Plan Ahead: Restaurants can become tricky. Planning ahead is the most important step of eating out when are a vegan. Know your location. Look up online different restaurants in the area. Most restaurants will have their menu and number online. Looking at the menu a head of time will give you the advantage of knowing what you want and if they have choices for you. If you are in a unfamiliar area, make sure you pick more than one restaurant just in case something goes wrong with your first pick. Utilize having their number. Another advantage of planning ahead is picking out the type of meal you would like to have. Different cultures often have vegan dishes. For example, Sushi. If you know what types of food different cultures eat, the process of selective restaurants will decrease, because you know what to look for.
Ask Questions: When at the restaurant, ask the server any questions you may have about the ingredients in the meal. Do not feel bashful, it is his or her job to serve you. The server will know how things are prepared and the ingredients used. Ask questions like if it was prepped in butter, or if a meat broth might have been added. You can also ask the server if the chef has any dishes not on the menu for a vegan customer or the chiefs opinion on substitutions to make the meal vegan.
Substitute: Switch things around. Looking at the menu and you see a salad that comes with bacon on it , ask to replace the bacon with a bean or more of a vegetable that already comes on the salad. Another example of a replacement for a salad is the dressing. Most salads come with a diary based dressing. Swop a dairy dressing with a vinaigrette. You can ask to substitute anything. One thing to be aware of is that substitutions may cost extra.
Back up Snack: Maybe you are unprepared and a friend who is not vegan picked the restaurant, or the restaurant you thought was vegan friendly is not. It is important to have back up snack with you. This snack will have to hold you over until you are able to go home and eat, or find another place to have your meal. Never starve because a restaurant is not compromising to your lifestyle.
Written by: Melanie Romano, Kent State University Dietetic Student