A question I often get asked when discussing veganism with people is ‘But what do you do when you want to eat out? Isn’t it difficult?’ It is a valid question, but quite simply, it is not a problem! All you need to do is spend a few moments looking up what is available if you’re planning to go out. So, here are my top tips for making eating out as easy as can be!
Seek out veggie places
It may sound obvious, but if you are going to visit an unknown town or place, look up if they have any vegetarian or vegan places to eat! Check out the Happy Cow website. You can type in your destination and you will get a list of vegetarian, vegan and veggie friendly food venues as well as health food shops and other places which stock vegan food. It’s just fab!
Vegan options in restaurant
There are a number of food types which are likely to have vegan options, partly because they are from cultures where dairy is not heavily featured in the cuisine. Here are some places that you’re most likely to find vegan suitable food:
Indian – As long as the restaurant uses vegetable, and not dairy, ghee (butter) the vegetable dishes are likely to be vegan. The only thing to avoid would be anything with paneer, as this will be a cheese dish, and the cream-based dishes such as korma. If you want some protein go for Dahl (lentils) or Chana (chickpea) dishes. For accompaniments, avoid naan bread, as it is usually made with yogurt, but chapatis are fine and should be dairy free. If in doubt, just ask!
More info available here.
Oriental – Chinese and Thai restaurants are often a vegan’s best friend – TOFU! If they don’t have tofu on the menu, a delicious vegetable Thai green or red curries (creamy because of coconut milk) or vegetables in black bean sauce can be just as amazing. Noodles are the thing to watch out for as many are egg based. Rice noodles are fine, as is plain rice. Be aware, if you order vegetable rice, sometimes they have egg in there too, so just double check.
Italian – If it is an authentic restaurant, pizza base dough should simply be made from water, oil and flour. Some bigger chains do put milk in their bases, but again, just check! So all you need to do is ask them to ditch the cheese. When the base and the tomato sauce is good and with piles of delicious vegetables, the lack of cheese is not a problem.
More info available here.
Greasy spoon cafes – The presence of a greasy spoon really depends on where you live. This is quite an English thing, as far as I know.
They offer full English breakfasts: https://chrissiesgreedygob.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/shock-horror-vegan-eats-full-english-breakfast/ and lunch items like sandwiches and jacket potatoes with various fillings. Here, the best option is a jacket potato with baked beans, hold the butter, or a breakfast made up of the ingredients of your choice, such as hash browns, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and toast without butter. What to check for here is that they are not cooked in butter – usually they just use oil as it’s cheaper.
Other options which I frequently rely on:
- Chip shop chips (just make sure they’re cooked in vegetable oil and not animal fat – ewww!). These can be ordered with mushy peas, beans or sometimes even Jamaican patties.
- Pub food which can vary widely depending on the establishment, but options will usually include chips, jacket potato or even a roast without the meat! I can recommend Toby Carvery and Hungry Horse.
- Falafel, which has been popping up a lot at least around London, on stalls in markets, and in kebab shops.
As you can see, there many options for vegans! I’ve found the main barrier to getting a decent meal may be an unhelpful, unwilling waiter or manager. In which case, whether you are vegan or not, why would you want to eat somewhere with rude staff!
If you are ever inconvenienced, just remember NOTHING tastes sweeter than a cruelty-free food!