Going out to eat is probably the one thing that new vegans fear most. But the reality is typically very different, thanks to our vegan eating out tips!
The Veganuary team has dined out all over the world, so whether it’s a sophisticated restaurant, a local café, or just grabbing a pizza, we’ve got the inside info to make your dining experiences hassle-free.
With more people eating vegan than ever, mainstream restaurants are expanding their vegan options all the time too.
Keep it vegan!
If you want to keep things simple, visiting a vegan restaurant ensures there’s no confusion. There are vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in just about every city around the world. You’ll find plant-based businesses for every preference, from fast food and whole food to fine dining, so you’ll need some help to work out where to begin. Use HappyCow to find out what options are available near you.
Some of the most vegan-friendly international cuisines are available on every high street and are typically the most popular with everyone. Chinese, Italian, Indian, Thai, Japanese and Mexican cuisines are all fantastic for vegans, though you may need to tweak your order to avoid ghee, fish sauce and egg noodles. Always ask the waiter about non-vegan ingredients and if there are no dishes labelled vegan on the menu, they may be able to veganise it for you upon request.
Chain, chain, chain
Are you the only vegan in the group? Just about every chain restaurant now has vegan options or a full vegan menu so wherever you find yourself, you’ll also find a vegan meal. Whether you’re looking for beef or chicken alternatives, pizza or desserts, you’re sure to find them at popular chains. Dining at a high street restaurant is a great way to keep everyone happy without having to compromise on delicious food!
You wanna pizza me?
These days, it is difficult to find a pizza restaurant that doesn’t offer fantastic vegan cheese! Not just chain restaurants but independents everywhere are getting in on the action. But here’s a secret: pizza without cheese is pretty amazing! Load with toppings and douse with chilli oil and you may never go back!
Work events are often arranged by colleagues, so let them know you’re vegan and that you’re happy to talk to the venue directly if it makes things easier. You’ll feel more confident about attending if you know there will something for you to eat.
What if there’s nothing vegan on the menu?
Although this is rare, you may be in a situation where nothing on the menu is labelled vegan. Don’t assume that you can’t make requests at a restaurant and that, in being vegan, you’re being a bore or a burden.
Customers make requests all the time, for all sorts of reasons. One of our top vegan eating out tips is to go ahead and ask them to adapt a dish or create something just for you – though it’s best to call ahead to let them know you’re coming.
If the situation really is desperate, you may be able to put a dish together using sides – fries, veggies, salads and hummus are common side options. This is far from ideal and with the popularity of veganism, shouldn’t be necessary!
What if the staff have no idea what I’m taking about?
Veganism is widely recognised, but it’s still possible you’ll find serving staff who don’t understand what a vegan is. Politely explain what you do and don’t eat, take the time to answer their questions, and don’t be afraid to use the ‘V word’.
You might say something like “I’m vegan, so I don’t eat eggs, milk or cheese,” “Does your pizza dough have any milk or eggs in it?” and “Can I get the Vegetariana without cheese?”
What if I’m the only vegan in the group?
If you’re out with a group and feeling a little self-conscious about querying menu items at the table, simply excuse yourself before ordering and have a quiet word with your server.
If you’re travelling overseas and want to feel confident about ordering then why not get yourself a Vegan Passport? It can take a lot of the strain out of ordering if your language skills are a little rusty.
Now you know how easy it is to eat out as a vegan, go and have fun exploring plant-powered dishes!
PAGE UPDATED MAY 2021