For many vegans, once you know what you’re doing, eating out becomes one of life’s great pleasures. Although it might seem daunting at first to brave the menu in a restaurant that is not entirely vegan… the longer you abstain from animal products the easier it gets.
Eating out with a partner can be a really enjoyable evening – whether you share the same diet or not. Here are some top dining tips if you’re new to eating out as a veggie or vegan.
Independent vegetarian & vegan restaurants and cafes are a real gem if you can find one locally. Most cities will have at least one or two, where you have the luxury of knowing exactly what is great to eat!
Chain restaurants can be handy for eating out, especially if there isn’t a dedicated veggie restaurant around, or if you are dining with meat eaters.
Yo! Sushi have several dishes including tofu salad, edamame beans, firecracker rice and tempura vegetables which are vegan friendly. They also have a booklet for special diets so you can check individual dishes yourself.
Italian chains like Zizzi or Pizza Express even offer vegan cheese! Other dishes they offer can be easily veganised, like tomato based pasta dishes and bruschetta.
Chinese restaurants are usually excellent for veggies and vegans, frequently offering a whole vegetable-based menu and/or tofu menus, featuring lots of delicious sauces including black bean, garlic and ginger, Szechuan and sweet and sour.
When ordering rice vegetable as vegan, ensure you specify no egg , and also request that rice noodles are used instead of the more standard egg noodles.
Many larger chinese restaurants also now offer a range of mock meat versions of various dishes, if you fancy a ‘meaty-style’ change. A favourite in the Viva! office is mock duck wraps with hoisin sauce, for example.
Pictured: tofu stir fry
Indian restaurants are often a complete treat also, offering large number s of vegetable and pulse-based dishes and side dishes which can be relished, including curry, masala, korma, dahl, channa masala and aloo gobi to name a few.
A great option is always vegetable biryani; a spicy rice and vegetable dish served with its own curry.
Things to watch out for: check dishes are cooked with coconut milk not cream, with vegetable oil and not animal ghee (butter).
Naan breads also often contain yoghurt.
Pictured: chick pea curry
Thai cuisine follows suite as a great choice for the cruelty-free diner. The batter used to make tempura vegetables is normally vegan (check if you are unsure), and they are a very tasty option for a starter.
Pad Thai with tofu is a great choice, just make sure they use rice noodles and leave out the egg. Green curry with tofu or vegetables is another favourite.
Tasty sauces include satay (pictured on tofu kebabs) and sweet chilli. Prepare to be stuffed!
Pubs - are probably the least flexible option for many veggies and vegans, especially when they serve a large number of ‘traditional’ meals. Most will have at least a couple of vegetarian options, such as lasagne or veggie burger, but vegan options are sometimes more of an issue. If you’re lucky you might discover you local’s nut roast is incidentally vegan, or an inconspicuous curry… but if the worst comes to the worst.. just ask if the kitchen can knock you up a massive salad with a bowl of chips!, or a roast dinner of all the vegetables (if the potatoes are cooked in vegetable oil) with salad on the side. There really is no reason to go hungry!
The rule of thumb is, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If a dish is marked vegetarian, speak to a waitress/waiter and ask if it could be made without the dairy and egg . Many restaurants will be really happy to help, and many chefs pleased with the challenge. Happy dining.