So, your friends invite you out after work or your family wants to go out for dinner, and you’re not sure how to do this vegan thing while eating out…don’t panic!
Vegan Momma to the rescue!
I fancy myself as a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to eating out as a vegan, I love going out to eat with family and friends, and I always say that no matter where we go, I can and will find something!
There are a variety of options at almost any restaurant. Sometimes you’ll have to substitute or take off the dairy, but it is definitely easy and do-able! I typically first look if there’s already an item on the menu that’s vegan or vegetarian. If there isn’t, remove the meat and or dairy. Depending on the type of restaurant you are at, you could add other yummy vegan add-ons, such as avocado, potato, beans, rice, extra veggies, etc.
Do your research
Google the restaurant and menu. Often times you can Google “[Restaurant name] vegan items” to see what is or can be made vegan. You could also look up the menu to see what your options are, that way you can plan ahead on what you can order, or if there doesn’t seem to be many options you like and you have a say in the restaurant choice, you can chose another restaurant that better suit you.
Be clear, nice and polite
If you’re making substitutions and changes, try to be as clear and as polite as possible. Don’t just say “make it vegan”, you need to be clear that you do not want any dairy, eggs, meat, or fish in your meal. Be extra nice and polite about your requests, most restaurants will be happy to accommodate you!
Look for codes on the menu
Many restaurant menus these days have a key code guide that will list if an item is vegetarian or vegan. Sometimes it will be a leaf or a green “v”, or some other type of icon. The guide will usually be at the bottom of the menu. I’m always excited when I find these, since it makes it so much easier to find items that will work. Some restaurants will even have a vegetarian or vegan section of their menu, I get super excited when I see this! Vegan win, yay!
What to order
Depending on the type of food you’ve gone out for, I have go-to items that I tend to order at each type of restaurant. Here’s a handy guide to show you some of the options at various restaurants.
Guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips are a fav of mine! Bean, bean & rice, or veggie burritos, rice, veggie tacos, veggie fajitas, taco salad. Ask if there is cheese, sour cream, lard (in the beans), bacon (in the beans), or if the rice is made with chicken broth. Sometimes, the refried beans will have lard, but the whole black beans or pinto beans won’t. I like to add extra guacamole or avocado to most items as well!
Pasta (I like to add grilled veggies) with a non-dairy based sauce. Bread with olive oil & balsamic, salad, bruschetta, olives, grilled artichokes, veggie pizza with no cheese. Tips: Double check that there are no cheese or eggs (in the pasta), also say no parmesan on top of anything.
I’m half Thai, so I know my way around a Thai restaurant and love the vegan options you can find. What I love is that almost any dish with tofu instead of meat and no fish sauce. Fried rice with no egg, add tofu and extra veggies. I like to add cashews to stir fry, noodle, and rice dishes. Curry, no fish sauce. Soups that are veggie broth based. Vegetable spring rolls for appetizer. For dessert: coconut sticky rice with mango!
Vegetable fried rice (no egg, add tofu), vegetable noodle dishes, vegetable dumplings, vegetable spring rolls, vegetable dumplings, vegetable soups (check that it’s vegetable broth base), bean curd, vegetable stir fry, steamed rice. Make sure that the dishes have no egg, no oyster, and no fish sauce.
Miso soup, make sure the base is vegetable broth. Vegetable sushi, avocado roll, vegetable tempura (make sure it doesn’t have egg), vegetable stir fry, seaweed salad, steamed rice, edamame. I love either doing miso soup and a vegetable roll and avocado roll or a bento box with a roll, vegetable tempura, and steamed rice.
French fries, veggie burgers or mushroom burger, veggie dogs, potato wedges, onion rings, baked potato. Ask about no dairy in the dishes you order. It’s usually easiest to pick items off of the side-item section and making a meal out of it. Unless you luck out and they have a veggie burger options, always double check that there is no dairy or egg in the veggie patty.
Yes, I have even found vegan friendly options at steakhouses and BBQ restaurants! The side-items list is going to be your best friend. Here you can usually find, fried pickles, French fries, sweet potato fries, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, green beans, and corn. House salad, mushroom “steak”, vegetable sandwiches, and sometimes vegetable chili can be found as well. Make sure to ask for no cheese, butter, sour cream, mayo, and any batters that contain buttermilk. I like to order several side dishes to make a meal, get creative!
Curries, vegetable samosa, channa masala, naan bread (check if it’s made with butter or yogurt), rice, saag, dal, and there’s usually other veggie dishes. Make sure to ask for no butter, cream, ghee, or paneer.
Greek salad, hummus, pita bread, tahini, grilled veggies, pan-friend potatoes, vegetable dolmades, roasted eggplant, grilled veggie wrap, falafels, tabuleh, cous cous. Ask for no cheese or yogurt to make it vegan friendly.
VEGAN & VEGETARIAN
What vegan dreams are made of! You can order anything here, if it’s vegetarian, just make sure it doesn’t have any dairy in it. I like to order items that I can’t typically find vegan, like vegan french toast, vegan quiche, vegan breakfast burrito, and vegan cheese cake! Yum!
Last Tip: Use the Apps
Vegan eating has gotten easier with the awesome apps you can download and use on the go right at your finger-tips! This is my favorite way to find vegan friendly restaurants when I travel. My favorite apps are: Happy Cow, Vegman, and VeganXpress (helps you find vegan options at chain restaurants). I also like to use Yelp and search “vegan or vegetarian restaurants”.
Have fun finding vegan items at any restaurant! Let me know what your favorite items to order are or your go-to tips!
Love & Veggies,
The Vegan Momma