Recently, I celebrated another birthday. (Which, for those who are wondering, puts me somewhere in between “younger than springtime” and “older than dirt.”)
A long time ago, when we were both vegetarians, my partner signed us up for a number of “Birthday Freebies.” Since our birthdays are close together, we were able to use our coupons at the same time and dine out for free for a week! A typical day might start with a free pancake brunch at IHOP, followed by a birthday dinner of free veggie burgers at Ruby Tuesday, followed by cups of free Dippin’ Dots. (What a cruel irony I only discovered Dippin’ Dots the year before I went vegan!)
I’m still getting freebie offers due to those long-ago signups. To my surprise, there were many I could still use as a vegan!
A couple of caveats before we begin:
Use the email address you set up for receiving coupons, NOT your main email address;
Sign up for the appropriate mailing list or e-club at least a month before your actual birthday;
Not all offers are pure “freebies;” some require you to buy a drink or may be dollars-off coupons;
Read the small print. Some offers are good for the “month of,” or “week of” your birthday; a few may only be good the “day of”;
I can’t guarantee everyone will receive the exact same offer; there may be other variables involved such as how much you actually do frequent a place or what part of the country you live in; and
Since I live in Charlotte, NC, these are freebies available in Charlotte. If you live elsewhere, I encourage you to use my suggestions as a starting point (you’ll likely have many of the same chains in your area) and then Google and investigate what additional offers might be available in your neck of the woods.
Now, the free birthday offers I received this year that I could use as a vegan:
AMF Bowling – Free bowling. Also, just for signing up you can get $20 off your next bowling visit ($5 per person, max. 4 people).
(NOTE: While AMF does have a few vegetarian options – such as veggie pizza – there’s little, if anything, vegan except for beer. So plan on dining before or after. Also, if you don’t want to rent leather bowling shoes, seriously consider buying your own pair of non-leather bowling shoes. I bought my Dexter synthetic leather bowling shoes off ebay for $30, and within just a few bowling visits they paid for themselves.)
Ben & Jerry’s – Free ice cream on your birthday (currently Ben & Jerry’s has three flavors of dairy-free sorbet).
Caribou Coffee – Free medium drink. Only on your birthday. They do have soymilk.
Coldstone Creamery – BOGO coupon for a “creation” (they offer non-dairy sorbet). You’ll also get a BOGO coupon just for signing up.
Columbia Sportswear – 20% off birthday coupon.
CVS Beauty Club – $3 ExtraBucks to spend on CVS merchandise.
DSW – $5 coupon on your birthday. I highly encourage you to sign up for this one; DSW has a large range of non-leather shoes, athletic shoes, and women’s purses, plus a number of great offers throughout the year and “reward certificates” good for $$ off your next purchase. Here’s an example: I bought my partner a pair of Saucony running shoes for his birthday. I’ve seen the shoes elsewhere for $80; DSW was offering them for $49.95. I used a coupon I’d received for $20 off a $49 purchase, plus $10 in reward certificates and my $5 birthday coupon. Grand total: $14.95 before tax!
Dunkin Donuts – Free medium drink when you join and on your birthday. Some – not all – locations offer soymilk. You’ll need to ask.
Firehouse Subs – A free medium sub, good only on the day of your birthday. The vegan option is the veggie sub without mayo, cheese, or mushrooms, on white or wheat bread. Not all that exciting, but you could always order some extra toppings.
Jackalope Jack’s -Not sure if they are still offering this, but in years past they would give everyone at your table a free shot on your birthday. Be prepared to show your ID to prove it really IS your birthday (and that you are old enough for that shot).
Jason’s Deli $5 off birthday coupon. Currently, their vegan options are Vegetable Soup, Spinach Veggie Wrap without cheese, and salad bar. You can also sign up to be on their vegetarian/vegan mailing list.
Jersey Mikes Subs – A free sub and drink, good only on the day of your birthday. Vegan options are The Veggie without cheese or The Veggie Wrap without cheese and dressing.
Kellogg’s (i.e., Morningstar Farms). I signed up at this site to be able to print coupons, and to my surprise they emailed me a bunch of product coupons on my birthday.
Mama Fu’s – Free appetizer – Tofu Lettuce Wraps, Basil Spring Rolls, or Endemame.
McAlister’s Deli – $5 off the purchase of an entree. They don’t have a lot of vegan choices, but they do have a few – Vegan Chili, Vegan Taco Salad, Spud Ole (with vegan chili), Veggie Spud (without cheese), salads.
Moe’s Southwest Grill – Free entree with purchase of a drink.
Noodles & Company – Free bowl of noodles. Several vegan options.
Pizza Fusion – There’s a rumor that if you join the Fusion Club, you will get a Free Signature Personal Pizza. I’m not sure if it is 100% free or if they will charge you, as usual, for the vegan cheese.
Qdoba – Free burrito.
Red Robin – This one’s a good one – good for a burger and a bottomless order of fries. They do have vegan Boca Burgers and are willing to customize them any way you like, so if you order water you can get a completely free meal. (The fries are cooked in a designated fryer apart from the other items so they actually are vegan; however I’m sure you could also substitute freckled fruit salad or broccoli.)
Silk Soymilk – This is another site I joined to print coupons, and they sent me several coupons on my birthday.
Sir Edmund Halley’s – One free lunch or dinner entree, good seven days before and seven days after your birthday. This is one of Charlotte’s best-kept veggie secrets – there’s loads of vegetarian options and a fair amount of vegan ones. They’ve even labeled menu items “vegetarian” or “vegetarian/vegan” if an item can be modified to be vegan.
Souper Salad – Coupon for a free lunch or dinner buffet. Tip: I always take a pat of Earth Balance in a small container with me so I can put it on a baked or sweet potato. If I forget, I grab some salsa for my potato from the nacho station.
Starbucks – Register a Starbucks gift card, and get a free “handcrafted” drink on your birthday. Normally Starbucks charges extra for soy, but on my birthday I was able to order a venti mocha frappacino with soy and no whip for – yeah, free. Only on your actual birthday.
TCBY Yogurt – A free yogurt; they have Silk non-dairy chocolate and vanilla options.
Finally, if it’s the actual day of your birthday, don’t forget to bargain and negotiate. Many sit-down restaurants will bring you a free dessert on your birthday – which, sadly, is usually non-vegan. Ask if they have a vegan option, such as fresh fruit or sorbet. Or ask if you could have a free coffee, drink, or appetizer instead.