On Tipping


“Tipping is not included…” How often have I heard this when going out for dinner?


Not that often, actually (surprise!). I’d say about one in 10 times I go out for dinner or lunch, maybe less. Because it is so rare it kinda stands out. So, when recently I again was confronted with this phrase, in a restaurant which was really not that great, it kinda inspired me to write a little post on the subject. Get ready for some random thoughts!


The places that I have been told about the “service is not included” are mostly tourist-y places and restaurants in the US. Now I know that in the US tipping is a big deal, because often restaurant employees are underpaid and the tips are part of their livelihood. In Northern Europe, not so much. I am not saying servers are rich, but restaurant workers make a living wage, so all tipping is extra. When going abroad I usually make sure to read up on the local tipping culture to avoid making some social faux pas. For example, in some Asian countries giving a tip is apparently considered rude!

But I do feel that if you are in a very touristic area/appear to be a tourist restaurants are more likely to pull the “Tipping not included :)”-card, even in countries where tipping is not mandatory. (Which is what happened in the restaurant of the second paragraph…)

So when is the tip included? Sometimes you see ‘service compris’ or ‘service included’ on the menu card or the bill, which means that the gratuity *is* in fact included in the price. I noticed this in some restaurants in e.g France and Italy.

Where does the idea of giving extra money on top of a bill come from when it comes to eating out? It is kinda weird if you think about it. If I buy a new phone I won’t tell the salesperson to ‘keep the change’. Or leave some coins in the air plane seat after flying. It seems that gratuity is due to historical reasons; service personnel used to be paid badly and the tips were (a large part of) their income. Additionally there was a power difference, where the wealthy eater would offer some coins to the less affluent service staff.

In many countries this has been changed later and service personnel actually get at least minimum wage. But the habit remained.

Bill at American Dream Diner

Personally, I give some extra money if the service has been good-to-great. If the service is okay it depends on how much coins I have (hey that is a factor too!). Normally I would round the bill up to a nice number to give about 5-10 %** depending on the price of the food.


Since I became vegan I have noticed that my tipping behaviour has changed. The availability of vegan options, and the reactions of the staff definitively plays a role here. I tend to tip more at fully vegan restaurants, and restaurants that have good & clearly marked vegan options. Also restaurants that have no vegan options that are willing to make me something special, or are accommodating in another way, will get more money from me.

Because if I go somewhere and people are thoughtful and caring, I want to throw money at them to stimulate them to do that more. I think overall, as a vegan I give larger tips compared to when I was still vegetarian. I do also feel a bit that I am representing a larger group so I want to leave a positive impression 🙂



What are your thoughts on gratuity & service charges? Do you think tipping is silly and you refuse it or are you always very generous? Did you start tipping more when going vegan too? Let me know! I am always interested to hear others opinions on this, because no matter how rational we approach gratuity, it remains a tricky topic I think.



**Now, if you are used to tipping 10-20%, that seems super stingy, but remember these people make a normal living wage.


Author: Sandra

Running, cats, sewing, vegan cooking and eating.

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