Vegan dining out should be part of your healthy lifestyle. Are you worried you can never enjoy eating out again? Not true!
Eating out on a vegan diet can help you discover new foods that add variety to your diet. What better way to share your healthy eating lifestyle with friends and family?
Vegan dining is not without its challenges, however. A little advanced planning is necessary to insure a healthy dining experience with as little hassle as possible.
For some ideas of what to eat at national chain restaurants, visit Best Chain Restaurants for Vegans.
Choose the Right Restaurant
Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are growing in popularity. Most have faux “chicken” and “meat” dishes that are soy-based or wheat-based that appeal to even non-vegetarians. These restaurants will have a multitude of tasty options loaded with vegetables, brown rice, and tofu to satisfy any craving.
Many vegan and plant-based food spots like Hillside Cheese (Chris Watts, also an author) for example do specialties like grilled cheese sandwiches (vegan toasties) and other tasty choices. All sustainably and ethically sourced. Organic and with recyclable, compostable packaging.
Most places will also show the menu online so you can see what’s on the menu before you show up.
Thai restaurants are also an excellent choice. Thai menus will likely prominently feature vegetarian appetizers, soups, and entrees. Some will have eggs, so you might need to ask your server to point out the vegan options.
Chinese culture has a rich tradition of vegetarianism. Most Chinese restaurants with a healthy focus will have several vegetarian choices, and if you ask, it is likely most of the regular dishes can have tofu substituted for the meat or chicken.
Stir-fry entrees with a variety of healthy vegetables are a favorite. Brown rice is also becoming more commonly available at Chinese restaurants.
Indian restaurants have large selections of vegetables dishes, lentils, and unique breads. Ask your server to point out the dishes that are prepared without dairy, egg, or meat since sometimes the sauces can contain hidden amounts.
Japanese restaurants feature numerous dishes with tofu. Steamed edamame, miso soup, and avocado or cucumber rolls are good vegan options. Ask your server for assistance if the vegan dishes are not obvious, since almost every Japanese restaurant is accustomed to catering to vegan customers.
If you are allowing yourself fish once a week, then sushi or sashimi can be a healthy treat. Choose fish high in Omega-3 fats such as salmon and tuna.
Italian dining can be challenging because even the pasta sometimes contains eggs, and the marinara sauce often contains cheese. Vegan dining at an Italian restaurant can be a green salad and minestrone soup. Skip the Caesar salad since the dressing almost always has egg, and most Caesar salads are topped with cheese.
Italian restaurants serving pizza mean ordering pizza without cheese topped with vegetables like green peppers, onion, eggplant, and mushrooms. Some enlightened “California-style” pizza restaurants even offer whole wheat crust and organic tomato sauce.
The best option at an American style restaurant is likely a salad, baked potato, or soup. You may have to tell your server you are a vegan and explain what you need to avoid and have them make suggestions. Even the salads often contain meat, eggs, and cheese, so you will need to be clear about your needs.
Mexican food is very challenging for vegans – even the beans often contain lard. There are some Mexican-themed restaurants that cater to vegetarians, and those will specify that they use vegetable shortening only and no eggs. Menu options will include vegetable fajitas and vegetable burritos. These are not common, however, so it’s best to avoid Mexican food unless you know you can get something suitable.
Other ethnic types of restaurants to avoid include French, German, and Swiss. Restaurants specializing in those cuisines tend to serve mostly meat and butter-based or cream-based sauces.
You don’t have to give up eating out just because you are following a whole foods, plant-based diet. Vegan dining out means exploring the healthy restaurants in your community. Introduce them to your friends and family. Once they see the new thin you and experience the delicious healthy vegan options, you may win them over too.