Eating Out As A Vegan
Vegan Restaurants Directory
When I became a vegan, I thought a vegan diet would stop me from eating out and socialising outside the house in general where food was concerned. I thought I'd have to barricade myself in whenever I wanted to eat, and if I was out and felt hungry, I'd have to limit my snack to an apple or an orange.
But over time I learnt what to look for when I went out to eat, and it became fairly easy to order vegan food.
If I am a bit suspicious about a restaurant, then I will tell them that I have an egg and dairy intolerance. That way, I know they wouldn't risk giving me any food containing egg and dairy products.
Obviously eating out isn't going to be as easy when you are on a vegan diet, but if you stay away from the steak houses - and even these places will often be able to give a (basic) vegan option - you should find it quite easy to eat vegan when out and about.
Going out for a burger? Most places offer veggie burgers now and a lot of these are suitable for vegans - just order without the cheese obviously - and check the fries are fried in vegetable oil but they usually are. Same for fish and chip shops.
Eating out at burger bars is quite easy. I have to say, I don't get my vegan burgers from these places, but if you fancy one then it should be quite easy.
I love those vegetarian Chinese restaurants that are becoming ever more popular. Most of these places offer vegan meats and are just amazing places to eat in. The ones I've been to offer a mostly vegan menu but do have some dishes with egg and honey in them. Eating out in these places is simple. They offer dishes such as satay vegan chicken on skewers, mandarin toffee banana, crispy vegan duck with pancakes, vegan lamb wrap, vegan chicken in black bean sauce, vegan fish with sweet corn sauce, vegan steak in black pepper sauce, sizzling vegan meat and mushroom in black pepper sauce etc. These dishes will usually be advertised as 100% vegetarian which means they are vegan.
Wonderfully spiced vegan Indian food is fairly easy to get your hands on. Watch out for "paneer" which is a cheese that looks like tofu, and also remember ghee is a butter used in Indian recipes. Many Indian restaurants list the main ingredients of their dishes for people who are not familiar with Indian cuisine. Look for dishes containing garbanzo beans (chickpeas) as these are a staple ingredient in many Indian recipes that contain no meat. Most Indian restaurants will offer lightly fried vegetables which are usually fried in peanut or safflower oil.
Chapatis and poppadoms are usually vegan (make sure they are not cooked in or contain ghee but you will usually find some sort of vegetable oil is used here). Naan breads can be made with milk and eggs although some Indian restaurants make them without, so check first.
Some Italian dressings contain cheese but they will usually offer a vinaigrette alternative which should be vegan as this is usually made out of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt/pepper and lemon. If the Italian restaurant offers vegan pasta, you should be home and dry as you can choose a tomato based sauce which are often vegan but as always, check check check.
Also have a look at the side dishes. In the better restaurants you should see things like roasted peppers in garlic, assorted olives, spinach in olive oil and lemon etc. You could make a meal out of these with bread and salad, and maybe ask for an antiplasto platter based on an assortment of vegetables.
Pizza dough is sometimes vegan and sometimes not. A basic pizza dough is made out of flour, water, yeast, a pinch of salt and olive oil, but sometimes it will contain milk or other animal ingredients. Pizza tomato sauce bases are usually vegan too but some places add cheese or anchovies etc so always ask to be sure. Ring in advance to check (this is what I do if I'm organised, which is never), and then just add your vegan toppings. Pineapple, olives, tomatoes, onions, peppers, chillies, mushrooms, garlic, sweetcorn, capers (my favourites), herbs and spices, various nuts etc etc.
Thai restaurants (as well as Chinese restaurants) usually offer bean curd dishes (tofu) and these come in a variety of recipes such as sweet and sour or curried dishes. These are usually 100% vegetarian. I've also noticed that some of these Thai restaurants offer vegetable crackers instead of the usual prawn variety. Eating out when the menu offers bean curd is easy. You can also see how tofu (bean curd) should be marinated.
Out and about and fancying a snack:
If you are out and about and fancy a snack, obviously most sandwiches will have some sort of dairy spread in them. But you can always find something suitable for vegans whether it be a packet of crisps or peanuts or some fruit. Some popular coffee chains offer vegan wraps which will be labelled, or you could pop into a health food shop and get a vegan sausage roll or a pasty of some sort which are found in the fridge section.
I cannot wait for the expansion of Heather Mills' V Bites restaurants as their food looks amazing. Apparently she is branching out further afield so good for her!!
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