It’s fairly easy to find vegan restaurants these days, but what if you want to go out with friends and they want to eat at a non-vegan restaurant? It can be a challenge to find something besides a plain green salad to eat when you head to a new restaurant. Here are some tips for making this work.
Do some research. You can usually check menus online. I always do this, no matter where I’m going to eat, just so I have an idea as to what to expect in terms of pricing and food. It’s a good idea to make a list of restaurants that carry vegan options. When your friends want to go out, you can jump in and say, “I heard that such and such a restaurant is really good!”
Go ahead and ask. Not sure if that vegetarian sandwich is vegan? Ask! You have nothing to lose. If you want to prepare ahead of time, call the restaurant to find out which items on their menus are vegan. Be prepared to explain what this means, since some people aren’t sure how vegan differs from vegetarian.
Eat first. Most of the time, getting together with friends to eat is about the socializing more than the food. Eat something filling at home before you go and you’ll be able to get through the evening with a salad or some veggie dish. Since some restaurants only offer appetizers without animal products, you can enjoy one while everyone else eats a full meal. You’ll save money and don’t have to worry about figuring out what to eat.
Bring your own dressing. One trick I’ve used before is to order a plain salad and add my own dressing brought from home. Most salad dressings use ingredients like cream, cheese or honey, so I like to have my own with me so I know just what has gone into it.
Make a special request. Many restaurants are willing to make some changes for their diners. I would suggest calling ahead to make sure that they can accommodate your request. Upon arrival, let the waiter know that you want your rice and veggies without chicken or the flatbread without the tzatziki sauce. In most cases, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Keep in mind that things like soups and pasta sauces are usually made ahead in large batches, so they will not be able to customize for you. However, they may be willing to whip up something new, depending on the chef.
Dining out is a part of life for most people. When you’re with carnivorous friends, you don’t have to starve or insist that they eat at a vegan café (though you should certainly introduce them to the deliciousness of vegan at least once). Use these tips to enjoy eating with friends anywhere you go.
Do you have any tips for eating out as a vegan?