So for today’s post we’re going to be talking about something that I am extremely passionate about. I’m talking dreaming about it, can’t stop thinking about it, day dreaming about it when I should be in conversation with someone else. That thing that I’m so extremely devoted to? Going out to eat.
I love it! I LOVE to cook, but getting to try new foods created by different people is just SO exciting to me.
One thing that a lot of people ask me when they hear that I’m vegan is how do I go out to eat at restaurants, and I both love it and hate it when they ask me this. I love it because going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do, so I love telling people how easy it is as a vegan. On the other hand, I hate it when people ask this because it reminds me how many people truly do think that as a vegan, you can’t eat anywhere, you can’t eat anything, you can’t eat with your friends, and that’s so not true.
So I’m going to share a couple of tips today on going out to eat as a vegan!
One thing that I’ve learned that has really surprised me is the nicer the restaurant, the easier it is to get a (delicious!) vegan meal. I used to look at fancy restaurant menus and see that there wasn’t even vegetarian options let alone vegan options, and think I was out of luck but I was soooo wrong.
So when I graduated college, my friend had a grad party and her whole family took us to this pretty much farm to table meat restaurant. Everything had meat in it, they didn’t even have a single vegetarian meal.
Real quick tho, let’s backtrack before I continue with this (soon to be) fairytale of a story. So one thing that I like to do at restaurants like this is not tell them that I’m vegan, but rather that I don’t eat meat, dairy, and eggs. Sometimes the word “vegan” can come off as standoffish depending on who you’re talking to and their experience with veganism in the past, as sad as this is, because when it comes down to it it’s just a compassionate lifestyle. Some people just don’t like the word!
Some people also don’t know what vegan means, and that runs the risk of either making your server feel stupid which is never good, or you getting the wrong type of meal. To avoid all of these things, I stick to the “I don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs” spiel.
So back to the grad party. When I asked our server if they had anything off menu that didn’t have meat, dairy, or eggs in it, he was so sweet and instantly went, “Oh you’re vegan! The chef loves making vegan food, it’s a fun little challenge for him.”
So later that night, they came out with the BEST pasta dish that I have ever had in my LIFE. I kid you not. And it wasn’t even on the menu! It just had all these amazing fresh grilled veggies with a basil sauce over pasta. And I feel like usually I’d think about grilled vegetables and pasta and be like “been there done that, that’s all I ever eat at BBQs and parties” but this dish was special. It was some gooourmet pasta we’re talking about.
I still think about that pasta dish, that’s how mind blowing it was.
I’m so glad that I asked if they had anything vegan, because I could have just ordered a wimpy side salad without any chicken on it and that would have been the saddest dinner ever, and I ended up getting the best, best pasta of my life.
So another thing I recommend when going out to eat is always be nice to your server. No matter how rude they are back to you, as a vegan, you’re kind of the face of the movement for that person at that moment. I’ve had a lot of servers who didn’t even know what vegan means, and I’ve been their first encounter with the lifestyle. I feel that it’s super important to beat that stereotype that vegans are all snooty, I’m-better-than-you kind of people and show whoever you’re talking to that (obviously) we’re just like everyone else, the only difference is that we just want to reduce the amount of suffering that we contribute to. Simple as that.
It really sucks that there’s such a stereotype, because so many of my vegan friends are the most kind, compassionate, polite people I know.
So another thing that I do when going out to eat is I LOVE to check the menu ahead of time, for a few reasons. Reason #1 is I like to know what I’ll be ordering later that day so I can salivate over it for the hours leading up to the meal. Reason #2 is I like to make sure it is possible for me to order vegan. Especially if you’re going somewhere with your new significant other’s family or something like that, it never hurts to call the restaurant ahead of time and explain your diet as ask if they can work with it.
No matter what tho, don’t be afraid to speak up because you have nothing to be ashamed of. I used to experience a sense of shame when I would order vegan food. I’d be like “I’m SO sorry for the inconvenience” and it’s not an inconvenience, it’s a diet that, when you know what it is, is extremely easy to accommodate for because it’s basically just vegetables and grains and beans and nuts and all that good stuff. Once you know the 411, the options are limitless.
But! I used to feel super afraid to speak up about it, and you should never be afraid to speak up about something that you know is doing so much good for the world.
PLUS! Look at it from this angle, if you’re extremely nice about your vegan diet, you could potentially be changing someone. You don’t know, but they could go home and be like “they were so nice, I want to see what this vegan thing is all about,” and they could potentially go vegan and the world has you to thank for that!
So we talked about fancy places, but we haavveee to talk about places that are on the cheaper side.
Taco Bell is BIG love of mine. They actually recently came out with a certified vegetarian menu and even a guide of how to eat meatless at Taco Bell. Major points for Taco Bell. So my two favorite things to get there are the crunchwrap and black bean burrito. With the crunchwrap, I sub beef for their refried beans, and sour cream and cheese for guacamole and potatoes. TRUST ME on the potatoes. Heavenly. To die for. Then I get their bean burrito, which usually is beans, salsa, and cheese but I sub the cheese for, what else, potatoes. The three ingredients are a match made in heaven! Seriously, go try these two things at Taco Bell right now. Don’t even finish reading this post, just get your butt over there and enjoy some cheap and fast ‘ritos and crunchwraps.
Can we also just talk about Chipotle’s sofritas for a minute? Also a MAJOR game changer. If you haven’t had Chipotle’s sofritas yet, I’m afraid to say that I don’t think you’ve truly lived.
Here’s a random one, McDonalds’ apple pies are vegan! My boyfriend Jon and I were driving home from Cape Cod last weekend and stopped at a rest stop really late at night and the only thing that was open was McDonalds, so we obviously had to get their apple pies. They are just as good as I remember them being when I was 7 and super into fast food!
So there are SO many fast food hacks that you can do to vegan-ize your quick meal. I could list them all and bore all y’all to death, or I could just post this VERY helpful list and let you look at your own leisure.
So another lil tip that has gotten me through many a dinner is that if there is tofu in one dish, chances are they can sub the meat in any other dish for tofu. Especially at Asian restaurants, they can almost always just swap chicken or beef for tofu. This one Chinese restaurant I go to has a tofu and broccoli dish, and one day I found out that I could sub the tofu that’s only listed in that one dish with any other dish as well. LIFE CHANGING.
At Mexican restaurants, I always ask for no dairy (sour cream and cheese) and substitute that for guacamole, and they usually do that without an extra cost. Getting guac for free is a prettyyyy big deal in my book, so I love that trick.
Sometimes you can even sub sides that have dairy or meat in them for fries. ( ❤ ) I always get these tofu wings at this bar near my apartment, and instead of getting the side of blue cheese and coleslaw, I get curly fries which in my opinion, are way better than ANY side you could ever get, vegan or not. (BTW, curly fries are the way to my heart, just putting that out there.)
So what are your tips to eating out vegan? I would seriously LOVE to hear about all of them. LOVE TO. This stuff is my jam in case you couldn’t tell.
Share though, guys, spill the juicy deets!
Have a good night all you wonderful people ❤ ❤ ❤