Is there anything worse than going to a restaurant, and the only vegan option is a salad? Now, I’m all for salads. But I don’t want that the be the only thing that I can eat. To avoid this dreaded situation, I’m sharing with you my top tips on how to eat vegan at restaurants-without ordering a salad.
When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet, I decided that I would eat 100% vegan at home, and allow myself some leeway at restaurants. I was intimidated about forcing people in my life to accommodate my choice until I realized that it didn’t have to be that way.
Living in Toronto, I’m pretty lucky to have so many vegan restaurants at my fingertips and to be surrounded by people who usually love to try them out with me. But what about those times you go to a non-vegan restaurant (which, let’s be honest, happens more times than not)? I’m going to share with you my top tips for eating vegan at non-vegan restaurants and avoid ordering a salad.
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Look ahead of time
If you have the luxury of knowing where you’ll be going ahead of time, take some time to scan the menu and see if there are any vegan options. Considering what you might order ahead of time will take away some of the guesswork and allow you to be more relaxed when you get there. If there are no blatantly vegan options, try to assess what can easily be made vegan, which leads me to my next point…
See what’s modifiable
Oftentimes when there’s nothing outright vegan on the menu, there are several options that can easily be made vegan. Vegetarian options are usually the best bet for this. Try asking for no cheese, eggs or butter on vegetarian options, and ask if they can be swapped for something else like avocado, salsa or extra veggies.
Discuss with the server
Your server likely knows the menu inside out and will be your best method of knowledge when trying to assess what can be made vegan on the menu. Some people may be intimidated to ask a server for guidance with the menu, but remember that helping you is part of their job. Most servers will be more than happy to make suggestions to you, as they’ve likely come across vegan customers before. Just remember to be extra thankful and gracious to your server, as they’re likely busy.
Rely on sides
Even if there are no blatantly vegan options at restaurants, we can often combine sides to make a delicious vegan meal. Combining options like sauteed mushrooms and onions, roasted broccoli, baked tofu or beans, and avocado can turn into a delicious meal. Plus, pretty much every restaurant has french fries.
Eating vegan at restaurants has become so much easier with the introduction of technology. It’s now incredibly easy to see what options await you at certain restaurants, and what other people have substituted at certain places using sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp.
My personal favorite site is Happy Cow. This is a website/application that spills all the secrets of local vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants in areas all over the world. I’ve used it in Croatia, Portugal, Paris, Italy, and Amsterdam without a hitch. A serious lifesaver if you’re traveling somewhere new, or want to find some new vegan-friendly restaurants in your neighborhood.
Know your options
Having an idea of what you might order depending on the style of the restaurant can be super helpful. Here are a few of my personal go-to’s:
Italian: Pizza with a ton of veggies, olives, capers, and sundried tomatoes, without the cheese. Lots of pizza places are actually including a vegan cheese option these days!
Greek: Hummus, veggie skewers, greek salad with no feta (extra olives), pita, grilled eggplant
Thai: Most vegetarian Thai options can be made vegan. Just make sure to ask for no fish sauce. My personal favorites are green curry, pad thai (no egg) and cashew tofu
Sushi: Sweet potato or avocado/cucumber sushi with no mayo
Mexican: Bean tacos, bean burritos, chips and guacamole, chips and salsa. Just make sure to ask for no cheese and no mayo-based sauces
Classic “American”: Veggie burger (make sure there’s no egg, no mayo), veggie sandwich, french fries
There you have it, all my best tips for how to eat vegan at restaurants! Did I miss anything? What are your best tips for eating vegan at restaurants? Let me know in the comments below, and make sure to share this article with your friends!
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