It’s happened to all of us – you go out to a restaurant with friends or family, only to discover that they don’t have a single vegan thing on the menu, and you’re left crunching on a stripped-down house salad while everyone else enjoys their meals. While you can’t control where you eat out all the time, it’s sometimes possible to come up with a good vegan option from the foods available. Here are five tips for dining out as a vegan:
1) Get to know the vegan restaurants in your area. Talk to other vegans and ask them which restaurants are good for getting some tasty vegan grub. There probably won’t be an abundance of purely vegetarian or vegan restaurants in your area, especially if you live in a smaller town, but some people who have had your dilemma before will know of some good restaurants that cook tasty vegan or vegetarian options.
2) Find a Hare-Krishna restaurant or stall. Hare Krishna food is, traditionally, totally vegan. They might try to sell you some books about spirituality, but their food is good! Spiced lentils, dhal, rice, spinach and loads of delicious baked potatoes and legumes. Hare Krishna food is probably going to become one of your staples because it’s easy to cook, very tasty and full of protein and vitamins. You can pick up a free copy of a Hare Krishna cookbook in most Hare Krishna restaurants, although in some cases they will ask you for a donation.
3) Get together a group of vegetarian and vegan friends and go out once a month to a new vegan place you’ve found. It’s not always easy to find vegan restaurants, but if you go as a group and try out a new place that promises some good vegan fare, you could quite possibly stumble on a new favourite place to eat. Most restaurants now post their menus online, so this makes dining out as a vegan a little easier.
4) If you’re going to a wedding or a function and there’s no vegan option, don’t panic! Just take some snack bars in your bag or pocket and tough it out. If you chow down on snacks you won’t feel so bad missing out on food when everybody else is eating. See if they can make the vegetarian option without cream or whichever animal product has been used. Always try to ask ahead if there will be a vegan option provided. If you’re a plus one and you don’t want to ask, then resort to plan A of bringing your own snacks!
5) Go off the menu. Now, this isn’t usually the most popular option, but it is usually possible in most restaurants if it isn’t too busy. You can usually combine ingredients you see in some dishes together, in the way that they are usually prepared (if vegetables are grilled, don’t ask for them steamed because the kitchen won’t be equipped to do it). Don’t ask for ingredients that aren’t there, and be sensitive to whether or not the restaurant is busy. Those kinds of orders interrupt the production line in most kitchens, and can only be handled if there isn’t too much time pressure.