One of the harder aspects about enjoying a plant-based diet is navigating the dining out experience. I am however finding that it is easier than I had believed it would be. I have found that any restaurant that has prepares every meal to order not only will help you with your specifications, but actually seem to be very happy to help.
I think in today’s market, with less people dining out, restaurants are working hard to retain regulars. What’s more, the more of us that go in and ask for healthier meals, they will understand the importance of offering better options when they update their menus.
In this post, I want to offer a few tips, then share a couple recent experiences.
1. Plan Ahead
Most restaurants publish their menus online. This makes it easy to plan what you will order and what adjustments might need to be made. There are also a growing number of sites that suggest which restaurants offer vegetarian an vegan options. HappyCow.com is the biggest, but with a little searching you should be able to find a regional site, or someone local that has created a blog to share their experiences.
2. Look for the Salad Bar
If a restaurant has an all you can eat salad bar, you can feel pretty safe that you will dine well. The only catch is if you want to avoid oil, you can ask for lemon and add a little vinegar, salt and pepper to make your own dressing, or you could smuggle something in like a ground flaxseed dressing you make ahead of time.
3. Call Ahead
I have not used this technique myself, but if you are concerned about not making a fuss when you are there, you can call ahead and have something prepared for you. This gives the chef more time, and I have heard you can end up with a better meal than what is offered on the menu.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask
I have discovered in any restaurant that has a cook or chef preparing the meals, they are not only happy to work with you to eliminate ingredients, but usually eagerly offer suggested substitutions. It seems that with the growing number of people eating plant-based wait staff is very familiar with these requests, and this will only be getting easier as more of us ask.
5. Eat First
If all esle fails, and you are going to a restaurant that offers little options, don’t arrive starving. This will make it easier to order a salad and be content.