#4 "You can't eat out anywhere"
Another complaint of both vegan and non-vegans is that you can’t go out to eat ANYWHERE! I am not going to lie, being vegan does make it more difficult to go out to eat and our options are limited but it is not impossible, I promise. The trick is knowing how to order and think of options that can easily be substituted in the kitchen. Here is my fail-proof guide to dining out on a vegan diet.
1. Get comfortable making changes to items on a menu. Yes you may feel needy, picky, difficult or annoying at first but the reality is, the restaurant is there to serve you. They want to offer options that will satisfy your palate (as much as they can) in order to keep you happy with the hopes that you’ll return and refer others. As long as you know what needs to be substituted for your needs, they will usually try to accommodate.
2. Read the menu thoroughly (possibly before hand). Look at the sides, entrée accompaniments and salad toppings they offer in the restaurant. They may not pair roasted vegetables or beans with their salads offerings… but if you notice that the meat or fish entrees are served with grilled vegetables and/or beans, you’ve found a solution so ask to mix and match. HOWEVER, be mindful that traditionally roasted vegetables, soups, sauces and grains are finished with butter for service, ask if they can be prepared in olive oil to avoid any confusion.
3. Call ahead of time. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diners are becoming more prominent and restaurants are eager to accommodate. When making the reservation inform the hostess that you have a vegan diner and ask if accommodations can be made. If the restaurant is strict on substitutions they will let you know right away.
4. Choose ethnic cuisines. Restaurants offering traditional cuisines are more likely to have non-meat and cheese laced options. Explore Indian, Thai, Mexican and Filipino restaurants many dishes are easier to alter for a vegan diet.
If all else fails (or it’s veg choice ;) ) choose a vegetarian restaurant. There are plenty of vegan, vegetarian and/or raw restaurants around the country that are redefining how ‘healthy’ should taste. Happy Cow is an amazing resource when you aren't sure where to look, plug in your location and Happy Cow will find you a vegetarian- friendly restaurant near you.
Here are a few of my go- to vegetarian restaurants in some of my favorite parts of the U.S.
- California: Trilogy Sanctuary, Peace Pies, Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre, Veggie Grill Crossroads + Sun Cafe
- New York: By Chloe, Candle 79, Dirt Candy, Superiority Burger, Blossom, Jivamukti Cafe + Beyond Sushi
- Midwest: Ezra's Enlightened Cafe, The Garden Table, Public Greens, Karyn's Raw, Chicago Diner + Native Foods Cafe
Everywhere else… we are getting there - if you have suggestions for vegan restaurants you love, please share in the comments below. And for even more, check out this Thrillist list for the best vegetarian restaurants in the country.