The world can be a frustrating place when you’re not 100% in control of what’s on your plate. Here are some tips for eating vegetarian or vegan when dining out.
- Be your own advocate. Call ahead (during off-peak hours) or check out online menus to find out whether a restaurant has options for you. Sometimes restaurants have vegetarian items not listed on their menus so it’s worth asking. Don’t be afraid of offending someone at a restaurant or event; you being satisfied and comfortable is most important. Be assertive but polite and make sure your server and the restaurant staff understands your preferences.
- Eat out during off-peak hours. Dining before 6:00pm or after 9:00pm gives the restaurant the ability to pay more attention to your order and customizing it. Beware that a meat-based dish without the meat may lack flavor. Bonus: your service will probably be much quicker.
- Ask for substitutions. If a menu item is served with a side dish that potentially contains animal ingredients or animal by-products, ask if they can substitute a vegetarian or vegan side like a salad with olive oil for dressing or plain side veggies. Another option? Be open to making a meal out of appetizers or side dishes.
- Read ingredient lists vigilantly. It’s easy to scan but you may miss something. Read everything and trust your instincts! Become familiar with terms that are related to animal products. This way you can watch for those terms on ingredients lists, too.
- Praise good businesses. If you have a positive experience, consider following up with the manager or writing a positive review somewhere. This benefits the vegan and vegetarian communities at large.
As the above are only some of the many great tips about dining out comfortably as a vegan or vegetarian, here are some more from Oh She Glows and Wiki How. In addition, here are PETA’s list of fast food dishes without animal products. Please comment below if you have any other great tips that you think our vegetarian/vegan community would find helpful.