A common concern about the vegan lifestyle is staying vegan while eating out. Many fear they must decide between eating a boring undressed salad or relinquishing their social life altogether. Luckily, with a bit of strategy, staying vegan while eating out is easy, delicious, and a lot of fun. Here are some tips:
Find Vegan Friendly Restaurants
Though you may not always have the opportunity to choose where you go out to eat, it helps to suggest some vegan-friendly restaurants. To find restaurants nearby to you, use HappyCow.net. You can also get the Happy Cow app to look up restaurants on the go. Simply enter your geographic location, and Happy Cow finds all of the vegetarian, vegan, and veg-friendly restaurants nearby.
Look Up the Menu Beforehand
Found this in the handy online nutrition guide I looked up prior to going out.
Don’t be that annoying vegan who gives the waiter a third degree in front of all their friends. Most restaurants have a menu available on their website that contains nutrition and allergen information. Familiarize yourself with the options and then surprise your friends with what a breeze eating out vegan is.
Even if an entree is not vegan, it may be possible to make it vegan with a few alterations, such as by substituting meat for tofu. Just ask the waiter. If you find yourself in a position where the restaurant does not carry a vegan entree you like, most will be more than happy to accommodate you by piecing together a few side dishes to make a meal. To make the meal a bit tastier, some enjoy bringing a few extras with them to the restaurant, such as vegan Parmesan, butter, or salad dressing.
Surprisingly, many people working in the food industry do not know what “vegan” means. Instead of confusing them, ask them directly whether a particular dish contains dairy or eggs. You would hate to have them misunderstand and bring you a gluten free or vegetarian dish instead. And if they make a mistake, be kind and understanding. That’s what veganism is all about, after all.
At a restaurant, all of your food is prepared out of your sight, so contamination is not always possible to prevent. Instead of making a scene, stay calm. Veganism should be about the animals, not personal purity. Don’t give your friends the idea that the vegan lifestyle is extremely difficult and restrictive. Instead, show them how easy and flexible it is.
Having a meal that is 98% vegan just once or twice a month is not devastating. Though flipping a vegan burger with the same spatula as a meat burger contaminates the vegan burger, it does not increase the demand for meat at all. So from an ethical standpoint, what utensils or pan they use to prepare your food does not matter. Instead of stressing about contamination, relax and have a good time with your friends and family. Maybe when they see how delicious your meal looks, they will give the vegan entree a try, too.
Those are my tips for staying vegan while eating out! It may feel like more preparation for a meal out than you are used to, but with practice, it becomes easy. With delicious and healthy vegan food at almost any restaurant, there is no need to fear eating out.