Vegan OUT! Navigating Restaurants
New vegans dread the moments their friends or family ask them for a catch-up over food.
Non-vegans will undoubtedly want a "real" restaurant or just not have to have you're ideals "forced" upon them, thus you're left to navigate your way through the scary world of menus and annoyed serving staff.
Here's what you need to know, how to side-step complcated menus, and what you can safely order at different places.
-Do not meet hungry. Yes, you may have to eat before you go eat. It happens. Better safe than starving and drunk off a single glass of wine.
-Salad, no cheese. oil+ vinegar. Almost all places will have it. Not the best, not the worst.
-Fries. Vegans get really good at saving the fry craving for dinners out. Again, most places will have 'em.
-Opt for organic wines, lighter beers, cider, or do your research before. Wine and beer are not always vegan. Organic is a safe bet, but if you're at a nicer restaurant asking for an "unfined" wine should do the trick.
-Give up all hope on the idea of dessert. Sorry, but at least your saving more calories for wine...?
-Beware of the veggie burger. Unless it says "v", it probably is just a vegetarian patty. If it's a vegan patty, still watch out for mayo or aioli being added without you realising.
-Mushroom gravy doesn't mean vegan. Mushroom gravies are still often made with beef stock at restaurants.
-Deep fried usually means egg, so double check on those onion rings or fried pickles. FRIES on the other hand, are safe.
Go-To: A veggie sandwich, vegan burger without the bun, or a big salad. American places are usually good for big salads. And fries. Lots of fries.
Just walk away.
-Beautiful of seafood places, is they like keeping things light. That means several fantastic salad options. I always look forward to seafood restaurants for their kickass salads.
-Bread is usually an option, but ask that there's no egg wash, especially if it's sourdough
Go-To: Seasonal spinach salad with citrus vinaigrette and copious amounts of wine.
-Most things can be made with oil over butter, including bruschetta
-Double check breads, but french is usually a safe bet
-All Italian restaurants carry a noodle that doesn't have egg in it, so you just need to ask for that one (it's usually their standard spaghetti noodle, and often lots of other options)
-Italians love their cheese. Make sure to be CLEAR on NO cheese.
Go-To: Spaghetti marinara, or just a couple orders of bruschetta, with no cheese.
-Ask for things cooked in oil rather than butter.
-hold the cheese and re fried beans.
-Check on the chips. They may be fried in lard over oil at more traditional places.
Go-To: Veggie fajitas with oil, no cheese/sour cream, extra guac!
-Beware that red sauce usually contain fish sauce.
-Careful of soups. My favorite is Tom Kha, but some places add broth to theirs.
-Check on noodles, as they vary.
Go-To: Yellow curry with tofu. Spring rolls with peanut sauce.
-Avoid anything with "butter" in the title, they can't make it without.
-Indian places are GREAT since they usually break things down in the "protein" categories. That means there's always a "vegetarian" section, and usually labeled with "v" for vegan.
-If vegan isn't labeled, your server will be able to immediately point to your options. No weird looks here for eating veg.
Go-To: Channa Masala or Daal Turka
-Check on the crust, but most places serve vegan crusts.
-Pizza places tend to go Parmesan happy. Parmesan isn't technically even vegetarian, so double check and request that it's not added.
-Check your area for pizza places that serve a vegan option. It's becoming more and more common at restaurants. Still a no-go at quick pizza shops, though.
-The southeastern states have a great pizza chain for vegans, Mellow Mushroom. Their marinated tempeh is killer!
Go-To: Loaded up veggie pizza, no cheese, extra marinara. Bread sticks, dry with marinara
If you have an open-minded friend (luckily my friends and family are awesome at working around my lifestyle) let them experience a veg place. Happycow.net helps you find veg-friendly and vegan restaurants quickly to make life easier!