Eating out while following a plant-based diet, also known as a vegan diet, can seem overwhelming. Many restaurants build their dishes around animal protein. Luckily, many places are starting to offer more options as people adopt healthier lifestyles and incorporate more plant-based protein into their diet. With some planning and creativity, eating out can be easy and enjoyable!
Follow my tips on how to eat out at a restaurant while following a plant-based diet.
- Most places now have their menu available online. Look up the menu before heading to the restaurant.
- Don’t be afraid to call before and find out what vegan options are available, especially if you can’t find any on the menu. Many places are willing to accommodate and can provide options. Sometimes they even have a separate menu already created for vegans but don’t outwardly advertise.
Questions to Ask when Eating Out on a Plant-Based Diet
- Ask for suggestions on the menu from the server or chef.
- Find out if foods are cooked in oils or butter. Request your food to be cooked in oil.
- Ask about hidden animal products. Foods that may seem vegan sometimes aren’t. Soups, risotto, refried beans, and broths often contain animal products. Pasta sauces are frequently made by simmering with an animal bone.
- Get creative with side items. Combining side dishes is an easy way to create a plant-based meal. Steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, pasta, and rice are often offered as side dishes. Order 2 or 3 to make a delicious meal.
- Substitute dairy options like cheese with guacamole or salsa
- If a restaurant offers a plant-based burger, they will often let you use it as a substitute for meat in dishes. Swap plant-based burgers for animal protein in wraps, sandwiches, salads, and other food items.
Ethnic restaurants many times have more options for vegan friendly food than American restaurants.
- Asian restaurants usually have vegetable spring rolls, sushi, dumplings, and noodle dishes.
- Mediterranean restaurants offer hummus, tahini, olives, roasted eggplant, and grilled veggies.
- Mexican restaurants offer a variety of salsas, guacamoles, veggie and bean burritos, and vegetable fajitas.
- Download the Happy cow or Vegan app. Type in your zip code, and you’ll see many restaurants offering vegan options.
- Use the Yelp app to filter vegan-friendly restaurants.
While eating out on a plant-based diet has become easier over the last few years, there may still be challenges. Hopefully, my tips for eating out on a plant-based diet will be helpful.
When following a plant-based diet, ensure you are getting the right amount of complete proteins at a restaurant. For more information on what constitutes a complete protein, check out my post on Essential Amino Acids & What You Need to Know.