I often get asked, “how do you eat out as a vegan”, “what do you do on social occasions?” and “is being vegan hard?” But honestly, no, it isn’t hard, it is actually quite easy to maintain a normal social life with non-vegans when going out for food or doing other activities. Of course when I was first became vegan, this was not always the case, mostly due to not knowing what to look for on restaurant menu’s and friends/family not knowing that I had become vegan.
Be prepared – Find out where you are going a significant time before you go – this means that you have enough time to do some background research on the place that you’re eating at to determine if they have any vegan options available.
Happy Cow – If you haven’t decided where you are going to eat, jump online to Happy Cow to find a list of great vegan friendly restaurants in your area.
Get Online – check out local vegan Facebook groups/forums (such as Brisbane Vegans) and ask local members what their favourite restaurants/places to eat are.
Checkout the menu – restaurant and café menu’s are often available online, on their Facebook page or website to see if there are any vegan friendly options available. Google the name of the restaurant followed by “menu” to find relevant search results.
Call up – If you find that the restaurant has no vegan food available, why not call up the restaurant and ask if you are able to have something made up. Most chefs are more than happy to accommodate your dietary requirements.
Get Creative – Many restaurants often come with a range of sides that you can add to your meal. Why not see if you can make your meal more exciting by adding a range of sides, or even potentially creating a meal completely out of them. However make sure to ask a staff member to make sure that the side dishes are not made with animal products
Eat Before – If you definitely know there will be no meal options to suit you when you eat out, simply eat before and have a smaller option such as a salad when your eating out. That way you’re not going to be ‘the odd-one out’ by not eating and won’t go hungry either.
Look for keys – most menus have a key, which include a symbol such as “v” for vegan or vegetarian meals
Veganize – look for meals on the menu, especially vegetarian ones, that can be easily made vegan by omitting and eggs, dairy and other animal products.
Speak to the staff – Chances are, the staff member has dealt with this issue before, ask them if they are able to request any vegan meals to be specifically made up or any other options you may have in food selection.
Be nice – Being rude is not going to help anyone. You will be disappointed in the food and the staff are not going to be happy with you as a customer. A polite smile, ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ can go a long way.