their refried beans.  It was a simple question.  Do the refried beans served in the Oceanside Cafe almost daily contain lard or other animal products?  This is a big deal to vegans and vegetarians, as well as for people with religious prohibitions against eating pork.

Lard is made of pork fat.

The answer is right on the ingredient label, or in the recipe if they make their refried beans from scratch.  Instead of looking, however, multiple chefs and shift supervisors would promise to "get back to me."  They never did.

I don't want to leave the impression that my questions were never answered.  Here, Karol, the Food and Beverage Director, is getting me an answer immediately about whether the ahi tuna was Marine Stewardship Council certified.  It wasn't, but Karol shared with me the list of fish that were.  He had rotated off the ship when the refried bean issue came up.  I'm certain he would have gotten an answer for me in minutes.

On my return to Utah, I sent a note to an email address ( I found for "post cruise comments." I wrote, "I've just completed my cruise on the Solstice, traveling from Sydney to Honolulu. Throughout this 19 day cruise, we had a heck of a time trying to get the ingredient list for refried beans served almost every day in the Oceanview Cafe. The question is, do the refried beans served on the ship contain lard or other animal products, or are they "vegetarian" beans?  When we talked to servers, supervisors, and chefs, we either got conflicting information or we were told that they would get back to us.  No one ever contacted us. Please, please, for the sake of the vegetarians, Jews, and Muslims on the ship, let us know if the refried beans contain pork lard or other animal products.  I would appreciate a copy of the ingredient list. Also, I'd like to know why our question was never answered on the ship, after asking chefs and supervisors on multiple occasions."

The day after I sent this message, we received a phone message as interpreted by the Google Voice transcription.  It said, "Hello, this is Sean [Norman] with Celebrity Cruises. I'm calling in regards to the email sent by Robert Schmidt. We're requesting information about the ingredients for the refried beans on board. I've gone ahead and sent an email to the ship. So I'm expecting a reply in the next few days. Once I have a response. I will go ahead and follow up with you. Thank you very much."

Well, that was a pleasant and timely response from Celebrity!

Today (May 13), I received this email from Mr. Norman:

"Thank you for your patience while I researched your request.  Please be advised the refried beans used on board the Celebrity Solstice include the following:

Prepared Pinto and Pink Beans
Lard [emphasis added]

I apologize for the delay, and for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Some of the refried beans in my grocery store.

Thank you, Sean Norman!  Obviously with pork lard as an ingredient, a number of people would choose to avoid these refried beans for religious, ethical, or health reasons.  But with the executive chef, shift supervisors and servers trying to convince us that they were "vegetarian," I suspect a number of people were fooled into eating them.  Worse, they will continue to be fooled unless the Solstice food service staff get their act together.

In 2002, McDonald's settled a legal suit for advertising their fries as being vegetarian, while knowing that the flavoring contained beef products.  CBS reported that McDonald's noted, "We regret we did not provide these customers with complete information, and we sincerely apologize for any hardship that these miscommunications have caused among Hindus, vegetarians and others."

Trivial?  Would you expect accurate information if you were allergic to peanuts or shellfish, needed to avoid gluten, were on a low-cholesterol diet, used medications that necessitated avoiding certain foods, or had other dietary restrictions?  You would expect accurate and timely information.  

I feel bad for people avoiding pork for whatever reason.  I wish the Solstice crew cared as well.

As far as my request that, "I'd like to know why our question was never answered on the ship, after asking chefs and supervisors on multiple occasions," I suspect the reason I never got an answer was because of the "oops" factor.  "Oops, I've been telling everyone who asked that the refried beans were vegetarian.  Lucky for me, I can wait until the cruise is over and the questioner will disembark."

Lucky for me, Sean Norman tracked down the answer.

Some creatures don't have a prohibition on eating pork.


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