You’re a vegan, but many restaurants are not. Sure, veganism is gaining speed and there are plenty of places that provide at least a dish or two that’s suitable for those who don’t eat animal products. However, there’s still a long way to go.
This doesn’t mean you have to sit around at home and wait until a vegan restaurant opens up in your town. There are plenty of ways that you can eat out and stay true to your lifestyle. Below are four ways to eat vegan in a non-vegan restaurant. Follow them and you can enjoy the finer things without faltering on your Earth-friendly path.
1. Choose Your Cuisine Wisely
As a vegan, you would most likely avoid waltzing into the local steakhouse and expecting an animal-product-free meal. Instead, try hitting up local cafes and restaurants that serve cuisines likely to be vegan-friendly.
To make your life easier, try cuisines like Indian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern and Mexican, which rely heavily on beans, vegetables and grains for vegans and non-vegans alike (just skip the cheese). For many of these dishes, you’ll have to ask your waiter or waitress to have the chef prepare your meal without butter or other non-vegan ingredients – more on that later. However, you should be able to find something on a menu at these types of restaurants, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Italian spots.
2. Make Adjustments
We touched on this in No. 1, but it’s vital for vegans to make requests and adjustments when eating out. Perhaps you’re at an Indian restaurant, for example. There are plenty of seemingly vegan options at many Indian places, but you’ll have to ensure that they’re cooked without butter or ghee, a traditional Indian butter. Ask the chef to prepare your plate in a different way.
The same goes for other restaurants. You might find something that sounds delicious that comes with sprinkled with cheese or dipped in egg. The kitchen staff will have no trouble tailoring them to your needs, so don’t be afraid to ask. Even when ordering online, you can make these sorts of tiny adjustments, too; then you can have a vegan meal delivered to your door.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Always remember that it’s the restaurant’s job to accommodate its clients as best as possible. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your waiter or waitress to go back to the kitchen and ask what ingredients go into the prep of a plate that seems vegan on the menu. Some menu descriptions won’t reveal every ingredient used to dress your sandwich or salad, either. If you’re ever suspicious, speak up.
Some vegans make it a practice to tell waiters that they have dietary restrictions as soon as they sit down. This is a great idea – it allows the staffer to provide you the most information possible about each dish so that you can make an informed eating decision. You can also find many online menus for chain restaurants that have been edited to show you which items are vegan and which items can be made vegan with a few slight adjustments. Have a look at one before you head out to plan what you’ll order.
4. Look for the Regulars
Whether you’ve run out to grab a quick lunch or ended up at a restaurant that doesn’t quite fit the above parameters, there are some shortcuts that every vegan should know when eating out. When all else fails, most eateries will have salads. Cut the meat and cheese and choose a dairy-free dressing for an easy meal. Vegetable-loaded sandwiches, vegetable soups made with vegetable stock, and rice and veggies should also be easy to come by in a pinch.
No matter where you end up, you should be able to find something that fits your lifestyle and still allows you to enjoy the fun of eating out every once in a while. Now, get out there and have someone else make you dinner – you deserve it.
*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons