Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Simple Tips for Making Eating Out A Breeze

Eating out used to be very challenging when I first transitioned to a vegan lifestyle.  Three years later, I have learned some tricks and tips to make dining out easy and enjoyable, even when I am not going to a vegan restaurant.  Nowadays, it's my husband who has anxiety when we eat out.  He and our other dining partners worry I will have nothing to eat.  This can tend to be a mood killer (at least for me at times, when I get frustrated because my hubby worries too much!).  Here are some things you can do to put others and yourself at ease, so you can enjoy your company and the food.

1. Check out the menu ahead of time:  With the Internet, this is so easy to do.  Whenever I am going to a new restaurant, I browse the offerings ahead of time and see if there is anything veeg friendly, and if not, I scope out menu items that could easily be veganized by omitting cheese, for example.

2. Call ahead: Especially for fancier establishments, I call ahead, let them know I am vegan, and ask if they will be able to accommodate me.  I used to feel squeamish about doing this, until I realized that I am paying for a service (and an expensive one at that) and I should be happy (and daresay delighted!) with what I am paying for.  Nine times out of ten, they are happy to come up with some options for me, and I have even been pleasantly surprised to learn that the chef or person on the phone is vegan too.

3. Make a meal of vegetables and side dishes: I love doing this at restaurants, even when they have one or two vegan options.  Sometimes a beautiful assortment of vegetables is all I want for dinner.  Ask your server how they are prepared, substituting olive oil for butter, for example, and eliminating any cheese.

4. Opt for ethnic cuisine: I can pretty much find something to eat wherever I dine (everyone offers a side salad!), but Asian, Indian, and Greek/Mediterranean restaurants are guaranteed to offer vegan options because of the veeg friendly staples in those diets.  Italian and Mexican restaurants also offer vegans lots of options - just hold the cheese!

5. Enjoy an appetizer: When nothing on the menu is calling my name, I look to the appetizers for sustenance.  Flatbread and hummus with a side salad, for example can be a very filling meal, as well as a steamed artichoke with a side salad.

6. Scout the accompaniments on the menu: I commonly find the items that the meat dishes are served with to be something perfect for me - rice pilaf, baked potato, couscous medley, etc.  They are not named as side dishes on the menu, but you can usually ask to order them as a meal (especially if the menu doesn't have much else to offer you).  Just check to make sure that grain options are prepared vegetarian - without chicken broth and butter, for example.

For more ideas on eating out, check out this article from one of my favorite vegan bloggers, Oh She Glows, by clicking here.