Eating at Restaurants and Dinner Parties
Episode #8 of the course How to go vegan by Karina Inkster
Once you feel confident enjoying a plant-based diet at home, it’s time to branch out to eating meals with friends and family. Today, we’ll address vegan eating at restaurants and dinner parties.
Plant-based options are becoming more and more common in restaurants, even if they’re not directly presented on the menu. If you find yourself in a city with limited vegan establishments or at a restaurant that isn’t particularly veg-friendly, don’t be afraid to ask the chef to make you something off-menu. A vegetable and tofu stir fry on brown rice is always a good option.
If you’re looking for restaurants that will have many plant-based options, non-Western fare is often a good bet. Asian restaurants will have brown rice, steamed vegetables, edamame, or rice noodles. Sushi joints are great for vegans, and more and more of them now carry brown rice as a healthy option. You could order miso soup if it doesn’t contain fish, any number of vegetable rolls or cones, gomae (spinach salad with peanut dressing), tofu teriyaki, etc. Thai restaurants almost always have vegan options like curries and rice noodle dishes; just ask that your meal be made 100% vegetarian (there’s often fish in some dishes). Italian restaurants will have tomato-based sauces, salads, and more—just make sure to tell them to hold the cheese. You can even go to a steak house and get a satisfying vegan meal! I had some of the most delicious veggie fajitas I’ve ever eaten at a local steak house once, made with Portobello mushrooms. If there’s nothing like that on the menu, have them make you a baked potato, big salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and/or steamed veggies.
Check out happycow.net for vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurant listings from around the world.
Dinner at a friend or family member’s house
One of the few struggles I face in being vegan is not wanting to make dinner hosts feel imposed upon. Before going for dinner hosted at a friend’s house, I’ll eat a small meal so I don’t show up ravenous. Most often I’m eating with people I know well who will always have an option for me, but it doesn’t hurt to bring a dish of your own to share. I know from experience that bringing mouth-watering vegan desserts to share—even simple ones like dark chocolate-dipped strawberries—is always appreciated and spreads the word about plant-based diets at the same time! I often bring veggie burgers and/or salads to barbeques or a simple side dish like roasted veggies to other dinner gatherings.
Although it may take some extra planning and working off the menu, going out for dinner—either at someone’s house or at a restaurant—doesn’t have to be difficult on a healthy vegan diet.
Tomorrow, you’ll discover which nutrients vegans should pay special attention to and how to ensure you’re consuming enough of them.
“Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World” by Victoria Moran and Adair Moran
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