Eating out as a vegan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. With a little bit of preparation and creativity, it’s possible to enjoy a delicious, plant-based meal at any restaurant. Here’s a survival guide for dining out vegan-style.
Research the restaurant ahead of time
Before you go out to eat, do some research on the restaurant’s menu. Many restaurants now have their menus available online, so you can see what vegan options are available before you arrive. If you can’t find the menu online, give the restaurant a call and ask if they have any vegan options. This will help you avoid disappointment when you get there.
Know what to look for
When you’re scanning the menu for vegan options, there are a few key things to look for. First, see if the restaurant offers any vegetarian dishes that can easily be made vegan by omitting dairy or eggs. You can also look for dishes that contain vegetables, grains, or legumes as the main ingredient. Some restaurants also offer vegan versions of their non-vegan dishes, such as vegan burgers or pasta dishes.
Don’t be afraid to make substitutions
Many restaurants are willing to accommodate special requests, so don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions to make a dish vegan. For example, you can ask for a vegetable stir-fry without the egg or a salad without the cheese. Just be polite and communicate your needs clearly to your server.
Consider ordering an appetizer or side dish as a main course
If the main courses on the menu don’t appeal to you, consider ordering an appetizer or side dish as a main course. Many restaurants offer a variety of vegan-friendly appetizers, such as hummus, bruschetta, or roasted vegetables. You can also order a side of grains, beans, or vegetables as your main course.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re still having trouble finding a vegan option on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask your server for help. Many servers are knowledgeable about the ingredients in the dishes they serve and can help you find something that meets your dietary needs.
Additional vegan dining-out tips
- Call ahead to make a reservation and let the restaurant know about your dietary needs. This can give the kitchen time to prepare a special vegan dish for you or make adjustments to an existing dish.
- Consider trying ethnic cuisines that are naturally vegan-friendly, such as Indian, Thai, or Mexican. These types of restaurants often have a wider variety of vegan options on the menu.
- Look for vegan-friendly chains and fast food restaurants. Many chain restaurants and fast food places now offer vegan options, such as vegan burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re not sure whether a dish is vegan, ask your server or the chef for clarification. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Be prepared to pay a little extra. Depending on where you are dining, vegan options may be a little more expensive than non-vegan options. Keep this in mind when budgeting for meals.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not always possible to find a 100% vegan meal at every restaurant. If you have to make a few compromises, that’s okay. The most important thing is that you are trying your best to stick to a vegan diet.
Dining out vegan-style doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little bit of research and creativity, you can enjoy a delicious, plant-based meal at any restaurant.