Being a vegan is challenging. There’s no dancing around that fact. Fielding questions such as, “where do you get your protein?” or “are you trying to save the animals or you just don’t like meat?” can get repetitive and pesky.
Veganism is not for those who don’t love a challenge – if you’re a long time meat eater, making the switch is incredibly difficult. As someone who was a carnivore for 20 years, completely cutting out animal proteins and products from my daily life was no joke. My friends dreaded going out to meals with me because I always needed to be accommodated which then inconvenienced them. I felt awful restricting my friends when I was the one who was making the dietary changes. Eventually, I avoided meal dates with friends and got really, really good at cooking.
While becoming a vegan wizard in the kitchen is most certainly a benefit to my plant-based lifestyle, it just isn’t possible to eat in and create every single meal every single day. I couldn’t possibly have the time to do all of that grocery shopping! Plus, many of my plans with friends are often centered on meals and the divine food that is created in our city’s delicious restaurants. s
Thankfully, a lot has revolutionized in the past 5 years since I dove into veganism. This cruelty-free way of eating and living has truly caught on and it is so much more respected by food establishments around the globe. 100% vegan and vegetarian restaurants have popped up everywhere that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy in company together. If you’re someone who is a hardcore vegan, contemplating the lifestyle, or is carnivorous but open to vegan food, here are a few tips to make those decisions easier when out to eat.
Preview the menu before you arrive at the restaurant.
This is incredibly helpful to do so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s particularly important to do this before eating at a restaurant that is not strictly vegan or vegetarian. Previewing is a way to think about what you can modify, what ingredients sound interesting to you, and assuring you that your dietary needs can be honored. Not to mention, previewing the menu gets you excited for your meal out!
Call the restaurant ahead of time to let them know of your dietary restrictions.
While this isn’t 100% necessary, a courtesy call to the host or hostess can be helpful. You can also remind your server of this when you’re seated.
If a restaurant doesn’t have a vegetarian or vegan option that seems easy to modify, ask if they can do something off the menu for you.
It has taken me a lot of courage to do this. However recently, I’ve started to ask my servers if there’s no way to modify any options, perhaps there’s a dish the chef is willing to make off the menu. Typically, they can throw together some sort of pasta primavera or roasted veggie plate. While it may not be the 5-star filet mignon your friend is enjoying next to you, it’s still enough so that you’re not a hermit alone in your apartment on a Saturday night.
Inform your server that you have an allergy.
Even though this may not be true, letting your server know you have a dairy allergy is taken more seriously than not eating dairy by choice. The word allergy kicks the kitchen staff into high gear to ensure there are no animal products in your food.
Take your non-vegan friends to a vegan restaurant.
Open their eyes. This food is actually pretty damn tasty! Encourage your friends to try a new vegan spot with you sometime. You are always eating at restaurants to please them, so why not have them give you a break and eat at a place where you can nosh on every menu item?
Ultimately, veganism should be rewarding, healthful, and make you feel your absolute best. Being vegan is nothing to be ashamed of, but rather something to be extraordinarily proud of. So, go out for some meals and feel zero guilt about it! If there’s a hunger, there’s a way.