One of the most common questions new vegans get from well-intentioned family and friends is, “What will you eat at restaurants?”
Eating out doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s possible to enjoy a filling, tasty vegan meal almost anywhere you eat.
- Try downloading the free mobile app called Happy Cow (or visit their website), which will provide information about nearby restaurants with vegan or vegetarian options*.
- Look at the restaurant’s menu online. If it’s listed, you should be able to easily identify the vegan and vegetarian offerings.
- Alternatively, if you know of restaurants in the area and/or they don’t list their menu online, call and ask to speak to a manager. Ask them what vegetarian or vegan options they have to offer. If the restaurant staff is confused by your request, explain politely what you choose not to eat. They may ask several questions, so take some time to answer them.
*Most vegetarian options on menus can be made vegan easily! Ask if the kitchen can prepare the dish without eggs or dairy.
Adapt the Dishes
- It’s likely you’ll have to adapt the dish you choose to make it completely vegan. Ask the server if you can swap out the non-vegan items for vegan items, like extra veggies, beans, etc. If you don’t find main dishes that can be made vegan, look for the side dishes. Sometimes a good meal can be put together with a few sides!
- You may also try to speak to the chef directly and ask if they can prepare something vegan.
Check For Symbols
- Sometimes the vegan or vegetarian options will be identified with symbols and letters on the menu. Look for dishes that have a v, V, VG, a leaf, or similar symbol next to it.
Visit International Restaurants
- Many international restaurants prepare dishes that are already vegan or need only one or two small adjustments. These types of foods include Mexican, Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and more!
Be Kind and Have Fun
- One of the most important things to do when ordering at a non-vegan restaurant is to be very kind to the server. You can help them by being very detailed about what you’d like to order. And remember, “please” and “thank you” go a long way!
- Dining with friends and family shouldn’t be overwhelming. With the growing demand for vegan options and a little confidence, which comes with practice, you’ll be the first one asking, “Who wants to go out to eat?”