As much as I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes, I love to dine out and enjoy the company of others. Most of my family and friends are omnivores, so I go to restaurants they choose. I do get questions like what do vegans eat when they go out? You don’t need to live in LA or chomp on lettuce eating out as a vegan. You don’t even need to go to specific vegan digs to enjoy a good meal. I never felt limited. You just have think outside of the “menu”.
Here’s a couple tips dining vegan:
Research. Read the menu a head of time. You’ll be prepared to know what to order, what to ask, and how to be creative. If it boils down to limited choices then you’ll know to eat something before you leave, but save room for snacks. It can get awkward if your friends are having dinner and you’re not eating, so munch on fries and have a beer. You also want to reassure your friends that you’re fine if there’s not a lot of vegan choices. By the way, there is always a minimum of one or two vegan items in any menu. I love when people think about me, but rest assured this will never deter me from having a great time with good company.
Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask off the menu. I asked many times and gotten great suggestions. In fact, chefs might make dishes for you because they’re excited to experiment with something new. My family wanted to go out for Japanese ramen from Maneki Neko at Falls Church VA, but there’s only ramen with meat listed on the menu. I asked the waitress and the chefs were delighted to make me a vegetable miso ramen. It was spectacular! My husband even got jealous of the ramen I got.
Remove. There are items that can be removed and it tastes just as good. I was recently at Peking Gourmet for Father’s Day. My dad loves this place, so I was looking at ways to order. I always loved Chinese pancakes, cucumbers, scallions, and hoisin sauce (despite the name there’s actually no seafood in this). I can still enjoy this with everyone and leave the duck out. I just filled it up with more cucumbers.
Substitute. If I see something like vegetables on the menu I’ll ask to get that substituted for my dish. We were at Arcadia in Richmond VA and they had beets with a meat dish, so I asked if I can substitute one of the dishes with beets. Sure enough they were happy to do that. I started out with the roasted turnips & beets, polenta, chive sauce, and gala apple. It was perfect. The beets and turnips complimented the polenta very well.
Sides. You can have sides as a la carte or tapas style. There are always sides that are vegan-friendly. If that’s the case, order a couple dishes for your meal like this side salad and sweet potato fries I had at Bistro 27, also in Richmond VA.
Digs to satisfy both parties. If you have the option to choose a restaurant go for Asian, Mexican, Italian, and Indian. They will have vegan options for you, so both you and your friends can enjoy. For instance, my husband asked me to choose a place for lunch while we were in Tampa. I was interested in Taco Bus because number one it was on the Food Network and it had vegan and meat options. My vegan taco was so delicious my husband had one too.
As long as your creative there are no limits dining vegan.