I didn’t abandon all of my wonderful followers, I promise. We went on a 3 week vacation, returned home and had 2 weeks until we moved to a new state. Consequently, I feel like July didn’t even happen! I have a ton of posts I’m ready to write. The Notes app on my iPhone is full of blogging posts. One post that I really wanted to write, is this one. I think a lot of people can handle doing vegan at home, but when out of their element they go back to old ways. A frequent question I receive is, “Where can I eat?”. I think we all assume most restaurants aren’t vegan friendly and if you look at most menus, I’d agree.
However, I’ve been a picky eater my whole life. I’m used to asking for about 2-3 items removed from whichever dish I order. I actually pick the thing on the menu that has the least amount of items I want removed, so I don’t annoy the server and the chef. I’m anything but pretentious, I just like what I like. I remember the first time my husband and I watched “When Harry Met Sally” and he said, “Wow, it’s you!” I’d like to think I’m less obnoxious about it, but I am very particular. All of that to bring us to my first tip:
Don’t be shy to ask for a dish you want without the meat or cheese
I think a lot of times, people glance at the menu and see something with meat in it or cheese on it and automatically assume it is off limits. That is not the case. As long as it isn’t something as simple as a “chicken breast” or if it doesn’t have meat in the sauce, then you can easily get it without the meat. Most restaurants are very sweet and will let you substitute it for spinach or some other protein. I tend to order a lot of pasta dishes without the meat and cheese, because most marinara sauces are just a tomato or olive oil base. Then add a little spinach and you have yourself a nice dinner. Asian salads are also great because they usually have peanuts or almonds. Asking for no chicken and extra nuts is pretty easy. I think the biggest trick is being polite about it. If the dish never had meat in it and I’m just getting it without cheese, I order it without cheese and apologize and explain I’m allergic. If I’m doing no meat and cheese, then I usually come up with some witty comment about how I’m not high maintenance, I’m just a picky eater. Being different is hard, but with the right attitude you can make it work for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Ok, so you’re at a really upscale restaurant and you’re having a great time but those 10 menu items are all meat and cheese and there isn’t anything to work with. I’ve been there before! There are a few options, if you see anything that has some sort of pasta you can always ask if they have plain marina or could do olive oil and seasoning. Usually, they can pull this together. There have been times when even that is not an option. I have pieced together dinners with handmade mashed potatoes with absolutely no butter that were very gritty and a side of plain toast or a meal of bruschetta and a salad with balsamic. It’s not enjoyable, but sometimes it has to be done. Usually, if you use my last rule and are very polite they are happy to pull something together to make you a decent meal. Then your faith in humanity can be restored! It makes your makeshift meal a bit more enjoyable.
I think we all assume vegans can’t do fast food and really who wants to? It’s unhealthy, filled with fat, sodium and chemicals that look and smell like food. I just did a road trip so I know the necessity of grabbing something quick and easy. Many fast food places are carrying salads, asking for some without meat is an option but not very filling. You can always ask if their fries are made with vegetable oil or animal fats. Some fast food joints are doing smoothies as well. You could do a smoothie and a salad if need be. Taco Bell doesn’t use lard in their refried beans so a bean burrito or tostada without cheese is an option there. Subway has an amazing honey oat bread, a veggie sandwich with some spinach is a fair amount of protein. Chipotle is the best option, now they have a sofrita tofu mix plus black beans and their food is fantastic! They’re on the right track and I love the direction the company is going with their support of sustainable farming.
Restaurants that have the most vegan options
If you’re going to out to eat and your friends suggest a few restaurants for you to pick from, try to stick with these type of places for the most vegan options. Thai restaurants (lots of tofu, curry dishes, rices, etc.), Indian food (really there is nothing better than channa masala over basmati rice), Italian (pasta dishes, breads, salads, need I say more?), Mexican food (tons of bean options make sure their refried beans don’t contain lard, if they do there’s always black beans) and Japanese (udon, miso, etc.). I recommend trying to avoid American food joints or diners, we didn’t earn the “Fattest country” title eating rice and beans. Some American restaurants have veggie burgers but even those sometimes contain egg. Chinese food is another tough one, I find if they don’t have meat in the dish they have egg, sometimes you can get them to take out the egg but usually it’s pre-made.