Food is a
central part of our social existence. Throughout the ages and still today,
food has represented more than just fuel for our bodies, it also allows us to
spend time with those we love, enjoy ourselves and bond with the people around
Nowadays, these kinds of gatherings usually take place at
restaurants which can pose a challenge for veg*ans. I’m sure we’ve all had the
unpleasant experience of perusing a menu only to realize that there are no veg*an,
let alone vegetarian options available. The good news is that this is not
entirely true. By being prepared, doing some investigation and showing
creativity, you’ll find veg*an meals are actually quite accessible in many
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There are many different types
of cuisines that can adapt very well to veg*an diets and thanks to
globalization, they have become quite accessible no matter what city you live
in. While you’ll want to stay away from the obvious steakhouse and seafood
restaurants, many ethnic restaurants will have vegetarian options that can be
converted to veg*an. The trick is to know what to look for and what to
substitute, so do your research.
Here’s a quick overview of international cuisines and how
veg*an-friendly they are based on staple dishes that you’re most likely to find
at a restaurant and commonly used ingredients (JJJ = very friendly,
= very unfriendly):
Middle Eastern JJJ
BBQ (Australian/American) LL
Know your restaurants
If you’ve been to a restaurant in the past where they
adapted menu items to your liking, keep note of it and go back. Likewise, if
you went to a place that looked at you sideways when you asked whether there
were eggs in the pad thai, perhaps this is not the place for you. By asking
questions and getting to know the staff, you’ll get a good idea of whether or
not the establishment is willing to work with your preferences.
When in comes to casual dining restaurant chains, it could
be hit or miss. Many of these restaurants simply prepare pre-frozen food, so the
waiters (and even the “chefs”) may not know exactly what is in what you’re
eating. Luckily, many of these publish lists of ingredients online, so research
before you go.
Some fast food restaurants have begun introducing veg*an or
vegetarian dishes in their menus as well. As casual dining chains, these
restaurants are usually required to publish a list of ingredients online. While
burger joints may have introduced veggie burgers to their menus, you may still
want to research the ingredients as some contain
egg whites. Your best bet for fast food is Mexican, as many of the
vegetarian options can become vegan if one removes the cheese and sour cream.
Ask questions and be
There’s a common misconception that waiters and chefs don’t
like being asked for substitutions and that is simply wrong. Restaurants want
to provide an enjoyable dining experience for all their guests and are equipped
with several different ingredients in order to adapt to these kinds of
situations. By politely explaining your restrictions and asking questions,
restaurant staff will gladly make substitutions.
You could also call
before you go to let them know ahead of time and give them time to prepare.
They may even give you tips on which dishes on the menu can be most easily
adapted to your needs.
Get in control
If you’re going out with a group of friends, ask to choose
the restaurant yourself. This will give you ample time to research, call and
choose a place where you know you’ll feel comfortable and have something to
eat. Perhaps your group of friends may even be open to trying out a vegan
restaurant, so check out the HappyCow
app for suggestions in your area. If someone else is choosing, let them know
(or remind them) of your restrictions and don’t be afraid to oppose if the
chosen restaurant is very difficult for you to work with, like a steakhouse. If
all else fails, have a light meal before you go and get creative with side
It’s too easy to let this kind of event become a source of
stress or anxiety and ruin your evening. Do some research, be prepared and keep
your expectations low in case you’re afraid you’ll be disappointed. Don’t
forget that your objective should be to spend quality time with friends or
loved ones and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy it!