I have a blog crush on BrownVegan’s blog. I just started reading today and I’m totally swooning over her recipes. She has a post with tips on dining out as a vegan, which is really useful. There were a few I’d add, so I did here on my own blog.
I don’t find dining out difficult, in general, except under two particular circumstances: 1) I’m dining out with people who prefer fast food, or 2) the rare circumstance that it’s a restaurant with no vegetables. You’d be surprised how many restaurants actually don’t carry any produce – fresh or otherwise – other than bagged salad. Side note: record, I’m very underwhelmed by salad menus, so that really doesn’t count. Also, that wack spring salad greens mix that restaurants put on a plate and overcharge needs to be kissed by a dementor. (I can buy a pound of that mix in my food coop for $3!)
Anyhow, here are some clues and tips that I’ve developed over the years for dining in restaurants that are NOT either of the two above:
-Don’t use the terms ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan,’ unless you know the restaurant (or server) is familiar with the meanings, don’t frustrate yourself. You don’t want the split pea soup to come with ham bits in it because the server thought bits didn’t count as meat. Just ask what things like, “What on the menu isn’t cooked with any animal products, fish, milk, or butter?” and expect them to have to ask the cook.
it may even help to say you’re allergic to meat, fish, and dairy. On an ethical level, you are and no one argues with allergies.
- Create a meal out of the sides.If there are beans, grains, and veggies on the sides menu, make your own vegetarian platter of it. If you think the aggregate pricing is unfair, speak to the manager and propose a more reasonable price for your creation and make a pitch for adding the platter as a vegan option for those coming after you.
-Don’t be afraid to ask the server if the meals you find appetizing can be made with vegetables or without meat.
I generally find “ethnic” restaurants to be the most vegan-friendly. Ethiopian is my favorite, but Indian, Mediterranean, and Senegalese also come through consistently.
If you’re in a city, chances are that the establishment will be willing to work with you on some level. There are those places that don’t carry any produce or don’t make any meals to order. I would stay away from them in general. However, vegetarianism is becoming so normalized these days that you shouldn’t have find yourself excluded from enjoying meals with your omnivorous friends and family.