Monday, 27 February 2017

5 Tips for Dining Out as a Vegan

Considering there are only a handful of vegan restaurants in the Niagara region, most of us will end up in restaurants that don’t specifically cater to our food choices. Never fear, it’s still very easy to get something decent to eat at almost every places Here are five tips that will help along the way:

1. Call ahead

If I have any heads-up as to where we are going, I will call ahead to ask questions about the menu. If it is at all possible, I will also call on off-hours (not during the lunch or dinner rush) so that the server will have more time to talk to me about choices. This can alleviate any discomfort you may feel by being the centre of attention, and gives the server or kitchen staff the time to investigate questions they may not know off the top of their heads.

2. Check menu for items that may be easy to alter.

Often times, you can tweak an already existing menu item to make it vegan which makes it a lot easier for the kitchen to comply. A grilled veggie wrap can quickly be made vegan by ditching the goat cheese for example or a pasta dish can be veganized by foregoing the parmesan and prosciutto. Just make sure to check that all of the other ingredients are in fact vegan.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions.

Just as you shouldn’t be afraid to make suggestions, some establishments are quite vegan savvy, and you may end up with better items by asking for their ideas. I have often dined in restaurants where the chef offers to make up something entirely different from anything on the menu, and every time this has happened, the chef’s choice far outdoes anything I would have thought up.

4. Be sure to lay out what you can/can’t eat (not everyone knows what is meant by vegan).

After telling someone that I am vegan, I have been offered eggs, cheese, fish (that doesn’t count right?), and dairy. Some people have not had the exposure to vegans and don’t really understand what we eat. Not to mention all of the vegetarians (or often omnivores) who label themselves as vegans and then go on to eat animal-based products, adding confusion to the mix. Let the restaurant know what you don’t eat so they can accommodate you appropriately.

5. Keep snacks in a pocket or purse.

Sometimes, regardless of your preparation or polite attitude, there are times when the restaurant is just not going to be able to offer you anything decent and the sparse green salad or plate of fries isn’t going to cut it, so have a backup plan. Keep small snack baggies in your purse or pocket. Nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, muffins, soup/stew in a thermos (that you can chug in the parking lot, yep, been there, done that) - all are easy to make ahead and carry around with you.

Keep a positive attitude (I firmly believe that the vegan message is best furthered by being polite and agreeable), and perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well you can eat out, vegan. 

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