I was at an event recently whereas I was told that there would be a vegetarian option. Needless to say, the salad was load with bacon and ham. No biggie, I'll eat the dessert. I was then informed by one of the organizers that I, along with two other attendees, will be provided a meal from a nearby local restaurant. Being familiar with the location, I knew that the restaurant had very limited vegan/vegetarian options. The other two attendees were not familiar with the restaurant and quickly became skeptical. After some discussion with the hostess and kitchen staff, it was determined that the choices would be slim because many of the vegetables on the menu were either cooked in chicken broth or had meat in them. I chose a pescaterian dish with grilled fish, mixed vegetables, and kale salad; one chose a chef salad (the kitchen staff removed the chicken strips); and the other event attendee chose a large order of kale salad.
Needless to say, there are plentiful of apps and search engines to find vegan/vegetarian restaurants, but very few "last minute" options when eating out at traditional restaurants and fast-food chains. Upon my initial search, the apps were very limited. I expected them to share with me the menu options at popular restaurants that are vegan/vegetarian. But to no avail, there was limited information as these apps are supported by customer reviews. This was discouraging to me. So I came up with a list of options to do when you are considering a restaurant and not familiar with their menu. More importantly, you want something to eat other than a salad.
#1) Call ahead and speak to the Chef or head cook. Find out the options, and if applicable, have a meal already specially prepared prior to arriving to the dining establishment.
#2) Check out the menu on line before you visit the location. You may find that they have a seperate menu for vegan/vegetarians or symbols to indicate it is a specialty meal.
#3) Order sides. Often I find the healthiest options from the side menu such as sweet potato fries, mixed vegetables, and baked potato. Consider combining 2-4 vegetables on a plate as a meal.
#4) Substitute some of the common ingredients to make it vegetarian/vegan friendly. At a burger place, I'm always looking for the black bean or veggie burger option. I also remove the cheese and mayonnaise, and request avocado, if they have it. Tofu is also another option to look for in the entree selections.
#5) When eating at Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, French, and Italian restaurants some options includes eggplants, artichokes, vegetable soups, vegetable spring rolls, pasta, hummus, veggie platters, and vegetable fried rice. In a traditional American or BBQ restaurant, seek out the sides items as noted in #3. To make it vegan, request no mayonnaise, butter, eggs, or cheese. Indian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, and Mexican restaurants also have viable vegan/vegetarian options that centers around vegetables, rice, bread, and beans.
Do you have any other tips on eating vegan/vegetarian at local or popular chain restaurants?
Rhonda & Sharee Washington