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15 Restaurant Menu Items That Sound Vegan but Might Have a Secret
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15 Restaurant Menu Items That Sound Vegan but Might Have a Secret

It can be tricky to eat out when you’re vegan. Yes, there are restaurants that make only vegan and vegetarian recipes. But if you’re out with family or non-vegan friends, there are some common items that sound vegan but might contain animal products. Here’s a list of fifteen:

1.) MashedpPotatoes: This one’s a no-brainer, since most restaurants will use milk and butter in their mashed potatoes. Some will also use chicken broth. Beware of baked potatoes, too. Ask if the skin was rubbed with butter, or ask if you can have one rubbed with olive oil.

2.) Mushroom Soup: It’s not difficult to make mushroom soup vegan, but many restaurants use beef and/or chicken broth, milk and butter in this soup. Soups in general can be tricky. I’ve seen signs next to mushroom soup that say “vegetarian” but when I ask what they are cooked in, often there is an “Oops! I used butter.” So it’s wise to check.

3.) Tabbouli: This Middle Eastern veggie and grain dish sounds foolproof. But it can often contain chicken broth. If it’s labeled as Vegan it’s usually made with vegetable broth or water.

4.) Vegetable Soup: Sounds vegan, but can often be made with beef broth.

5.) Veggie Sandwich: Ask for a veggie sandwich spread with hummus. Otherwise you might end up with cream cheese.

6.) Oatmeal: Often this is safe, but make sure that no butter has been added during cooking or after the oatmeal was cooked.

7.) Veggie Sushi: Some establishments sprinkle bonito fish flakes, even over vegetarian sushi rolls. Be sure to ask for no bonito.

8.) Sauteed Mushrooms: These can easily be made with olive oil, but often have a splash of Worchestershire sauce, which contains fish. They are also often sautéed in butter, so be sure to ask.

9.) Sauces in General: Sauces are often cooked with butter and fish oil, to enhance flavor. Other non-vegan items like Worchestershire sauce, eggs or mayonnaise might be added as well.

10.) Pasta: Many types of pastas, especially in restaurants that make it from scratch, contain eggs. Even gluten-free pastas can contain eggs, so look for egg-free, vegan pasta.

11.) Re-fried Beans and Rice: Re-fried beans, unless they are cooked with olive or other vegan oils, are often cooked in lard. They also often come topped with cheese. Rice is sometimes cooked in chicken or other non-vegan broths and can have a touch of butter added after cooking.

12.) Hidden Bacon: I’ve ordered steamed green beans and had them come with bits of bacon. Some fast food restaurants also steam vegetables over chicken or beef broth.

13.) Nut Butters: Often these are safe, but some contain honey and/or non vegan oils.

14.) Beer: Some use animal products for processing. Guinness, for example, does. Corona doesn’t. You can do research ahead of time to know what to order.

15.) Salad: Believe it or not, many dressings contain hidden fish oils, or even bits of bacon. Ask for oil and vinegar and be sure to ask for no additions to the salads. Even when I've asked for plain salad, it has come with bits of bacon and/or chopped egg.

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  1. Eve Sherrill York
    Eve Sherrill York
    Good tips.
    Log in to reply.


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