How to Eat Out as Vegan and be Social

IMG_7891Sometimes it’s hard to be social and eat at restaurants as a vegan with non-vegan friends, or to go over to a guests house who isn’t vegan for dinner. Down below are some suggestions on how to make yourself comfortable and be able to enjoy going out for dinner and being around people who may not have the same eating habits as you. I know for me personally, sometimes it’s hard to not feel like you’re being high maintenance because there can be a lot of things to consider and change in order for you to be able to eat plant-based and be happy.

Prepare

Read the menu before hand

If you know the restaurant you’re going to before hand, it might be a good idea to know what you’re going to be working with in terms of dish options, that way you can anticipate substitutions you maybe be able to can make. You can also try calling the restaurant ahead of time to ask if they have options or suggestions for you if you’re unsure.

Choose a Flexible Cuisine

Go to Restaurants whose cuisine typically has a variety of vegetarian and vegan options such as Japanese or Thai. That way you can order vegan without any fuss or muss, because there will be options for you on their menu by default. Here is a list of common vegan dishes that are typically available at the following kinds of restaurants.

Japanese

-vegetable and fruit sushi (cucumbers, avocado, carrot, broccoli, mango, banana)

-vegetable fried rice

-edamame

-Gyoza (a vegetable dumping)

-vegetable tempura

-miso soup

-vegetable teriyeki

Thai

-vegetable or tofu pad thai (ask for no eggs)

-vegetable stir-fry

-basil rice dish

-vegetable fried rice

-pineapple fried rice

-fried taro root or tofu

-thai vegetable curry

-fresh spring rolls

-mango salad (ask for no fish sauce)

-coconut rice or jasmine rice

Indian

-vegetable curry

-vegetable roti

-channa masala

-vegetable pakora

-vegetable samosa

Italian

-house salad

-spinach salad

-tomato bruschetta

-side of grilled vegetables

-pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables such as mushroom

-pizza sans cheese

Obviously, the way these dishes are prepared varies from restaurant to restaurant so if you’re unsure, double check when you’re ordering that it doesn’t have any hidden animal products in it!

Don’t be shy

Ask for substitutions

If you’re at Italian restaurant for example, you could order a pasta dish or salad without the cheese, and ask for vegetables like mushrooms to be added to your pasta instead of chicken. There are tons of options! Don’t be afraid to let the staff know that you are vegan, and ask them if they have suggestions for you. I used to struggle with this because I absolutely hate feeling like I am high maintenance or causing people to have to change something just for me or go out of the way just for me, but I realized, the restaurant wants you to leave a happy customer and you are paying for a service, so in most cases, the chef or waiter will be happy to accommodate you.

Use Happy Cow 🙂

Visit this awesome website: http://www.happycow.net/ to find an awesome all vegan or vegetarian restaurant near you if you are going out with fellow vegans or if you’re going out with someone who is flexible and doesn’t mind trying some awesome vegan grub.

Just Go!

If you know where you are going before hand, and you know the options are slim to non, eat before hand and order a drink or a side. That way you are still participating and you can still enjoy the company of your friends or family without stressing!

Dinner Party suggestions

Kindly let the host know that you have certain restrictions and offer to bring a dish or two to help out. There are a few benefits to doing this. One is that it shows that you are not high maintenance and that you are considerate and making an effort to be present  at their dinner and that you are taking the responsibility of feeding you something that they aren’t used to cooking off their hands. (If the host isn’t a vegan it is probably intimidating for them to try to cook something to your liking) Second, you can cook a side dish, an entree dish, dessert etc. for everyone to try that will show people how tasty and great vegan food can be! There are tons of crowd pleasing recipes here that you can check out for this. Making a yummy vegan dish could help inspire someone to try eating vegan more often, and it could help debunk the myth that a lot of people who are still eating a conventional diet have- that vegan food is bland and not filling.

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