A Vegan’s Guide to Dining Out

Dining out can present a bit of a challenge to vegans. While there are some incredible restaurants that are strictly vegan, the vast majority of establishments are not. With a little practice and patience, though, finding delicious restaurant meals made without meat or other animal products can become fairly easy.

When dining at a non-vegan restaurant, it is very helpful to speak to the waiter prior to ordering. Explain to the server (with a smile and kind attitude, of course) that you are vegan and what, exactly, that means. Servers can often make excellent recommendations, and they are usually happy to check with the chef to make sure all of the ingredients in a dish are vegan or that something typically made with animal ingredients is prepared as a vegan meal for you.

It is important to ask about the ingredients in a dish, even if the item sounds completely vegan. Verify the ingredients in salad dressings, breads, soups, and sauces. Butter and cheese are particularly notorious for “sneaking into” dishes where you might not expect to find them. Some restaurants have meat, cheese, or eggs in their house salads or don’t realize that vegetarians and vegans don’t eat chicken or fish. There are often fish ingredients hidden in sauces in Thai restaurants. Some Japanese miso soups are vegan, while other have fish ingredients in the broth. Indian dishes may have ghee (clarified butter), cheese, or other dairy products in certain menu items, though others are perfectly vegan.

You can request that a dish normally prepared with butter be made using olive oil instead; this works well for pasta dishes, steamed vegetables, or something in which to dip your otherwise bare bread.

If you’re looking at the menu and feeling disheartened because you don’t see anything that looks acceptable, don’t despair! You can create a magnificent meal by “inventing” your own dish using ingredients found in various menu offerings. For example: the chicken and broccoli dish sounds good, except for the chicken; the pasta with olive oil and garlic would be fantastic without the shrimp; the rice with beans would be appealing, if only it didn’t come covered with cheese; and the beef with mushrooms and onions would clearly better without the beef. Tell the server (again, with a smile so he or she knows you’re not intentionally trying to make life difficult!) you would like pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and beans in a light olive oil and garlic sauce. You know they can do this because you have the evidence in your hands that they have all the ingredients!

After your delicious meal, thank the waiter profusely, send your thanks to the chef, and leave a good tip.

Bon appétit!

Here are several excellent resources for vegans who enjoy dining out:
Happy Cow
Vegan Eating Out

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *